Home Victorian Mottoes    
Victorian Berlin Wool on punch paper ca. 1880's
   
After Clouds Sunshine  
The Lord is My Shepherd
God is Love
The Old Arm Chair
The Old Arm Chair 2
God Bless Our Home
 
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History of the Victorian motto

In the 1800's a method of needlework called Berlin work became the rage. Its popularity was due to the fact that until that time, needlework had always been "counted" as in cross stitch. This "Berlin work" was the first printed pattern needlework. Its ease of stitching became a popular pastime.
Victorian era mottos were born out of this style of Berlin work. Unlike Berlin patterns, these pattern were printed on heavy punched cardboard and became known more commonly as perforated "card work". Because the paper was more affordable than linen, this made the needlework a luxury that all women could now afford. Mottos were hand stitched in brightly colored variegated threads on printed punched paper and typically framed in a Currier & Ives style frame. The text was usually a Christian value, Scriptural quotation, or an otherwise important ideal worthy of constant view in the home - hence they became known as "mottos". They were placed in an area of prominence in the home, such as over a doorway, for all to see. Motto patterns could be found in the popular woman's magazines of the day, such as Harper's Bazaar, Godey's, Leslie's and Peterson's . These magazines commonly carried patterns for bookmarks that had themes such as "Love In Absence", "Remember Me", "Forget Me Not", and "Look To Jesus." Mark Twain and Laura Ingalls Wilder both reference mottos or perforated card work in their books.
Patterns were ordered via post. Great Grandmothers tell how they arrived creased and that creases needed to be ironed out. Then they began their loving handwork using whatever threads they had available. The patterns are numerous and beautiful and each motto varied in the way that it was stitched. The threads and colors differ due to the "make due with what you have" reality of the day.