Last weekend my mother gave me an old, very colourful sampler that was made by someone in my family. Although it was not clear who made it, we assumed it was made by my great-aunt. Previously I had received other small needlework pieces we think were made by her even though they were made at a later date (1910's) than the 1902 on this sampler. I put the sampler in a bag and yesterday I thought I'd share a quick photo of it on Instagram as I know many followers would appreciate the stitching work on this sampler. After I had posted it I noticed some loops on the sides of the fabric that made me think this was a tea towel not 'just' a sampler. I also saw a small brand or fabric name printed in the right hand corner ('Reinleinen') and assumed it was the tea towel manufacturer. I became curious and started googling and searching the internet for more information.
Soon I found an example of the exact same sampler on a local Dutch site, and the strange thing was that it also had the exact same year, 1902, on it. On further inspection it turned out to be a fabric with the designs, colours and date printed on, ready to stitch! This made me question whether '1902' was the actual date that 'my' sampler was stitched. And if it wasn't 1902, when was it stitched and by who?
With Google Image Search I even found some US and Canada sellers online where you could still buy the tea towel with prices ranging from about 20$ to 80$. With such a variety in pricing I'm assuming these would be vintage items for sale, not modern reproductions.
I then looked up the name 'Reinleinen' which points to Germany and after a while I came across this charming version of a stamped tea towel. Somewhat similar to the Sampler tea towel I think, but a bit more jolly as it says: 'Five are invited, Ten came, Pour water in the soup and welcome all'. And there the trail ends. I have no idea what date to put on my Sampler and can only make an educated guess. Even if it isn't from 1902, I think it's likely that it's from before the start of the Second World War, maybe the 1930's or earlier. Quite honestly, I'm not convinced that anyone in my family would have been buying German tea towels, however lovely, right after the war. The design itself, quite traditional, folkloric with the Gothic alphabet wouldn't have been popular over here in the 50's or 60's either.
I still wonder why the year 1902 was pre-printed on the fabric. It wasn't a special year in German history but it was a special year in Great Britain, as it was the year of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra's coronation. As you can see the sampler does have a few crowns, a happy couple and some 'love birds'. And Queen Alexandra did have some connection with Germany. I'm not an expert though and if there's anyone who has more information about the date and meaning of this Sampler tea towel, let me know. I'd love to find out more!