Identifying an Embroidery Design

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Identifying an Embroidery Design

We have an unusual request today at Ecclesiastical Sewing, and I hope some of you, our dear Readers, may be able to help identify an embroidery design.

altar cloth sewing embroidery design

We were contacted by a church in the United Kingdom, asking if we were familiar with the word or logo embroidered on this altar frontal. There is not much information to go beyond what is visible in the photo. The only other clue provided is that there is a label that states that the piece had been embroidered by Thomas Brown and Son of Manchester.

We know a little bit about Tho. Brown & Son. They created a collection of sewing embroidery designs for handwork at the end of the 19th Century, or turn of the 20th Century. That book has been republished and is available today under the title: Designs for Church Embroideries by Thomas Bown and Son.

The company operated out of a location at 31, Princess S. Manchester. They were manufacturers of Laces, Damask, and Fringes, Dealers in every Description of Textile Fabrics for Church Purposes, and Embroiderers.

Now, back to the above photo. Three of the letters are easily identified as S, I, and I. The third and fifth letters are more elusive.

If anyone is familiar with vintage types or fonts and has suggestions as to the word and its meaning, that would be most helpful. Thank you for your assistance!

Soli Deo Gloria

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  1. Dear Carrie,
    My guess would be a very stylized T and O for the third and fifth letters. This would spell the word SITIO which in Latin means “thirst”.

  2. Thank you so much for your contributions. I sent in the original request. We were unsure of whether we could actually use the altar cloth as we didn’t know its origins and could just imagine someone coming in and being offended by the inscription because they recognised it as being quite inappropriate. SGD sounds right, so we’ll certainly be using in the future now.



    • Hi Liz,
      Thanks so much for sharing. Everyone had a great time trying to figure the font out. We hope you enjooy using the piece.

      Best regards,

  3. Posted to Mary Corbet’s group on Facebook – She does a lot of liturgical designs and projects.
    Needle ‘n Thread Community
    So far the hive mind:

    PC Reimer: How about S G D, with the two lines separating them. (I note the “I’s” are symmetrical rather than identical.) Sola Gratia Deo?

    Elizabeth Wilkinson This may be far off the mark. The letter style reminds me a little of capital Gaelic lettering. I have a facsimile of a book Church Needlework by Frances Lambert and on page 89 is the IHS with the cross and looking upside down is a little similar.. P C Reiner could be right with Sola Gratis Deo .

    • Karla,
      Thanks so much for your reply and for sharing this over on Mary Corbet’s Group.

      The design certainly could be S G D. That does seem most likely.

      Thanks so much for sharing!


    • Hi Jeanne,
      Yes, this is a mystery. It is such a challenge to know what these letters are.The letters match a form, but then they don’t seem to make sense.

      Thanks for your help, especially with the Vintage Alphabet. Such a beautiful font family.