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Australian handpainted thimbles
October 2021 - last updated 1 February 2023
This topic will broaden out from traditional handpainted china – by adding handpainted wood – and exchanging a paintbrush for a stylus or a poker or pyrography tool, all handpainted thimbles are included together, no matter what the artist has used to hand decorate the thimbles, nor the medium on which the artwork is created: wood china, papier-mâché, ivory etc.
Australia's Elfin thimbles
April 2016 - last updated 1 March 2022
Although the Elfin silver thimbles are quite common in Australia, information on the Elfin is scarce. There are no maker’s marks and no accompanying thimble boxes to identify the thimbles as Australian, but they are still likely to be Australian made thimbles. An exhaustive search of the two periodicals for the manufacturing jewellery trade from 1910 to 1970 has turned up no evidence of the manufacturer of the Elfin thimble. In von Hoelle (1986) the Elfin is incorrectly ascribed to Price & Jardine of Sydney who only made Nifty thimbles.
Australian modern sterling silver thimble makers
July 2022 - last updated 2 December 2022
Thimbles of Australia was published in July 1998. 24 years later, this is the update that has been long in coming. It gives me an opportunity to correct unintentional errors that occurred in the original text
There have not been as many new thimbles as I anticipated or hoped for, after publication. Those that were, are integrated here into the original listing of modern Australian sterling silver thimbles, including any modern gold Australian-made thimbles.
February 2010 - last updated 30 March 2022
Anyone who has handled Belleek Pottery in any shape or form, will be intrigued by its translucency and its distinctive cream colour, with the coloured decoration in relief. This translucent china is known as Parian ware, which is a fine white porcelain.
Bing & Grondahl porcelain thimbles
February 2010 - last updated 4 March 2022
The most well-known thimbles from this Danish porcelain manufacturer, the second oldest in Denmark, are the blue Christmas or Annual thimbles series, issued from 1978-1988. These were inspired by their Christmas plates, which were produced in 1895 and are still in production today, and their Christmas bells. The year lettered is in gold and portray fir branches or other seasonal trees and flowers which completes each thimble design. These were the first thimbles produced [see exception below] by Bing & Grondahl, though B&G have been in production of porcelain items since 1853.
May 2021 - last updated 22 September 2022
It is time to return to Cornwall – the British county that produces the finest china clay on earth. This means that pottery is a major Cornish industry. This includes the Boscastle Pottery in Boscastle, which was established over fifty years ago in either 1962 (sign at the pottery) or 1967 (according to the Digital Museum of Cornish Ceramics).
There is a secondary name of Camelot Pottery.
Brass advertising thimbles
January 2009 - last updated 22 January 2023
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 for American brands and adverts.
British royalty on thimbles
October 2006-December 2020 - last updated 1 February 2023
I wasn't a thimble collector when the first thimbles appeared for the most important commemorative event in the modern era of thimble making. I am talking about Queen Elizabeth II's Silver Jubilee in 1977. The exquisitely-made sterling silver thimbles by James Swann & Son must surely be one of the most well-known modern thimbles and shortly after I became a thimble collector in 1984, one joined my collection. It is still the only silver royal commemorative I own. The next huge occasion for commemorative thimbles in the United Kingdom was the marriage of Prince Charles to Lady Diana Spencer in 1981 and I eagerly sought one of these thimbles for my collection in 1984.
British sterling silver placename thimbles
April 2005 - last updated 26 January 2023
What do British seaside holiday resorts have to do with thimbles? There are many British silver thimbles made in the late 1920s by Henry Griffith & Sons, with names of placenames or towns which include seaside resorts, that have now become collectable in their own right. The placename is lettered in upper case in relief around the band of the thimble. Occasionally the name is lettered over vertical striations. I have noticed that some placenames are enclosed within inverted commas or quote marks eg "Stratford-on-Avon". 'Rhyl' has an asterisk at either end - others may have this as well. Only 'Stratford-on-Avon' has the lettering in smaller print than the standard.
