Samplers released from Aalsmeer – 995068/9 – 1977 – S. Zijverden-Reeuwijk

Translation from Loes Egberink


It was Spring 1976 that someone of the board of the foundation (Stichting) “Oud bb_u2048789_0__merklappenuitaalsmeersbezitAalsmeer” suggested to have an exhibition of samplers. Mrs. S. van Zijverden-van Reeuwijk gave several interesting lectures asking the ladies to bring the samplers they had in their possession.It was because of all the preparatory work that many of the ‘Aalsmeerse merklappen’ (samplers of Aalsmeer) could be inventoried.Mrs. S. van Zijverden-van Reeuwijk also made the first contacts between the foundation “Oud Aalsmeer” and the “Outdoor Museum” in Arnhem (het Openlucht Museum te Arnhem).Summer 1977 all the samplers were studied by Mrs. A. Meulenbelt-Nieuwburg, head of the Department of Crafts and Textiles of the “Outdoor Museum” in Arnhem. Both ladies worked on the description of the samplers included in this catalog.The “Outdoor Museum” also has cooperated in the realization of this exhibition.Besides thanking both ladies, I want to thank Mr. J. Alderden for his collaboration by photographing all the samplers printed in this catalog. Finally, and not in the last place, all ladies and gentlemen must be mentioned who were prepared to give up their family property for this exhibition.Thank you to all for the pleasant reception at your home and your enthusiastic participation and your efforts to make this exhibition into a success.Because of lack of space it will not be possible to see most of the 150 samplers.


In addition to the designation “merklap” of ‘letter lap” in The Netherlands there are for this kind of embroidery regional also other names fashionable.
Marken (Province North-Holland) : ‘uitkijklap’ or ‘vernaaide doek’ (lookout cloth)
Marken: an island at the top on the right
Groningen (Province and city Groningen) : ‘neidoek’ (dialect for naaidoek)
Groningen (city and province)
Cadzand (Province Zeeland) : ‘teik’n lap’or ‘têêk’n lap’ (pronounce: tjikk’n lap)
Cadzand (Province Zeeland) at the left downside corner
On a sampler of 1854 it says “De leesteekendoek behoor Doe aan Pitronella de Laat” (“The punctuation mark cloth belongs to Pitronella de Laat”.) This is in Old Dutch.
Abroad you will find the following names:
Germany : Mustertuch Sweden : Märduker = merklap – sampler
Norway : Naveduker = naamdoek – name cloth
Prøveduker = proefdoek – specimen cloth
Denmark : Navne klude = naamdoek – name cloth Laere klude = leerdoek – learning cloth Italy : Canovàccio per marcare
Spain : Marcado = merklap France : Marquoir = merklap England : Sampler or exemplar (derived from the French exemplaire or essemplaire)
Latin: exemplum = example The last explanation is the most acceptable, because the sampler is used by embroideries as an example lap (cloth?) before as well as after the release of pattern books


That the decoration on the clothing and linen plays a large role in the study of patterns is obvious course. We can go back to:
  1. Prehistory (i.e. plaited leaves)
  2. The classical period (approximately 3000 B.C. – 300 A.C.) – Egypt, Crete, Persia
  3. Modern times that started with Byzantium
Period b. has its after-effects until after 1500 B.C. The suit that follows civilization, there is a clear reflection, it follows the tradition of a particular country or a particular region in the country, the products in textiles and the requirements of the religion As for the products in textiles it is of interest that the patterns are specially designed for needlework and weaving.
Different art historians point out that these patterns are taken from other examples of which many revert in medieval tradition and that they are closely influenced by patterns of oriental fabrics or even older art in stone, metal or wood.
Before the 14th century we seldom hear of some designers of textile art. Sometimes the workshops are mentioned and sometimes the clients are sometimes called or the principals. For example, the embroidery workshop of Jacopo Campi in Florence.
In the 14th century north of the Alps, mente para linen towels, tablecloths, altar fittings, ecclesiastical textiles etcetera are fabricated after Italian example (Perugia).The edged have patterns of symmetric oppositely disposed animals alternated by trees, houses etc. Interesting comparisons are the hunger cloths of West-Falen (Westphalia). These hunger cloths were hung on Ash Wednesday on the main altar as Lent began.
Embroidered hunger cloths were made i.e. in the Praemonstratenzer nunnery in Altenberg a/d Lahn and one from 1300 in the Listenzienser nunnery in Zebdenich-Brandenburg. The sampler must once have been an exemplary piece. I.e. the motifs were taken from the exemplary piece and presumably new designs were added by the artist.
That samplers existed in the 15th century and earlier one can certainly assume, for on the painting “The holy family” by Joost van Cleve (± 1520) a folded sampler can be seen. This painting is in possession of “The Currier Gallery of Art”, Manchester, New Hampshire (see image 1).

