old stretched sampler


May 23, 2004
san miguel de allende mexico
i took apart a sampler on fine linen, dated 1806 and framed a very long time ago. it has tape (kind of like adhesive tape for wounds, all acid eaten)sewn around the edges with tiny,tiny stitches, like nobody could even do these days. the tape was still sticking to the decrepit piece of cardboard it was backed with. my question is, how important in terms of conservation is it to cut off the tape (which means cutting through all the minute stitches.) i want to mount the piece on rag mat and mat the edges. please give me your advice and ideas that may differ from my proposal. by the way, the piece is an heirloom from my family, so i won't be fooling with a customer's treasure.
Just because it is from "your family" don't think that it is not a treasure. It has lasted about 200 years and should be cherished just the same.

I do not know what exact area of Mexico that you are in, however I would still look for a textile conservator to take a look at this antiquity. Contact a local museum for a referral.
As Jerome implied, this item should be preserved,
given its age. It should not be framed, where the
light can damage the threads, rather it should
be put in a cushioned folder and stored in the
dark. A photo of the sampler can be framed, in
its place.

Cardboard? In 1806??

No matter how old the cardboard is, you are right about needing to get rid of it.

I'm confused about the tape. If it's adhesive, why was it sewn to the sampler? (It's not so hard to do those tiny stitches, it just takes a looong time.) If the tape is causing the fabric to deteriorate, it should probably be removed. Perhaps a fabric conservator would be able to de-acidify it to prevent further problems?

I'm re-thinking the cardboard question. I've never seen framing that old that includes the stuff but I have seen early 19th century hatboxes that looked like they were made from it.

Sorry, Fortuna, I'm not intending to hi-jack your very legitimate question. I'm easily distracted. Anyone conversant with the history of cardboard is welcome to email me privately rather than further disrupt this thread.

i didn't mean to imply that the piece is not a treasure, only that i don't feel quite as hesitant to deal with it.
as for the cardboard, i don't know if it was original, i sort of doubt that it had been in the frame for 199 years. the tape is very delicately sewn to the edges, which are turned under about 1/8th inch. the tape is fabric and was taped to the back of the thin piece of cardboard backing the sampler. the adhesive had hardened and deteriorated but the piece was so perfectly fitted that nothing had moved.
when i began to take it apart i was hoping to find cash! there wasn't any, but i took apart some other old family pieces and there were treasures in the frames. one was a wallace nutting photograph used as a backing for a pa dutch fractur, and behind another one was a beautiful old photo of the bridge of sighs, ca.1900. it made me wonder who else has uncovered unexpected treasures....
Fortuna the advise of Jerome and Hugh are very important. And I know there is websight here in the USA for the Consrvators,so maybe there is one in Mexico also or maybe they are the same.

However If I had to guess I'd bet as Kit suggested the Cardboard (if we are speaking about the corrugated stuff) is a more recent addition. I would also guess that some one tried to make an extender for this smaller work by adding what sounds like Lien Tape ( sometimes used as hinges even though it shouldn't be.)

the description you gave of the composition of the tape sounds very much like what you might see when older Lien tape is discovered.(the tape is fabric and was taped to the back of the thin piece of cardboard backing the sampler. the adhesive had hardened and deteriorated ) The method also sounds like someone tried to sew on extenders but used Lien tape instead of Muslin or other fabric. It could be that they felt that the tape would allow them to adhere the work to the back of the (God Awfull ) Corrugated Cardboard.( or maybe since you said "THIN" it is Illustration board or thin Upson board)

You didn't need to look any further you had already found a treasure with the needlework.

If my guesstimate is correct it probaly was reframed more recently by someone who new some of the right things to do but not all. It sort of like the old joke about being Slightly pregneant .You either are or your not.So to the framing in question is slightly correct but not ay all correct.