Canadian leather thimbles
April 2014 - last updated 23 August 2022
I first came across leather thimbles for my own thimble collection in Jean Shoup’s Thimbles Only spring 1987 catalogue from California. In the only advertisement I have seen, this mail-order business had a varied selection of eight different designs of these thimbles for sale – they were priced at US$8 each. I have now seen these thimbles for sale by Gimbel & Sons, of Maine in 1986-. The Thimble Guild offered four garden flowers thimbles for sale in July 1995.
Carol Edwards of Coll Pottery and Horizon China thimbles
September 2022 - last updated 9 January 2023
Staying with Scottish thimbles in this contemplative month of September 2022, I would like to introduce these two thimble makers: both from the Isle of Lewis in the outer Hebrides. By serendipity my paternal grandfather was born on Lewis in the 1860s, so there is double interest for me: thimbles and the Hebrides.
Their output is smaller than that of the other Scottish thimble makers.
Charles Horner Ltd sterling silver thimbles made with other sponsor’s marks
April 2020 - last updated 20 December 2022
Horner took out a patent (No. 8954 of 1884) for his steel-lined thimbles and they were lettered PAT. (being the abbreviation for Patent) with a size number alongside. This enabled him to provide the beauty of sterling silver - with the strength of steel which was sandwiched between two layers of silver. In some of his early advertising Horner uses the term “armour plating” to describe these thimbles. I have never been able to establish when the term Dorcas was first used for these thimbles. In 1905 they took out another patent, No. 5115, which was their Improvements design. This was also to prevent other manufacturers copying their new way of creating these thimbles for a further period. To distinguish his designs from his competitors, Horner registered his thimble designs (RD) and even named them. This would give Horner the jump he needed to stay ahead of his competition. Even that early, he was superb at marketing for his share of the market.
Charles Horner's early Dorcas PAT. thimbles
July 2020 - last updated 20 December 2022
When I attended my first thimble meeting as a very new collector in Johannesburg in 1985, there was so much to learn. The excitement felt when I first heard the name Dorcas as something very desirable, took me home to check my small holding of thimbles. No Dorcas! Little did I know that lurking there was an example of an early Dorcas thimble. I learnt that they are simply lettered PAT. It is still a common error that new collectors and eBay sellers make – not recognising these thimbles as the forerunner of the Horner-named DORCAS thimbles. The main reason for this is that the early thimbles by Horner, did not have his maker’s mark of CH. This mark only appeared on his thimbles marked DORCAS.
Charles Iles' The ... thimbles and boxes
February 2010 - last updated 27 September 2022
I have been interested in Charles Iles of Birmingham’s base metal thimbles and none more so, than the named ones that include the initial word "The". I can't think of any other thimble maker who named a selection of his thimbles in this manner. All, except one or two of these thimbles, are lettered in "running writing" - ie. lower case italics.
Charles May's sterling silver and gold thimbles
June 2003 - last updated 8 October 2022
Charles May was not one of the most prolific Victorian silver thimble makers; Charles Horner of Halifax and the Birmingham silver thimble makers (Henry Griffith, James Fenton and James Swann) were much bigger producers. Because of this Charles May thimbles make a nice niche collection. He was different from most of the English Victorian thimble silversmiths: in that, he didn't work in Birmingham. May was London-based and he registered his maker's mark at the London assay office. The firm had two primary places of manufacture in London: Shoreditch, and later in Hackney. Gold and silver thimble making was their primary manufacture.
June 2003 - last updated 12 January 2023
I used to have a thimble stall at a series of collectables fairs where one of the prerequisites was to produce a display. The fairs were themed and one of my most popular displays featured Christmas thimbles. It was fairly simple, using a small Christmas tree as the backdrop and displaying the colourful thimbles that usually depict Christmas. From that display seeds were sown as to how easy it was to have a collection within a collection. Thimble collecting with a theme is really popular. One of the most collectable is the annual Christmas thimble.
