1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Sampler
SAMPLER (from O. Fr. essemploire, with dropping of initial a, Late Lat. exemplariam, from exemplum, example; it is a doublet of “ examplar ” or “ exempler,” as “ sample ” is of “ example ”), a model or pattern to be copied, particularly a small rectangular piece of embroidery worked on canvas or other material as a pattern or example of a beginner's skill in needlework, as a means of teaching the stitches. Down to comparatively recent times every little girl worked her “ sampler,” and examples of 17th-century work are still found and have become the object of the collector's search. They usually contained the alphabet, the worker's name, the date, and Bible texts, verses, mottoes, the whole surrounded with some conventional design.
The earliest sampler in existence is dated 1643 and is in the Victoria and Albert Museum, South Kensington (see M. B. Huish, Samplers and Tapestry Embroideries, 1900, and List of Samplers in the Victoria and Albert Museum, South Kensington, Board of Education, South Kensington, 1906).