Not your grandma’s sampler


Surgical suture sampler, circa 18th cen.
Zurich Medical History Museum
Photo from Ickybitty’s photostream

. . . unless your grandma was a trauma surgeon. This antique sampler from the Medical History Museum in Zurich represents a variety of stitch techniques appropriate for different anatomical regions and types of injury. Both the embroidery and the illustrated backing are rendered in remarkable detail:



  1. #1 Stephanie Z
    August 27, 2008

    That is just stunning. I’m cheering Ickybitty for taking the picture so I could see it and cursing him/her for not taking detail shots of everything.

  2. #2 Annie
    August 29, 2008

    Wow, that’s gorgeous. I’ve been wanting to make a sampler myself…

  3. #3 Signout
    September 1, 2008

    Oh my God, this is fantastic! It has the feel of a homey sampler, the texture and multimedia of modern collage, and the faint creepiness of an anatomy textbook. Marvelous stuff.

  4. #4 Ulla
    September 4, 2008

    Ohhh, this is facinating! Love the whole idea ~ looks beautiful but makes you turn away… Great find!

  5. #5 Jessica Palmer
    September 5, 2008

    Stephanie – the original photo on flickr is pretty big – you can probably scroll around on it and see most of what you want. The detail is pretty darn incredible – I have no idea why this treasure isn’t more widely known. (I happened upon it totally by chance while researching another post.)

  6. #6 Stephanie Z
    September 5, 2008

    I did do some of that, but I’m greedy. I want to see the illustrations better. I do know a FOAF who’s headed back to Geneva about now, though. Maybe I can interest her in a short trip with a camera. I’ll let you know if that works out.

  7. #7 Jessica Palmer
    September 5, 2008

    Great idea, Stephanie! I was just about to suggest that one of us go to Zurich in person to take more photos. . . I mean, it’s for Science, right? (and/or Art). Darn it, I wish I could. . .

  8. #8 Stephanie Z
    September 5, 2008

    Yeah, me too. Not this year.

    If I have to choose between science and art, I usually pick art. Not that science isn’t important. Art just generally has fewer people standing up to say it’s important. Something about all the intangibles, I suppose.

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