1800 (undated) 20.25 x 20.25 in (51.435 x 51.435 cm)
1 : 70000000
An whimsical late 18th or early 19th century silk sampler map of the Western Hemisphere. Embroidered with great skill onto silk, this map covers the Western Hemisphere from pole to pole and from New Zealand to the Cape Verde Islands. The voyages of Captain Cook are traced in considerable detail, somewhat dating the map to the period of enthusiasm following his third and final voyage of discovery. Cartographically it is similar to other maps of the period by British cartographers Laurie and Whittle and Emmanuel Bowen.
Although this map is unattributed, it is most likely the work of a British or American school girl, who would have embroidered this as a path to mastery of both geography and needlework. According to an article published by the Victoria and Albert Museum, sampler maps were often worked from a template created by a teacher or commercially pre-printed. This seems to be one such pre-printed example.
A similar map, in double hemisphere form, is owned by the Museum of New Zealand (GH016925) and attributed to Anne Margaret Hammond, 1812. That map, although different in many respects, is identical to the presently offered map with regard to the geography of the Western Hemisphere and the ethnographic vignettes appearing in each corner. This suggests that both maps were embroidered from a similar commercially printed template. And indeed, in areas where the embroidery fails, some of the original printed template can still be seen.
The present example stands out for the additional decorative flourish of Zodiacal medallions surrounding the map. The artist seems not to have finished this part of the work and some of the original printed pattern, especially in the form of the Zodiacal iconography, remains in evidence.
Fragile. Silk tended to degrade rapidly compared to other early fabrics. The present example has been adhered to linen, which may be responsible to partially preserving the delicate silk. Nonetheless, soiling, chipping, and breaks are very much in evidence. Stored under glass.
Museum of New Zealand, GH016925, id 1121796. History of samplers: 18th century, Victoria and Albert Museum, 2012.