While watching Joy Jarrett's informative video on historic samplers (shared by Barbara and Nicola), in particular the bit about the 1702 'strawberry pickers' band sampler, I was reminded of something I read in Anne Sebba's book Samplers: Five Centuries of a Gentle Craft (1979) where the author has this to say:
"Many band samplers had one line reserved for two or three small male figures walking sideways, sometimes glancing over their shoulders, and carrying in one hand a small, unrecognizable object which could look like an acorn, a flower spray, or be heart-shape...occasionally clothed with the costume of the day which might include a tail coat and a long wig. These little figures have been the subject of much recent scholarship and have been given the name 'boxers' because of their pose with one leg forward and one arm up. It is clear, however, that the boxers derive from a motif that was frequently seen in continental Europe throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries - that of two lovers exchanging gifts. In English samplers the female lover has clearly been transformed into a bush, or a tree, or just an unrecognizable shape with splay feet and possibly sprouting acorns. But usually a head, body, arms and legs are dimly recognizable and the lover offers his sprig of foliage - the love trophy- to his being."
Like some of you, I found the strawberry figures and interspersed trees in Joy's sampler to be very charming. I have no idea if the band in her sampler is actually in the 'boxer' tradition, but found the design similarities (to those described above) to be curious and thought you might too. Below is the illustration from Anne Sebba's book depicting a 1706 'boxer' band.
I look forward to your next posts!