Page 7 of the book after (see figure 1) – 16 Onderricht

Of course, also the economic and trade relations are important to examine how the patterns are passed from country to country.

How this was influenced from other countries came about:

  1. over land i.e. by pilgrimage, campaigns and from castle to castle;
  2. over sea, i.e. trade and exploration.
After 1500 the extraordinary economic situation of Italy is undermined by the discovery of the sea route to Indonesia (Indië) by the Portuguese and further movement of trade to countries along the North Sea.
Thus, the republics Venice (trade relations with Eastern countries) and Genoa became trading powers of the second plan.
Milan and Florence in particular be displaced by the southern German cities. The Netherlands passes through a turbulent time during the Spanish rule. Around 1600 change sets in where economic and trade relations play a major role between war and peace.
Between 1600 and 1675, one can speak of a golden age of the North Dutch culture and economy. Thus, Aalsmeer has had export of trees and shrubs in the 17th century. Fishing, farming, and mining the abundant peatlands, have been the oldest livelihoods.
Fish merchants from the Zaanstreek bought the catches, which they resold to France and England. (Zaanstreek is the region around Zaandam.) Also, the bleacheries and the spinning and weaving mills have played an important role.
Aalsmeer gets the patronage of the Amsterdam linen and cotton spinning and weaving mills.
Several species are bleached in Aalsmeer. (See the Monograph Edition “De Blekerij” door H.W.M. Plettenburg of the Dutch Open-air Museum (Nederlands Openluchtmuseum)).
Is it because of these trade relations that there is a strong resemblance between the samplers from the Zaanstreek and that of Aalsmeer? (See motif of the five wise and five foolish virgins.)
So far for The Netherlands we can only compare the motives of the 17th century samplers with other textiles from earlier centuries., i.a. vestments, samplers from other countries or with motives from old pattern books. This investigation is still ongoing.


Paul Engelmeier says in his book that in the 18th and 19th century the embroiderers did not want to use the plant and animal motives from previous centuries.
They were using the pattern books of Hans Sibmacher and of the Italian Vavassore, “Exemplario di Lavori”, Venice 1530.
Especially Germany and Italy have published many pattern books. France and England certainly should not be forgotten.


The first pattern book by Schönsberger “Furin- oder Modelbuchlein” was printed in 1523.
In his second book “Ein Neu Modelbuch” (1524) one can find something of an alphabet.
In 1527 the book “Eyn Neu Kunstlich Boich” by Peter Quentel is printed and in 1529 the book “Musterbuch für Ornamente und Stickmuster”. In this book designs and borders by Schönsberger were used.
A reprint, published by Leipziger Kunstgewerbe Museum, appeared in 1882. Bernard Jobin, (1579 – 1600) “Neu Künstlichs Modelbuch”, printed in Straszburg.
Johann Sibmacher, (1597) “Schon Neues Modelbuch”, printed in Nürnberg. Johann Sibmacher, (1602) “Neues Modelbuch”, printed in Nürnberg. (see figure 2) Helena Fürstin, (1660, 1666, 1676, 1728), “Das Neues Modelbuch”, printed in Nürnberg.


Italy takes the patterns from the German pattern books.
Paganino, Libro primo de rechami ecc. facsimile dalIa stampa originale del 1527; (vedi Buratto). Venezia, 1878. (Raccolta di opere antiche sui discgni tei merletti di Venezia, 9 nr. 95). (Old Italian cross stitch patterns.)
Giovanni Andrea Vavassore, (1530) “Carona di racammi”, printed in Venice, in which examples of stylized animal motives for cross stitch, filet and Holbein work. Well known is the book “Exemplario di Lavorere (1552), printed in Venice, in which examples for animals, vases and flowers. Nicole Zoppino, (1532) “Convivio delle belledonne”, printed in Venice.
Paganino, (1532) has compiled several pattern books in which he made use of German pattern books.
Giovanni Andrea Vavassore tot Paganio Vinciolo (1594) “Neu Modelbuch”, in which a cloth is depicted which at the discretion of A. Lotz should be the image of a sampler.
At the end of the 16th century we can see that France gets its own compilers to Italian pattern books, i.a. “Le Maistro et Volant” (1565) printed in Lyon. 20 years later Kernt Regaux (1585) “Le Trésors des patrons” and Jacques le Moyne (see England). In 1703-1770 Francois Boucher made many designs with shepherd scenes in “broderie en nuance” (embroidery in shade). These are grateful motives also i.a. for fire screens.Over the course of the 17th century France takes over the leadership of Italy. Around 1665 many workshops for weaving ascend.
These were provided with patterns from Paris. Especially many Chinese silk embroideries imported from the Levant are very popular.
The more northern countries, always less exuberant in their utterances, keep a little less effusive in their expressions opposite the baroque strict Renaissance style. The rococo period will bring some southern grace in the moody Protestant countries. After 1770 the fashion magazine “Gallerie des Modes” appears with Esnants en Rapilly and the “Courrier des Modes”. During the Revolution the French fashion plates don’t appear for a while. But in 1796 “Le Journal des Dames et des Modes” appears. This magazine excists until 1831 and also includes embroidery patterns.


