Sampler by John (Joan?) Davidson, no date.
Conservation funded by the Otago Embroiderers’ Guild in 2004.

Wool fabric, silk threads, 490mm x 337mm.

This sampler has a fine plain weave wool ground embroidered with polychrome silk threads. A zig zag border of green vine and carnation motifs is worked on the outer edges. The sampler is headed by plants in flower, likewise in a zig zag arrangement. Below this band is a row of crowns with pairs of initials under each. Various birds and trees flank a castle motif under the row of crowns. A moral verse is framed in the centre and reads: Immortal made what should we, Mind so much as immortality of bones. For a heaven designed what but, a heaven our care should be. It has a matching pair of vases to both sides and a second row of crowns, again with sets of initials under each, below. Dominating the lower portion is an imposing building, with the blue slate roof so often used to symbolise the school house, and a peacock and potted plant to either side. The sampler has a double blue line selvedge on each side and the upper and lower hems are hand stitched.

This sampler offers an intriguing mystery as to its sewer – was it John or Joan? Looking at the signature on the lower left of the embroidery it seems very clearly to be “John Davidson”. This would make this the only sampler in this large selection that was worked by a male. The donor record, however, clearly describes this as “a very old sampler worked by Joan Davidson before she came to Otago in 1865.” No further information is offered on ‘Joan’ and we have been unable to trace anybody of this name who might fit the bill. Miss Lillian Jane Columb gave the sampler to the Museum in 1948. Her parents were immigrants: her father Charles Columb from County Cavan in Ireland per the Helenslee in 1863 and her mother Helen Walsh from Edinburgh in 1865. We can only speculate on who Joan/John might be – perhaps a shipmate of Helen Walsh?
John Davidson
445 (h) x 335 (w) mm
455 (h) x 350 (w) mm (mounted)