Sources and Resources for Bristol Samplers

People and Organizations

  • The George Müller Charitable Trust [GMCT] -
    I am grateful for the use of their images, for their kindness, and for making Emma, the Sisters and other girls come alive through the stories told by their orphan records. You can learn more about the history of the Müller orphanage at

  • Erna Hiscock-Shepherd owner of Hiscock and Shepherd Antiques, UK -
    Erna and her husband John have an extensive knowledge of samplers. They are also two of the best people in the business. Erna is a source for many of the samplers seen on this website. Buying from them has always been a pleasure.

  • Amy Finkel - M. Finkel & Daughter -
    The quest to learn more about Bristol samplers started with a visit to their website.

  • Rebecca Scott - Witney Antiques, UK -
    Their 2006 Stitched In Adversity exhibition sealed my love of Bristol needlework. The exhibition catalog is still available from them: Stitched in Adversity, Samplers of the Poor.

  • Madelena Antiques -
    These people are always helpful in pointing me toward information and reference sources.

The People Behind This Website

I am Claudia Dutcher Kistler. Many of the samplers you see on this website are mine. I am a counted thread needlework designer who publishes as Dutch Treat Designs. I have always liked samplers, but I had no idea I would spent the majority of my time researching samplers stitched during the 1800's in an orphanage in Bristol, England. My husband Bruce Kistler is not quite as enthusiastic about samplers as I am. He has already seen and heard more about Bristol pieces than he ever imagined he would. Bruce designed and maintains this website, and he is our main needlework photographer, for which I am grateful.

I bought my first Bristol sampler when an antique dealer friend of mine showed it to me. She picked it out for me because it had "No Cross No Crown" stitched on it. She knew I liked that saying on 1800's perforated paper bookmarks. I knew nothing about the Müller Orphan Homes or the needlework done there. I didn't even know that red was the more familiar color of thread for the majority of Bristol Samplers. The more I learned the more I realized there was more to learn. Besides seeing the amazing tiny stitches in these pieces, the bonus with these samplers is sometimes finding a story about the person who stitched the sampler. Not every type of sampler allows us to meet the person behind the stitching.

A trip to England in 2006 cemented my love for these samplers. Visiting an exhibit at Witney Antiques and the Müller House in Bristol made me want to know more and share what I was learning. The story of George Müller and God's provision for the orphans under his care, and the stories of their lives, is worth sharing. Since my first trip to England I was able to put together a pictorial sampler history for the George Müller Charitable Trust, which can be seen at Müller House in Bristol, England. I have shared what I've learned with other sampler owners/collectors, with non needlework antique collectors, and needlework groups.

None of this would have been possible without the help of other sampler owners and enthusiasts. My sincere thanks to the people who have allowed me to use the images of their Bristol pieces for this website. We all benefit because people have allowed their images and stories to be shared here. If you own a Bristol sampler with a story to share please contact us.