Image Sally Cann sampler

PC001651/1 | Sharing Exchange Learning Resource R2036

This is an embroidery sampler made by Sally Cann in 1853 when she was ten years old. It is made from plain woven linen embroidered in wool threads, and measures 57 cm x 60.5 cm. Depicted in the sampler in rows divided by lines of embroidery stitches are (from top to bottom) the alphabet in upper case in two different styles, the numbers 1 to 23, the alphabet in lower case and the alphabet again in upper case in a third style. The sampler also includes the words 'Remember now thy Creator in the day of thy youth', Sally Cann's name, age, month of birth, the address of either her home or her school, and the year that the sampler was completed. Ducks are embroidered in the lower left and right corners, a potted plant in the centre and a single flower at lower right, and a band of stylised strawberries around the perimeter.

Educational details

Educational value
  • This asset indicates that young girls in New Zealand practised the art of embroidery and prepared samplers showing their embroidery skills.
  • It is an example of a traditional activity of girls and young women in various parts of the world from the 16th to the 19th centuries.
  • It includes several traditional sampler features - the band, alphabets (usually one in upper case and one in lower), numbers, religious verse, name, date and the single design motif known as the 'spot'.
  • It includes unusual elements - the two additional alphabets in upper case, the large potted plant and the use of ducks as a repeated design motif.
  • It represents a link among girls in New Zealand and other parts of the world - samplers were made in Great Britain, USA, Canada and Australia at this time.
  • It indicates the emphasis on religious education and observance with the line 'Remember now thy Creator in the day of thy youth'.
  • It is a product of a gendered activity - embroidery was a largely indoor activity considered appropriate for European girls in New Zealand in 1853, while robust outdoor activities were considered appropriate for European boys of a comparable age.

Other details

  • Content provider
  • Copyright holder
  • Organisation: Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
  • Remarks: Reproduced courtesy of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
  • Author
  • Date of contribution: 1853
  • Name: Sally Cann
  • Publisher
  • Date of contribution: 28 Aug 2013
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia
  • Address: Melbourne VIC 3000 Australia
  • URL:
Access profile
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Learning resource type
  • Image
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  • © Education Services Australia Ltd and Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, 2013, except where indicated under Acknowledgements