November 2004 - last updated 29 June 2022
I have always been attracted to good quality English china and Coalport bone china thimbles are no exception. Like Caverswall thimbles, they have a very identifiable shape. Coalport thimbles have domed apexes and rarely have gold-painted rims. The rim is flared and the china is slightly chunky, not being fine bone china. I am sure you too will recognise a Coalport thimble by its shape once you have looked at this page! Coalport China was founded in 1795 by John Rose and Edward Blakeway, tho the 1750 date appears as part of their backstamp. The Coalport China Museum in Ironbridge is the site of the Coalport Pottery at Colebrookdale, Shropshire.
Cornish Enamels thimbles
February 2021 - last updated 3 February 2023
It is the turn of this recent (well, nearly 20 years ago) group of enamellers, Cornish Enamels and their thimbles. Based in Helston in Cornwall, they produced thimbles, beautifully handcrafted and packaged for the limited period of 1995 to 1997.
The skill of hand enamelling and then hand decorating the thimbles is from Georgian times. Combining these age old techniques with modern production methods, “the company is big enough to cope, yet small enough to care and guarantee excellence.”
Crummles enamelled thimbles and other needlework tools
February 2010 - last updated 9 December 2022
English enamel thimbles - mainly over copper or brass - seem to be the 20th century’s antiques of the future. Crummles - who were based in Poole in Dorset - has been incorporated into Staffordshire Enamels, in Lye, tho they still use the Crummles backstamp. They are known mostly for their enamelled boxes. They also produced needlecases and pincushions in matching designs. The owner, John Aris, founded Crummles & Co in 1974 and he chose the name of Crummles, after Vincent Crummles, a character in Charles Dickens’ novel Nicholas Nickleby.
Dorcas thimble boxes
September 2004 - last updated 27 September 2022
In 2000 the members of the Needlework Tool Collectors Society of Australia (NTCSA) made their Dorcas thimble boxes available for recording. Lee Bateman and Sue Gowan undertook this to coincide with Lee's presentation on Dorcas thimbles. It is only with a good quantity of items for comparison, that any research becomes possible. Copies of the photographs were placed in the library of the NTCSA and a second set given to the Dorset Thimble Society. Originally the boxes were photographed against a ruler, but this has not proved satisfactory in showing the actual measurements of the boxes.
April 2003 - last updated 25 May 2022
There is a growing trend to have collections within thimble collections and a small, specialised themed area is Easter thimbles. For thimbles to fit within this category they should be dated. This then qualifies them both as commemorative as well as Easter thimbles. The Thimble Guild of Biggar in Scotland has featured Easter thimbles in their catalogues over the years. These seem to be undated or only produced for one year. If the thimbles are not branded, it is difficult to track the makers after the event.
Felix Morel's brass thimbles
March 2021 - last updated 30 November 2022
I always felt that the output of thimbles by Felix Morel was too big a project to tackle as a topic. Once I began tho, this topic just flowed. I became fascinated by the scope and range of his thimbles. How he developed his prodigiously creative talent over a period between June 1987 and February 2002 took me on a marvellous journey. How can I be so precise? That was the period which was covered in detail by The Thimble Guild where Morel became more than a valuable supplier – they saw him as their friend from Bath until his retirement.
Francesca and other character head thimbles
September 2002-June 2020 - last updated 30 December 2022
There has been an increase in interest in collecting thimbles where the shape is predominant. Most of these thimbles are not being produced nowadays, so it is very difficult to obtain a complete listing. This is the list to date, but I know it is possibly not complete. It only covers thimbles that are made from china and porcelain, so though there are pewter thimbles in many shapes, they are outside the scope of this study. For completeness sake, I have included examples of all the head-shape thimbles known to me and these do not cover all figurals. These have come from various catalogues of the time, which is always a good source, or from items that I have had for sale over the years. I presume Francesca pioneered this trend in thimbles?
March 2003 - last updated 3 February 2023
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 13 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.
George Goodman (GG) and Gomms (G'S) sterling silver thimbles
August 202210 - last updated 30 August 2022
Ever since I began collecting thimbles in 1984, I have been fascinated by the maker’s marks found with the assay marks on British sterling silver thimbles. Thimbles by these two men who both worked in Birmingham, tho Gomms thimbles appeared in the late 1920s, Goodman from the mid-1880s have a link in common: both have thimbles still around 100 years ago with their marks on them.
