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.