In 1586 the book “La Chef des Champs” by Jacques le Moyne, in which patterns of flowers, birds and animals provided with captions in Latin, German, French and English is printed in England. The pattern book “New and Singular Patternes and works of linnen” by John Wolf was printed in 1591 in England. This is an English translation of the works by Vecellio, which was printed in France in 1587.
William Barley (1596) “A book of curious and strange Inventions”. Shorleyker, (1624) “A scholehouse for the needle”. In 1640 the book “The needles excellency” by John Boler is printed. The book is composed by John Taylor. In this book also patterns from the book of Sibmacher are used. William Simpoon (1650), “The second book of flowers, fruits, beats, birds and flies”. In the 18th century (around 1729) at schools was embroidered into existing designs.
Especially in the early 19th century the folders with cross stitch designs appear. In 1805 with gouache colored or color made cross-stitch patterns appear.Pattern booklets were especially printed for children, i.a. “The Embroidery and Alphabet Sampler Book”.
In 1882 the “Dictionary of Needle Work” by Gaulfield and Saward, in which a chapter “To make a sampler”. At the end of the 19th century fashion magazines appear, i.a. “Weldon’s Practical Publication” and Higgen’s “Handbook of Embroidery”.
In general after 1840 a time starts of dilettantism in the embroidery, which degrades a trade to a kind of time fulfillment. The ‘cozy’ home life demanded that women kept themselves occupied in their free time with needlework. Even when visiting it was “comme it faut” to bring your needlework. This way there was an avalanche of tacky and unnecessary embroidery products poured on interiors and clothing.


 It is widely known that in the monasteries hand needle art work have been made by women hands. In the monastery schools they were taught in embroidery, sewing, mending, spinning and weaving before the appearance of the pattern books.
In ‘Twentsche Eigenheimers’, a book by Mr. G. J. ter Kuile sr. (1936), is told how Jutte Ripperda (1534 – 1608) gave i.a. needlework lessons to orphan children.
In the same book we read the description of life in a stift (convent for ladies of nobility) ( that within the ‘stift canal’ usually no more than three of the elder Jufferen (old Dutch for ladies) lived, each in their own home.
The three eldest ‘huyshoudende Jufferen” (ladies doing the housekeeping) were “obliged to teach some younger colleagues who so desired, useful and fine needlework, and take a reasonable fee to pay for part of the costs for their livelyhood”.
The test patches already mentioned in the beginning are a kind of test papers, which had to be fulfilled to learn to master the foundations of the craft techniques.
The 17th century samplers clearly show that the girls had to first learn to embroider the various borders, motifs, letters and figures before applying for clothing and linen.
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For the little pious embroiderer Bible stories, symbols and sayings have been a part of her life.

Thanks to the data that makers often have left about themselves in the form of embroidered name letters and dates, we know that the needle workers were girls aged 6 to 18 years.

With scrupulous accuracy, each young woman took over the old motifs. With deft hand she has embroidered her allegorical motifs. I.a. Christ on the cross, the tree of paradise with Adam and Eve, the five wise and five foolish virgins, etc. (See motifs).

During the 1700’s, the number of motifs of the Scripture grew: among others, the Fall; spies of Canaan; Jacob’s fight with the Angel.

In the New Testament it is first the Crucifixion; Arma Christi, consisting of the spell, spear with sponge, warrior, nails, drilled mantle, dice, Peter, rooster, ladder, Christ at the source with the Samaritan woman; Lamb of God; Flaming heart; crowned deer pierced by arrows; chalice; IHS.

As early as 1622, there are reports of the so-called French schools.

In 1634 a skilled schoolmate was sought, who could teach the young daughters in French. In 1648, two “French woman” were appointed as French boarding school school holders, but a few years later their “donatijff” was not renewed.

In 18th century, such persons appeared regularly; female both male, who enjoyed grants and apparently held school for their ow account.

At the end of the 18th century, French time brought about a new organization of education.

It is also known that civic and noble ladies or mothers of young girls learned the first principles of embroidery, sewing and adjusting.

Especially in the 19th century embroidery came in fashion. The woman of civilization opened her house and environment to French habits. The ladies were little involved with the household, but allowed them to make poems and beautiful handcrafts. Particularly carefully crafted textiles of the finest linen from the late 18th and 19th centuries were manufactured. These often display behind glass in the homes of wealthy citizens.

