Marking samplers, such as this one, were typically produced by children between the ages of three and nine as an exercise in "plain work," or basic sewing and embroidery skills. Their simple compositions usually consist of bands of text composed or selected by the pupil's tutor, or her older female relations. Martha Washington's seven-year-old granddaughter, Martha Parke Custis, made this sampler. Her rendering of the Lord's Prayer and the Ten Commandments can be seen as both as a lesson in reading and writing, and as an instruction in Christian faith.


Rectangular marking sampler; the linen ground is embroidered with successive bands of queen and cross stitches in polychrome silk threads denoting the signature of Martha Custis, the date of its completion, the Lord's Prayer, and the Ten Commandments; all edges are hemmed with the exception of the bottom, which is the selvedge.






Bast fiber, silk


Overall: 25 3/4 in. x 14 7/8 in. (65.41 cm x 37.8 cm)

Credit Line

Purchased with funds donated by Mrs. Stanley N. Gaines, Vice Regent for Florida and Mr. Gaines, 2008


Cross stitched in blue thread in the upper right hand corner of the sampler: "Martha Custis.December 1784".

Object Number


Colors (Beta)

Mount Vernon's object research is ongoing and information about this object is subject to change. For information on image use and reproductions, click here.
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