learn more about brass advertising thimbles
Most thimble collectors will know of aluminium advertising thimbles, which were produced in their millions, mainly in the 1920s and 1930s. There are thousands of different advertising brands available and it would be such a difficult topic for me to tackle - especially to find photos. I do have a database of different aluminium brands and there are currently 1350 on it. Most of these thimbles originate in the USA, advertising American products and services.
Most aluminium advertising thimbles have a colour around the band, which emphasises the name of the product being advertised, as the lettering is left clear of colour. Some have coloured apexes - known as 'glass' tops but it is just a coloured piece of plastic which usually matches the colour on the band.
Brass advertising (including promotional or marketing) thimbles on the other hand are found far less frequently - now numbering 182 different adverts - and they would have been produced earlier than the aluminium ones - but I don't know when - my guess would be from the 1880s onwards to the 1920s, after which aluminium thimbles were so much cheaper to produce. They were made in far fewer numbers and tho more durable than aluminium, not as many have survived. There are very few brass US brands on thimbles, the preponderance being made for British and other European products.
When I began this research, I would have guessed that there were more British products advertised than European - but the reverse is true - more French and German!!
Most brass advertising thimbles are just the one colour of brass, with no coloured band - the exception to this is some of the French thimbles: they have muted colours on the bands.
Lettering also varies from country to country or the length of the advertising slogan - most are in UPPER case. Occasionally the lettering is in italics. Unless specified, the lettering is raised and there is a solid raised rim.
I have tried to indicate where the thimbles were made but this is the most difficult information to find: even more so, the manufacturer. With excellent new reference texts being published in France (Michel Painsonneau), this should be remedied with time. Many of the British brass advertising thimbles were made by Charles Iles of Birmingham. Their factory closed in 1990. Most of their thimbles have a striated or milled patterning behind the lettering. Do you know any of the other makers of advertising brass thimbles? Were all the rimless ones made by the same manufacturer?
It is rare to find a size number on brass advertising thimbles. When there is a size number, it was made later than the non-sized thimbles ie 1900 onwards.
Appropriately for thimble collectors, a large number of advertisements are for sewing threads or sewing machines. I wonder how they were distributed? Were they free as giveaways or did one have to collect coupons? To me there is nothing lovelier for my collection than a patina'd brass advertising thimble.
I have started to include other metal advertising thimbles that are neither brass or aluminium, including steel advertising thimbles - they are very rare!! It is also difficult to know what the makeup of brass or brass-plated thimbles is. John von Hoelle defines brass as "a generic term for a group of alloys made of copper and zinc. The more zinc, the yellower the color; the more copper, the redder". Tombac is a type of brass and they are included in this survey - they are Austrian-made by Settmacher Bros of Vienna. This factory closed in 2005.
Occasionally there are brass advertising thimbles which form the top or lid of sewing kits. I have only included these when the thimble additionally has the advertisement lettered on the thimble. See the example for 'Use Hudson's Soap'. I have consulted Sandy Woodward's authoritative work 'Pocket sewing kits' and there are very few examples where this occurs.
I have tried to follow the lettering ie upper or lower case. Apologies for ignoring umlauts, and French diphthongs and accents=I have only included them when I know that they appear on the thimble!
The translation from Arabic advertisements causes more problems tho and the translations are only approximate! Please help if you have more knowledge!!
Always check in more than one place in the alphabetical listing below, as for many of the French advertisements is is often difficult to know where the advertisement begins and ends eg "Lave tout Persil" or "Persil lave tout". If you have found the original advertisement - please share!!
I have now tried to use the first word after the *, to help me with the order of the words. This is then the first word of the advertisement - sometimes the asterisk is just a large dot.
For Silver advertising thimbles, see Silver Advertising Thimbles
The thimbles are arranged alphabetically by the first letter of the advertising slogan, including "The ..." , "Use ..." which are listed in the T or U sections. When there are initials at the start, I have placed them at the beginning of each section eg C.W.S. is placed at the beginning of the C section.
Click on the following link to "Learn more about..."
This listing of Brass Advertising thimbles does not purport to be complete or accurate in all aspects
Rather it invites comment and contribution to add to our knowledge of these late 19th to early 20th century collectable thimbles
My thanks to the other contributors
Christina Bertrand Brass thimbles (TCI). 1986
Frederique Crestin-Billet La folie des des a coudre. 2003
Frederique Crestin-Billet Ouvrages de dames: mercerie, broderie. Catalogue 2005
Franz Groiss Thimble faktory in Vienna. 1990
Edwin Holmes History of thimbles. 1985
Adrienne de Smet De Vingerhoed in het kunstambacht. 1992
Norma Spicer Equity Shoes The Thimble Society winter 2009. p5
Kay Sullivan Needlework tools and accessories: a Dutch tradition. 2004
The Thimble Society [of London] catalogues
Sandy Woodyard Pocket sewing kits. 2006
Christina Bertrand | Sue Caesar | Ros Forster | Elaine Graveston | Brian Hall of Weavers' Triangle Trust | William Isbister | Ann Jones | Ray Nimmo | Ro Olbricht | Elaine Rogers Wolf-Dieter Scholz | Norma Shattock | Willy Swart | Sue Wilson
© Sue Gowan
DO YOU KNOW ANY MORE DETAILS ABOUT BRASS ADVERTISING THIMBLES THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE WITH OTHER COLLECTORS?
YOU MAY KNOW OF MISSING BRANDS or HAVE BETTER PHOTOS AND HAVE FURTHER INFORMATION ON THE NON-ENGLISH SLOGANS.
I AM VERY HAPPY TO HEAR IF SOME OF THE THIMBLES FEATURED HERE [marked **] SHOULD BE REMOVED IF THEY DON'T FIT THE CRITERIA
(not made of brass)
With advertising thimbles it is preferable to have the entire slogan showing, so as many views as you can show will be greatly received - thank you!
EMAIL firstname.lastname@example.org TO SHARE YOUR KNOWLEDGE.