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Eastern Hemisphere map

Eastern Hemisphere map

Embroidered map sampler of the Eastern hemisphere of the world as it was understood by Europeans at the end of the 1700s

 

 

Eastern Hemisphere map. Photo: George Serras.

Take a closer look at the map of the Eastern Hemisphere
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Stretched and framed

Detail from embroidered map sampler of the eastern hemisphere of the world that show marks and holes left by metal pins on the edges where the silk has been tacked onto the frame

 

To get a tight, even surface for embroidery the fabric would have been stretched over a circular wooden frame or 'tambour'. You can see the marks and holes left by metal pins on the edges where the silk has been tacked onto the frame.

Red chalk and pencil drawing by the French artist Louis de Carmontelle that shows the Duchess of Chevreuse embroidering with a tambour or wooden frame, some time in the late 1700s

 

This red chalk and pencil drawing by the French artist Louis de Carmontelle shows the Duchess of Chevreuse embroidering with a wooden frame or 'tambour', sometime in the late 1700s. Courtesy: Carmontelle Musee Conde, Chantilly, France/Giraudon/The Bridgeman Art Library.

Tracing the map

Detail from embroidered map sampler of the eastern hemisphere of the world that shows the word 'AFRICA'

 

If you look closely at the word 'AFRICA' you can see some parts are sewn and some inked. The maker traced the map onto the silk, leaving ink guidelines. The maps could be purchased already printed onto the fabric. This sampler was probably created at a school where the girls saved money by copying the maps themselves.

The pattern map

This embroidered map has been traced from a map of the world designed especially for 'Ladies needlework and young students of geography' by the London printing firm Laurie and Whittle.

Embroidered map traced from a map of the world designed especially for 'Ladies needlework and young students of geography' by the London printing firm Laurie and Whittle

 

The company produced a range of paper patterns and maps printed directly on silk, and sold them with coloured silks, a wooden stretcher and gilt frames for displaying the final work.

An unfinished embroidery featuring the Laurie and Whittle world map of 1798 printed onto silk

 

An unfinished embroidery featuring the Laurie and Whittle world map of 1798 printed onto silk. Courtesy: Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, Smithsonian Institution.

Take a closer look at this unfinished embroidery
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Coloured silks

The embroiderer has used two or three rows of coloured silk stitches to emphasise the borders of countries and other geographical features. These outlines imitate the watercolour highlights seen on hand coloured maps. Spidery threadwork on the back of the sampler shows that the coloured embroidery silks have faded. They were once bright yellow, pink, green and gold.

Detail of the front section of an embroidered map of the eastern hemisphere of the world that shows rows of coloured stitches

 

The front of this section of the map shows the rows of coloured stitches.

Detail of back section of an embroidered map of the eastern hemisphere of the world that shows how rows of coloured stitches were worked

 

The back of the map shows how the stitches were worked and their original bright colours.

Illustration from a 1750s encyclopaedia that shows how silk threads were dyed

 

This illustration from a 1750s encyclopaedia shows how silk threads were dyed. Courtesy: The Bridgeman Art Library.

Accuracy not required!

The maker of this embroidery has reversed the positions of Botany Bay and Port Jackson on the map. It is understandable, given the settlements may have been little more than 10 years old when the map was sewn.

Detail of an embroidered map of the eastern hemisphere of the world that shows how the maker has reversed the positions of Botany Bay and Port Jackson

 

Embroidered maps often contained errors — it seems teachers were more concerned that girls put their stitches in the right place than about geographical accuracy.

Image of sampler that shows how Ann Brown may have incorrectly joined England to France and Ireland because she mistook the cuts in a jigsaw map for borders

 

Ann Brown may have incorrectly joined England to France and Ireland on her sampler because she mistook the cuts in a jigsaw map for borders. Courtesy: Witney Antiques.

Take a closer look at Ann Brown's sampler
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Jigsaw puzzles of maps of the eastern and western hemispheres of the world

 

Jigsaw puzzles were invented as geographical toys for children, and this one was probably made by printing firm Laurie and Whittle in about 1794. Courtesy: Hampshire County Council.

Names for New Holland

The embroiderer of this map seems to have had a particular interest in Australia and its history. She has inked in the locations and dates of Dutch claims on New Holland ('Leeuwin's Land 1622' and 'Nuyts Land 1627') and coloured the part of the coast charted by Cook differently to the rest.

Detail of of an embroidered map of the eastern hemisphere of the world that shows inked in locations and dates of Dutch claims on New Holland

 

Her attention to Australia also helps to date the map — Tasmania is attached to the mainland, showing the embroidery was made before 1800, when a map displaying Bass Strait was first printed.

Chart of Bass Strait by Matthew Flinders published in London in 1800

 

This chart of Bass Strait by Matthew Flinders published in London in 1800 proved Tasmania was an island. Courtesy: State Library of New South Wales.

Take a closer look at this chart of Bass Strait
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