A sample of success

11th November 2021

Needlework samplers from an internationally renowned collection have sold for upwards of £260,000 at auction in Salisbury.

Some 300 samplers and textile embroideries, dating from Charles I to the time of Queen Victoria, came under the hammer at Woolley and Wallis as part of the collection of Micheál and Elizabeth Feller of Upper Slaughter Manor in the Cotswolds.

Alongside the outstanding examples of needlework were a further 600 lots of early oak furniture, English pottery, silver and treen which had been used to furnish the Elizabethan country manor house. Sold over two days, the auction concluded with a total of £1,080,000 and a sale rate of 91%.

“The Fellers were over the moon with the result of the sale, which was met with huge enthusiasm by the collecting community”, said Works of Art specialist, Mark Yuan-Richards. “The success of the auction is largely down to the rarity and extent of the collection that Micheál and Elizabeth have put together over the last few decades. Several pieces have now gone into significant national or international collections.”

Many of the samplers were illustrated and discussed in the second volume of a published catalogue of the collection that had been produced after a large part of the collection was donated to the Ashmolean Museum in 2014. One of the most sought after was an early Regency pictorial sampler dated 1802 and depicting a shepherd with his flock (lot 275). It sold for £7,500. Also of interest was a sampler produced by a 10 year old inmate of Ticehurst Asylum in Sussex in 1845 (lot 631), which fetched £3,250; while a family register sampler for the Mellor family (lot 205) reached £5,625.

“These samplers are not just beautiful and highly collectable objects, they are also incredible records of social history in the Georgian and Victorian age,” explained Yuan-Richards. “The level of skill and detail produced by these young girls of school age tells of a very different time.”

Other lots of note in the sale included a William and Mary longcase clock (lot 678) at £18,750, an oak livery cupboard from the reign of Charles I (lot 18) at £15,000, and a slipware posset pot (lot 490) at £9,375.

Summing up the auction, Mark Yuan-Richards said it had been a mixed time for the vendors. “Micheál and Elizabeth Feller were present in the saleroom for both days and, although it was an emotional time for them, they enjoyed watching items they have collected and loved find new homes where they will be similarly appreciated.”

Full sale results can be found here.

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