George Unite sterling silver thimbles and needlework tools
February 2010 - last updated 25 August 2022
When I completed my topics on Samuel Foskett and Charles May, I thought I'd covered the last of my minor Victorian English thimble silversmiths topics. I don't have a George Unite thimble in my own collection, so I guess he wasn't really on my radar? George Unite (pronounced without a strong "e" at the end) is one of the earliest "modern" Victorian thimble makers. His maker’s marks were registered in 1832 at the Birmingham Assay Office and GU ceased all silver production in 1928, when the firm's name was George Unite and Sons.
Georg Jensen sterling silver thimbles
February 2010 - last updated 28 February 2022
Georg Jensen [1866-1935] began his world-famous creations as a silversmith in 1904 in Copenhagen, Denmark. These thimbles illustrated were made by Georg Jensen designers after that date, who continue as silversmiths today. Some were available for purchase in the 1990s in Australia from Georg Jensen stores. Most of Jensen thimbles have a backed stone apex in a variety of stones. These vary from green stones, to brown or red or amethyst. Most have a band of indentations directly below the stone at the apex rim.
Gerald Delaney's handpainted china thimbles
May 2020 - last updated 2 April 2022
Gerald E Delaney was born in England in 1933. He studied art at the Worcester Victoria Institute. He served as an apprentice for seven years with Royal Worcester (1948-1954) and returned between 1971 and 1973 or 1974 (sources differ). He worked for Coalport in the intervening period. He specialised in fruit designs. Search out images of his exquisitely painted fruit on plates, urns, vases, fruit bowls etc – both with Royal Worcester and Coalport backstamps. Post-Worcester, he also painted a range with his own ‘GD England’ mark. All pieces were hand signed “G Delaney”. They were undated.
Glass and crystal thimble makers
June 2020 - last updated 23 October 2022
This isn’t going to be a technical treatise. We don’t need to understand the difference between glass and crystal, as it doesn’t affect who made the thimbles. I do want to highlight tho, the huge role that Ullmannglass has played in keeping the interest in glass thimble afloat, since they began to produce glass thimble in 1973.
Graham Payne thimbles
May 2020 - last updated 1 February 2023
Graham Payne was a freehand handpainter in miniature on thimbles - so talented, which is borne out by the fact that he painted both china and enamel thimbles. The earliest thimbles I can find are dated 1981. Payne who was based in Grimley, Worcester, used several different Payne backstamps and a date is mostly incorporated alongside. Note the date alongside each photo to give a timeline. Most have the “e” in Payne joined by an underscore which includes the date
(TCC) Hallmarked thimbles of the World's Great Porcelain Houses
July 2005 - last updated 4 December 2021
After the success of the 1980 Franklin Mint Porcelain Houses of the World set of thimbles Thimbles of the World's Greatest Porcelain Houses, this set of 50 thimbles, entitled The Hallmarked Thimbles of the World's Great Porcelain Houses was commissioned by the Thimble Collectors Club in 1985. The striking difference between this set and the earlier one, is that the thimble design is largely made up of the enlarged backstamp, registered mark or hallmark of the porcelain house being portrayed. Obviously there are a few thimble houses that are duplicated from the first set, but this collection is more representative of the large range of firms making thimbles in the mid-1980s - a decade later most of them no longer produced thimbles or even existed. This list also reflects many of the thimble houses that formed part of the Thimble Collectors Club, who issued monthly thimbles to the members of their Club. As well as issuing monthly thimbles, the TCC also offered special sets for sale. This Hallmarked set is one of many offered.
February 2010 - last updated 8 December 2022
Over the years, Harrods of Kensington London, have commissioned thimbles - for marketing or advertising purposes. They form a small, neat thematic collection. Most of these thimbles were produced for Harrods in the 1980s. Which other Department store anywhere in the word, has had as many commissioned?
