learn more about gadget thimbles
CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: ILES'S PATENT, WITH FOUR HOLES ROUND THE SIDES AND ONE IN THE TOP
BRASS THIMBLE WITH A THREAD-CUTTER ATTACHED TO THE SIDE
A CUPRONICKEL ADJUSTABLE THIMBLE, ROSINA DURHAM PATENT, POSSIBLY 1892
ANOTHER TYPE WITH A DIFFERENT STYLE OF THREAD-CUTTER
ANOTHER BRASS THIMBLE WITH THREAD-CUTTER
AN ELABORATELY DECORATED EXAMPLE WITH A BLACKBERRY PATTERN - "VENTILATED ILES PATENT" AROUND THE RIM
A collection of gadget thimbles would form a niche within a collection. It wouldn't be a large collection, judging by the number of identical gadget thimbles repeated throughout the thimble literature, but it would be of great interest. Some sources list these as gimmick thimbles, but the usual terminology is gadget. Gosh - in the 15 years since I created this topic, the number of gadget thimbles has ballooned.
Most of the gadgets are made of cheaper materials - i.e. brass and metals - as they were meant for sewing. Where the country of origin is known, the USA predominates. It is so difficult to tell what most of these gadgets are made from, so I have grouped those together with a similar function.
A lot of the gadget thimbles are also patented, but this article is not about patented thimbles, only those that John von Hoelle describes as "A category of thimbles which have an ability to do some other feat besides protecting one's finger." It does not include tailor's thimbles, finger guards, fingernail-shaped thimbles, peeps, thimbles that have ridges to fit within sewing kits, nor quilter's thimbles in general. There are also those whose purpose is not sewing - sail maker's, ophthalmologist's, dentist's, wigmakers, potato pickers, thatcher's, for tobacco stemming, clerk's rubber etc - these too are excluded here.
There are four general groups of gadget thimbles - grippers, threaders, thread cutters and a combination of any of these functions. There is a small selection where the gadget thimble has another function. What does the term gripper mean? The gripper would aid the sewer to get the needle through thicker fabric.
Bertha Betensley's booklet makes fascinating reading, with line drawings of 52 US thimble patents
- the inventiveness has to be seen to be believed.
Click on the following link to "Learn more about..."
This listing of Gadget Thimbles does not purport to be complete or accurate in all aspects.
Rather it invites comment and contribution to add to our knowledge. My thanks to the contributors.
Elizabeth Aldridge - Thoughts on thimbles Part IX Gadget and patented thimbles (TCI) - 1985
Christina Bertrand - Brass thimbles (TCI) - 1986
Bertha Betensley - 52 thimble patents - 1980
Cecile Dreesman - Een vingerhoedje…A thimble full… - 1981
Susan Jean Gowan - Thimbles of Australia - 1998
Helmut Greif - Talks about thimbles - 1984
Edwin F Holmes - History of thimbles - 1985
Edwin F Holmes - Thimble notes and queries - Autumn 1992. p18
William Isbister - The De Long thimble TCI Bulletin, Winter 2018
Eleanor Johnson - Thimbles and thimble cases. 2nd ed (Shire) - 1999
Averil Mathis - Antique & collectible thimbles and accessories - 1986
Heidi Nakayama - Tatting shuttles of American collectors - 2002
Adrienne de Smet - De Vingerhoed in het kunstambacht - 1992
Norma Spicer - British registered design thimbles - 2003
Norma Spicer - Iles: a family of thimble makers - 2001
Helen Lester Thompson - Sewing tools & trinkets - 1997
John von Hoelle - Thimble collector's encyclopedia. 3rd ed - 1986
The Thimble Society [of London] catalogues
Sandra Woodyard - Further research on patented gadget thimbles TCI Bulletin. Summer 2012
Sandy Woodyard - Pocket sewing kits - 2006
Estelle Zalkin - Zalkin's handbook of thimbles & sewing implements - 1988
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