Unfinished sampler, no date.

Linen fabric, wool threads, 195mm x 195mm.

This is the first of the ‘unfinished’ samplers in the Museum collection. It is probably Scottish in origin – the flat-topped ‘A’ in the alphabet and the rows of family initials in the middle portion are the clues – though it has a more colourful variety of threads than was the Scottish norm. The sewer has not quite gotten up to embroidering her signature or the date and yet she has kept the work and passed it on for posterity. As well as cross-stitch this work uses the eyelet square stitch.

Miss Isabella Helen Henderson donated this sampler to the Museum in 1979 but did not supply any details of its provenance. We can speculate that it had probably passed down to her through her family. If so, it might well have been worked by her paternal grandmother, Helen Sinton Wight, who was born at Maxton in Roxburghshire, Scotland in 1848 and came to Otago around 1875. The Wight surname is the only one of Miss Henderson’s immediate forbears that matches with the initials worked into the sampler – ‘W’ is the predominant final initial in many of the sets of initials. Helen married a Lanarkshire-born blacksmith, William Henderson, who had arrived in Otago on the William Davie in 1872. They lived for a time at Enfield in North Otago where Miss Henderson’s father Adam was born. Later they settled in Leith Valley, Dunedin and Helen died there in 1941 aged 93.
202 (h) x 213 (w) mm
455 (h) x 355 (w) mm (mounted)