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  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1668 (dated)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Edlin, Martha, born 1660 - died 1725 (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Linen embroidered with silk

  • Credit Line:

    Purchased with the assistance of the National Heritage Memorial Fund and Art Fund

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 56, The Djanogly Gallery, case 6

Object Type
Samplers like this were exercises in embroidery stitches and techniques, which had become well established as part of a girl's education by the middle of the 17th century. Typically in this long thin form, they were filled with rows of repeating patterns worked in coloured silks, sometimes interspersed with figures or floral motifs. Their makers often signed and dated them, as Martha Edlin has done here.

Martha Edlin (1660-1725) worked a series of embroideries during her childhood, including this jewellery case, which were cherished by her descendants and passed down through the female line in her family for over 300 years. We know little about her life, except that she married a man called Richard Richmond and appears to have been a prosperous widow living in Pinner in Greater London at the time she drew up her will, with daughters and grandchildren.

Materials & Making
Following the usual development of needlework skills in a young educated girl in the mid-17th century, Martha Edlin embroidered a sampler in coloured silks at the age of eight, and a more complicated piece in whitework and cutwork at nine. By 1671, her eleventh year, she had embroidered the panels of an elaborate casket, and two years later this beadwork jewellery case. The needlework skills she demonstrated in these pieces would be important attributes in her adulthood, in the management of her household and the making, mending and decoration of her own and her family's clothes.

Physical description

Band sampler embroidered on linen with polychrome silks. With three alphabets, inscribed 'Martha Edlin 1668', and with floral motifs, birds and animals. Embroidered with silk in double running, cross, two-sided cross, long-armed cross and satin stitch, and with eyelets.

Place of Origin

England (made)


1668 (dated)


Edlin, Martha, born 1660 - died 1725 (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Linen embroidered with silk

Marks and inscriptions

'Martha Edlin 1668'
Decoration embroidered in silk; near lower edge


Length: 81.9 cm, Width: 21 cm

Object history note

Purchased. Registered File number 1989/1572.
Passed down through the female line (usually the eldest daughter in each generation) from the maker to the vendor.
Previously on loan to the V&A since 1927. Part of Lady Gerahty Loan and Lewis Loan. Related papers include NF for Lady Gerahty, NF for Gillian Lewis, 86/713, 89/1572.

Descriptive line

Band sampler embroidered on linen with silks, made by Martha Edlin, England, signed and dated 1668.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Ashton, Leigh. Martha Edlin: A Stuart Embroideress. Connoisseur. Vol. LXXXI pp.215-223
Browne, Clare and Jennifer Wearden, eds. Samplers from the Victoria and Albert Museum. London: V&A Publications, 1999. 144 p., ill. ISBN 1851773096.

Labels and date

British Galleries:
This is the earliest surviving piece of Martha Edlin's needlework, completed when she was eight years old. Samplers were made to show the development of a young girl's needleworking skills, through a range of stitches and techniques. [27/03/2003]


Linen (material); Silk thread



Subjects depicted

Animals; Birds; Flowers; Alphabets


Household objects; Textiles; Embroidery


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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