How to find antique samplers

In this post, I want to give you some tips on how you can find antique cross-stitch samplers.

Physical samplers

Where you can source samplers may depend largely on where you live. In my community, it is not common to have estate sales that are open to the public, and most second-hand stores focus on books, kitchen utensils, and clothing.

But you may be able to find samplers and other types of historical embroidery anywhere where vintage goods are sold:

  • Flea markets
  • Antique markets and antique stores
  • Auctions, including online auction sites and eBay
  • Second-hand stores
  • Estate sales
  • Facebook market and Facebook groups

Talk to your extended family and your network, and don’t forget to connect with other collectors.

Digital images of samplers

You do not have to own the original sampler to use it as inspiration for a new project or cross-stitch pattern. Many museums collect antique household items to preserve them and showcase them.

Some museums have or are starting to digitalize their collections, and you can find images (of varied quality) on their websites.

When you browse these websites, remember to read the license information and terms before you download an image.

Some museums require a commercial license even if the original item is in the public domain.
Other museums will copyright or license their photo of the object, as in the actual image you are seeing on the website; but will not object if you want to make a pattern from the original cross-stitch as long as you don’t share their photo in unlawful ways.

If anything is unclear, you should contact the museum and ask.
I have sometimes needed to wait months for a reply, but from my experience, they do eventually reply.

Finally, if you are planning to reproduce a historical sampler commercially, I recommend that you do a search to see if someone from our cross-stitch community has already re-purposed that item.

Good luck with your treasure hunt!