25 June 2012

George VI : coronation : flags and shamrocks

A small sampler, a satin-stitch embroidered confection of Union Jacks and red, white and blue shamrocks, not all quite stitched so you can see it was a transfer.  I find these sorts of waving-in-the-wind crossed flags rather jolly.

As with all George VI coronation embroideries, the question arises of Edward VIII.  My best guess would be that this design postdates the abdication.  Some of the coronation designs lent themselves to an easy substitution of George for Edward, but others, like this, don't lend themselves so well.  Thus I think it was designed after the abdication, as the design fits the wording of the king and queen's names so precisely.

I know nothing more about this piece - source or designer or anything else, so if you do know more, please leave a comment and share your wisdom and/or links.

18 June 2012

Map sampler: Festival of Britain 1951 (I)

In 1951, the Festival of Britain was staged.  To quote Wikipedia: " The Festival of Britain was a national exhibition in Britain in the summer of 1951. It was organised by the government to give Britons a feeling of recovery in the aftermath of war and to promote the British contribution to science, technology, industrial design, architecture and the arts." (source, also for the progam below).

And if you look at all the prewar patriotic embroideries, it's hardly suprising that there was an embroider sampler design relating to the Festival of Britain.  The first three pictures here show one example.  The colours are I think a trifle faded, perhaps through exposure to light.

Below are pictures of a second example.  Much brighter colours.  As the festival celebrated aspects of British life and culture, so do the images on the sampler.  From the top down: a deer/stag, and a bagpipe-playing Scotsman; a lute or harp; coming in from Ireland, an aeroplane; a ?dancer on a stage, and what looks like a circus tent; a Welsh lady playing a harp, the bust of William Shakespeare, a Beefeater and kettle drums with a music book; a roundabout/merry-go-round; a ?Cornishman with ?a squeezebox/small accordion; a sailor on a boat or barge; and a mermaid (or else a topless lady drowning and waving her knickers in the air to get the sailor's attention, which seems both unlikely and indecorous).  Also, of course, flags and around the Festival of Britain logo on the top right, the floral emblems of the British Isles; and bunting, echoing the design on the program pictured below.

And, you will notice, colour and lots of it.  More and more I think the Kent and Leicester county map samplers are likely pre-war.

This one seems very likely to have been a transfer design too.  How things have changed - few designs from the first fifty years were counted cross stitch, most were embroidery and based on samplers.  Most British patriotic designs now are counted work based on charts, whether cross stitch or tapestry/needlepoint.  Are we somehow more afraid of embroidery (the early designs didn't boast many complex stitches)? Were transfers, cheap to post, the easy way to transport designs then, while now counted charts can be downloaded from the internet or printed in magazines with no need to fiddle with stamps and envelopes?  Is there a preference now, for the exactitude of counted work, and perhaps a flavour of 'getting it right' or 'making exactly the same thing, because I like that sample' ?  I wonder.  I don't know.

A few more images of the second example:

Here is an image of a Festival program, to show you that stylised Britannia-head logo:

I wonder too about the form of this sampler being a map.  It's not just about showing the country, but also I think showing the country which resisted and prevailed in the very recent war, the country that was not invaded, close though they might have come.  Maps, after all, are essential to war and a matter for secrecy during war.  I've tagged this blog entry with wartime even though it's six years after, as the shadow of World War II is undoubtedly present in the reason for the Festival.  Rationing, for example, did not finally end until 1954.

I've seen several other versions of this design, so it must have been quite popular.  Which argues that it must have been in a wide-circulation newspaper or magazine, seen by many, chosen by a number of embroiderers to make in celebration.  It could have been a transfer, but a couple of examples I've been able to look at more closely seem to be on remarkably similar fine evenweave fabric, so I'm more likely to believe it was sold as a transfer already ironed onto fabric.

But I don't know.  If you do, please leave a comment with any useful information or links.

In light of the many coronation embroidery designs from 1937, and the many more coronation designs from 1953, only two years after the Festival of Britain, I find it interesting that at the moment, this is the only Festival of Britain design I've come across.  Was it a category-killer, catching the imagination? Were there few or no competitor designs?

Whatever the story (I wish I knew more), this is a particularly delightful British patriotic sampler, in my opinion.

11 June 2012

Map sampler: Kent

As with last week's Leicester and Rutland map sampler, this one uses for the map mainly a sepia range of thread colours, with brighter notes in the compass and the county coat of arms.   This adds weight to my suspicion that this was a transfer design, with the embroiderer making their own choice of threads - probably with a colour version to inspire them, but not a kit to direct their choices exactly.

By this time, with this being the third map sampler I've shown you, you'll have noted the similarity in the font chosen for surrounding counties and the Straits of Dover.  I wonder if someone, or some shop or publication or other source, designed one of these for each of the counties of England? It hardly seems likely that they would have just Leicester/Rutland and Kent in the range.  You'd have a more than fair chance of finding customers in any county interested in stitching a piece representing their home and area.

As ever, if you know more about this design or any of the other samplers and embroideries here, please leave a comment with any useful links and information you can provide, to make this blog as effective and informative a source as possible.

04 June 2012

Map sampler: Leicester and Rutland

As with last week's map sampler of the British Isles, I'd date this as early to mid- twentieth century: the label on the back has a twenties/thirties art deco sort of feel, to me.  Rutland as a county was abolished in 1974 and reinstated in 1997, but this sampler predates those governmental choices.

Here's a map from Wikipedia to show the location of Leicester:

The font used in the sampler, especially on the surrounding county names, is very close if not identical to that from the British Isles sampler in the previous entry.  There's a sort of local patriotism in this being stitched, county loyalty.  I can understand why someone would be moved to stitch a document of their part of the world; haven't human beings been doing this forever? All sorts of drawings and artworks and human creations are maps, of one kind of another.  This one adds as pictures a compass (very mappy), a coat of arms? or is it a Celtic knot? and what looks like a ruined castle and is probably a local landmark.  As its focus is more local than the British Isles one, it shows in stitched names a goodly number of towns and villages.

I'm guessing it was a transfer design.

If you can provide any clues about the origin of this design or any other information about it, please leave a comment with any useful links.

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