Legislation in the 18th and 19th centuries gives schools and internates (boarding schools?) instruction in sewing and crafting techniques, which do not leave the orphanages. Especially in Limburg and Brabant, the meter-length sewing and handicraft technology fabrics were created in the internatals   (boarding schools).

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Thus, Cornelia Wilhelmina Blankert, aged 13, born October 22, 1881, in the linen sewing school of Burgerweeshuis Molenwater in Middelburg, worked on a letter lap (1894), doorstoplap (1895), stoplap (1896) and a letter lap (1897). High quality technical workmanship.

By Article 1 of the Royal Decree of 24 October 1884 (Official Gazette No. 219), the Act of Competence for the Useful Handicrafts for Primary Education can be obtained. (See afb.3 and 4 coll. Ned. Open Air Museum with the advanced tests of skill.). On 2 June 1921 a sewing and cutting school was founded in Aalsmeer. 9 January 1922 there was a room available at the Kanaalstraat.


The 17th century samplers, lettersamplers, white and white flaps (comparable to the so-called Hardanger) clearly show that the girls had to first embroider the different traditional borders, motifs, letters and numbers before applying on shirt collars, wipes, throat bands, tanned ribbons, beeches, hats and linens are used. Different borders from narrow to wide were placed horizontally along the left or right sides of the cloth. On the remaining part of the cloth, the motives, letters and numbers randomly or with consultation. A saying, the name and age of the maker, the alphabet, numbers and the year were placed parallel to the sides.

In Noord-Holland komen de volgende spreuken voor:

The following sayings appear in North Holland:

(they are in Old Dutch or dialect)

 Merklap 1640 (privébezit, Marken)Sampler 1640 (private property, Marken) Och dat hem die werelt wendeen dat een igelick hem selve kende en liet een ander zijn gebrecken staenhet soude beter in de werelt gaenGemaakt door “Trijntie Jans dochter out tien jaar”. Made by “Trijntie Jans daughter age ten years”.

Op een merklap 1663 (coll. NOM) en merklap 1670 (privébezit, Marken)On a sampler 1663 (colle NOM) and sampler 1670 (private property, Marken) Hoe schoone wi bloernen staen.Als Godt belieft ist haest gedaenBetrout niet op het goed dat vergaetMaer op het woord dat eeuwich vast staet. Respectievelijk gemaakt door:Respectively made by:  Annetje Muies dochter out elf jaarAnnetje Muies daughter age eleven yearsNeeltje Jacobs dochter out negen jaar.Neeltje Jacobs daughter age nine years.

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Deed op competence for PRIMARY EDUCATION


The Examination Board, under Art. 1 of the Royal Decree of 24 October 1884 (Government Gazette No. 219), appointed by the Minister of the Interior by a decision of 23rd January 1889, no. 118, d. O, has examined in her sessions of 4 March 1889 Merouw Iedema (Luutske)

Born on January 13, 1865 in Oudehorne, in the subjects described in Program A, I, belonging to the Royal Decree announced above, as a result of that exam, the ACT OF MESSAGE handed out the useful craft.

Zwolle, March 4, 1889


Free of seal and the right to registration pursuant to the Royal Decree of 25 October 1880, No. 21 and March 12, 1881, No. 6.


Issued by Art. 27, 51 or 59 the law governing the



The MAYOR OF HENNAARDERADEEL declares that Luutske Iedema, without occupations Living in … has lived in this municipality for the past two years, She has behaved morally during that time

Wommels, February 9, 1889

The mayor mentioned, Registered for free at Bolsward, the ninth of February 1800 nineteenth in Part 65

NOTE:  Need to work on this one more…

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Merklap 1688 (coll Z.Z.M.)Sampler1688 (coll. Z.Z.M.)

O Heer wilt min regeren in min jonge jeught
Dat ick perfect mach leeren met konst en de deught
O Heer laet min opwassen in deughden en
Geleide min in de eeuwige vrughen
Geen hooger lot can men ter werelt wenschen
AIs liefde tot Godt en vrede met alle menschen

Gemaakt door “Lolletie Nanninghs dochter out tien jaar”.
Made by “Lolletie Nanninghs daughter age ten years”

In Friesland komt een spreuk voor op een Merklap 1711.
In Friesland there is a saying on a Sampler 1711.

Soete – lief – daer – is – min – trou
Doet – niet – dat – U – berout
Ver – sent – ert – ghi – beg – ent
So – wort – ghi – niet – bedrogen – faert- wel.

Op de knottedoeken komen de volgende spreuken voor:

The following sayings appear on the knot cloths:

Knottedoek 1656 en 1671.
Knot cloths 1659 and 1671