A Map of the World from the Latest Discoveries
Georgian Period Embroidered Sampler

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Silk Embroidered Double Hemisphere World Map
Silk Embroidered Double Hemisphere World Map detail Silk Embroidered Double Hemisphere World Map detail Silk Embroidered Double Hemisphere World Map detail
Silk Embroidered Double Hemisphere World Map detail Silk Embroidered Double Hemisphere World Map detail Silk Embroidered Double Hemisphere World Map detail

Above are details of the four corner illustrations and two map details. The top center detail shows North America including "Land supposed to be seen from Bering Is." in the upper left corner and the American West labeled "New Albion." The bottom center detail calls Australia "New Holland" with Van Diemen's Land connected to the mainland, as it was believed to be until 1798-99. The dotted line is the track of one of Captain Cook's voyages.

Silk Embroidered Double Hemisphere World Map detail

Detail of the South Pacific. The dotted line is the track of one of Captain Cook's voyages. The antipodes of London are marked in the lower left corner. Antarctica is left blank, except for a small fragment of coastline southeast of the Falkland Islands.

Silk Embroidered Double Hemisphere World Map detail Silk Embroidered Double Hemisphere World Map detail

Above left, the cartouche with the map title, flanked by allegorical figures of age and youth. Above right, the schoolgirl or young woman who stitched the map embroidered her name in the lower cartouche.

Mary Ann Wood
A Map of the World from the Latest Discoveries, Embroidered Sampler
British: c. 1790 to 1815
Silk embroidery on silk backing
16.75 x 30 inches, overall
17.75 x 31 inches, gilt frame
Sold, please inquire as to the availability of similar items.

A fine and rare English double hemisphere world map sampler. The cream colored silk ground is embroidered with a variety of stiches with black, white, red, pink, gold, blue and tan silk threads. The maps are subtitled "Western Hemisphere or the New World," and "Eastern Hemisphere or the Old World." The cartography includes continents, some countries and other additional geographical subdivisions, as well as lines of latitude and longitude, the equator, Tropics of Capricorn and Cancer, polar circles and the ecliptic. The "Antipodes of London" are indicated southeast of New Zealand. Numerous place names are included. The tracks of Captain Cook's first voyage, 1768-1771, are indicated. In the four corners of the map are embroidered pictorial illustrations of the peoples of Europe, Asia, Africa and America. A cartouche in the upper center is embroidered with the title and flanked by two winged figures representing youth and age -- a putto and Father Time holding a scythe. A round cartouche in the lower center is adorned with drapery and tassels and the name of the schoolgirl or young woman who did the embroidery.

In 18th and 19th century Europe and America, female students commonly practiced geography and developed artistic skills by drawing and painting maps as well as embroidering them on silk, satin or linen. According to an online article by the Victoria and Albert Museum, 18th-century students generally either produced their own designs or worked from a basic design drawn on the fabric by a teacher or governess, with the student filling in the place names and smaller geographic boundaries herself. Pre-printed silks and paper patterns of map designs were also in wide use. Map samplers provided an opportunity for the girl to demonstrate both her academic accomplishments in geography and her needlework skills.

The design of this sampler by Mary Anne Wood is substantially similar to a silk embroidered sampler by Anne Margaret Hammond in the collection of the Museum of New Zealand. Each sampler, worked in similar threads, features a double hemisphere map, with similar decorations of peoples of the continents in the spandrels and a cartouche title in the upper center flanked by Father Time and a putto. Nonetheless, there are differences in the two samplers, generally in execution and detail. The offered sampler by Mary Ann Wood features more geographical place names. Another difference is that she signed her sampler in the cartouche in the lower center, in comparison with the example by Anne Margaret Hammond that has a compass rose within the similarly positioned and executed lower center cartouche. The Hammond sampler is instead marked on the backside “Worked by Anne Margaret Hammond in the year of our Lord 1812.” It should be noted, however, that the name “Mary Ann Wood” is embroidered with less skill and in a different style of lettering than the title and place names on the rest of her map suggesting that her name might have been added later (perhaps by Mary Ann Wood or by one of her descendants).

It is apparent from these two similar examples that the design for this map as an embroidery exercise was a standard design of the period. As expected, there are variations in each sampler, depending largely on the discretion of the embroiderer or her teacher. The example by Mary Anne Wood, in addition to having more detailed cartography and more place names than that of the one by Hammond, is also of much higher quality with respect to embroidery skill. This is particularly apparent on the finer detail in the illustrations of the continents.

Although the sampler was probably derived from a standard design, initially the cartographic portion was likely taken from an engraved British double hemisphere map of the era. Based on the cartography, the map would have dated approximately between 1771 -- when Captain Cook returned from his first voyage (the lines of this voyage indicated on the embroidery) -- and 1799, when (as on the embroidery) "Van Diemen's Land" (Tasmania) was still shown as attached to the Australian mainland. Indeed, some of the labeling and format on the embroidery bears a similarity to a Laurie & Whittle map published in London in 1794 (see References below). Nonetheless, the sampler might be later, as indicated by the 1812 date of the similar Hammond embroidery. This would account for discrepancies such as Van Diemen’s Land still being shown as a peninsula notwithstanding discoveries to the contrary in 1798-99; such changes might not have been incorporated into the sampler design until many years later.

As indicated above, in the offered map embroidery, Mary Ann Wood gave particular attention to the inclusion of a relatively large number of geographic place names. In the Eastern Hemisphere, northern Scandinavia is labeled Lapland, Russia is called "Russia or Muscovy," and adjacent to Turkey is a region marked "Tartar." In Asia, Siberia is called "Asiatick Russia," with the portion above the Arctic Circle labeled "Parts Unknown." Central Asia is divided into "Usbek," "Independant Tartary" and "Chinese Tartary," and Japan is called "Niphon." India encompasses present day India and the mainland of Southeast Asia. The Middle East is divided into Persia, Arabia, and Egypt. West Africa includes large territories called "Sarrah or Desart of Barbary," "Negroland," and "Upper Guinea." East Africa is called Ethiopia and southern Africa is called "Cafraria."

Similar attention is paid in this sampler to geography of the Western Hemisphere. California is depicted as a peninsula, the Pacific Northwest is called New Albion, and the general vicinity of Alaska is labeled "Land supposed to be seen from Bering Is." On the East Coast of North America, Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina are labeled. The Midwest is called "Louisiana." Central America is called "New Spain" and South America is divided into Paraguay, "Chili," "Firma Guayana," Peru and "Maghelhanic Lands." The "R[iver] of Amazons" and the "Oronoko" are also shown.


"A new map of the World with Captain Cook's tracks, his discoveries and those of the other Circumnavigators." London: Laurie & Whittle, 1794. Online at "Historical Maps of the World," University of Alabama. http://alabamamaps.ua.edu/historicalmaps/world/before1800c.html (17 January 2013).

"Double Hemisphere Sampler." Museum of New Zealand. http://collections.tepapa.govt.nz/objectdetails.aspx?oid=1121796 (24 January 2013).

"History of samplers: 18th century." Victoria and Albert Museum. 2012. http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/h/history-of-samplers-18th-century/ (17 January 2013).

"Voyaging with a needle." National Museum Australia. http://www.nma.gov.au/collections/collection_interactives/european_voyages/
european_voyages_to_the_australian_continent/empire/voyaging_with_a_needle (24 January 2013).