Diss Auction Rooms has East Anglia In Stitches


The frenetic excitement associated with the auction world at TW Gaze has not been diminished by the last four months of constraint. We are re-energised, re-focused and continuously refining our capabilities to meet the requirements of our waiting public. Whilst certain aspects of the auction process remain measured and still have to be managed remotely, including some valuations, members of our Valuation Department are now able to make house-visits again for the purpose of sale and for Probate Valuations, albeit following our strict safety policy. Uptake has been overwhelming, and we are pleased to be able to help in person again. This is an industry which processes objects, but it is primarily all about people.

From one such recent visit has come the instruction to sell a single-owner private collection of samplers and sewing accessories and the auction will take place on Monday 20 July. It will be a live online auction, hosted on the auction platform saleroom.com; but by following twgaze.co.uk it is possible to view the fully illustrated catalogue remotely, and also to leave commission bids via Gaze’s website.

There has been a revival in interest in embroidery in recent years, boosted further during the current lockdown (along with other re-discovered hobbies, pastimes, and skills, such as knitting, gardening and culinary arts). Historic samplers continue to provide inspiration and instruction for their contemporary counterparts and therefore, TW Gaze’s auction is very exciting news. There are over 150 lots, representing one person’s long-lasting passion for the subject. The auction contains everything from “simple and charming”, to “poignant and moving”; unassuming yet exquisite examples from nursery, schoolroom, and workhouse, as well as fine, competent grand-house rarities, from England, Scotland, Europe and America. 

However, standing proud amongst the international representatives are some lovely East Anglian samplers which may appeal to local people for lots of reasons other than merely their needle craft. Maybe association with a village, the name of a forebear, or even an interest in local history, will prick the interest of potential bidders? There is a finely worked late George III silk work sampler dated 1819, by Eliza Brett, a member of a family from the Norwich area, well known for their samplers. Within a selection of map samplers is an even earlier work, a map of Norfolk by Mary Wetherell, dated 1797. There is a deceptively simple sampler sewn in silk thread on a muslin ground with “Spiritual Railway”, two verses taken from a stone memorial in Ely Cathedral to two men, victims of a railway accident on the Norwich to Ely railway line on Christmas Eve, 1845. It is thought that Miss Rolph, who worked the piece, may have been a relative of either William Pickering and Richard Edgar, or was perhaps a fellow-passenger on the fateful journey.

Victorian classroom samplers identify specific schools and villages. There is a lovely colourful wool on canvas sampler by Lily Elizabeth Cutts at Walpole & Cockley N. School in 1891. This incorporates an unusual tapestry picture of a cottage which stands to this day in Walpole. There are band samplers by Rose Sampson, Burgate, 1859; Annie Spicer aged 9, Finningham School, 1883 and by Daisy Chandler, Yoxford school, also c. 1883. Daisy was from nearby Halesworth, but when her father fell on hard times, she went to live with her uncle, a butcher in Yoxford. There is a band sampler by Anna Louisa Greenard from Kettleburgh, dated July 1870. Anna retired to Framlingham to live with her sister “of independent means” and neither ever married. There is a woolwork sampler by Emma Farnish, aged 11, Tuddenham School and a Georgian sampler worked in coloured silks with the alphabet and a pious verse by Jane Buscall of Whissonsett, May 18, 1828, aged 9 years.

There is something calming and affirming about samplers which offers momentary escapism in these troubled times and whether you are a collector or not, a browse of this rare collection, fully illustrated on twgaze.co.uk, may prove highly engaging.

Further details available from e.talbot@twgaze.co.uk