Hazrah handpainted bronze thimbles from Mauritius
July 2021 - last updated 28 April 2022
Earlier this month, whilst browsing thru the set of Friedy Kamp’s Vingerhoed nieuws from the Netherlands, I came across brightly coloured thimbles that I had never seen before. They were described as handcrafted and handpainted in bronze – from Mauritius. They were obviously modern (appearing in the club catalogues between 2006-2009-1). I noticed that two names were used in the thimble descriptions. They were Hazrah and Saffina [sic]. The hunt for more information was on!
Highland China thimbles
September 2022 - last updated 23 September 2022
In September 2022 our attention has been quietly concentrated on Scotland. Some of my favourite thimbles come from Scotland – the land of my paternal grandfather.
The Highland China thimble included in the Thimble Collectors Club thimbles has the accompanying certificate. This establishes that Highland China thimbles come from Kingussie, on the River Spey in the Scottish Highlands. Hence the name chosen for their thimbles.
Innes Mitchell pyrographed wooden thimbles
June 2021 - last updated 9 December 2022
Looking back over the plus thirty years since I began collecting thimbles, I realised what a major part The Thimble Collectors Guild/Scotland Direct/The Thimble Guild played in bringing their local thimble makers to the awareness of the collectables-thimbles-market worldwide - especially in the early to mid-1980s. The Guild was founded in January 1983 by Arthur Bell in Lanark, and then moved to Biggar also in Scotland. The Guild exposed us to thimble makers that we would not have encountered. Through their monthly mail order catalogues, one-maker thimble Scottish craftsmen were promoted.
Interesting lettering and symbols on thimbles
April 2015 - last updated 12 December 2022
Are you fascinated by various lettering – not the hallmarks nor the maker’s marks – but something more specific - on your thimbles? Sometimes it is lettering of a commemorative or an historic event, others just inscribed with some unusual words or symbols. None of the following thimbles fall into any previous Learn More About…Thimbles topics: not advertisements, slogans, scenic, placenames, patents, brands etc. Some of the lettering is on an applied badge. I have now added a small section on the cryptic messages thimbles
HF thimble makers: sterling silver thimbles made by Henry Foskett -
Henry Fidkin - Henry Fowler
June 2022 - last updated 23 October 2022
When I began collecting thimbles in 1984 – there were only thimble reference books as a resource for all thimble queries. We joined as many clubs and societies to access their newsletters or magazines, to keep abreast of the latest thimble information. Since the advent of all things electronic, current thimble collectors have infinite resources to find any thimble information they require. This topic would have been more useful in the 1980s when thimble collectors confused the three British sterling silver thimble makers with the identical maker’s HF initials – almost using the names interchangeably. Errors still creep in through ignorance when offering any of these HF thimbles for second hand sale.
Horner and hearts
January 2017 - last updated 30 August 2022
I am not suggesting that Charles Horner thimbles make your heart beat any faster, though I know if any one of the thimbles featured here ended up in my own collection, my heart would beat so much faster! CH-hallmarked sterling silver thimbles have a deep attraction for me, especially when the patterning is very different from his usual run-of-the mill thimbles. Some of these are high-end thimbles all featuring hearts.
Irish Dresden thimbles
May 2017 - last updated 7 October 2022
Irish Dresden began in Dresden, East Germany. This was in 1895 when Anton Mueller, of Volkstedt, began making ornate porcelain figurines with fine lace. The factory name was Muller Volkstedt, which gives us the Irish Dresden blue backstamp of “MV” with a crown (this is often confused with the initials looking like “MZ”) on their figurines. Their figurines were decorated with cotton tulle or lace net, which was first soaked in a liquid porcelain. When the figurines were fired in the kiln, the porcelain stiffened the filigree of the tulle and the original tulle burnt away. Muller died in 1937. The factory was destroyed by bombing during World War II, whilst owned by Anton’s son Hermann. Hermann died during the war. The original moulds were discovered in the ruins of the factory basement by his descendants, who rebuilt the factory.
Jasper's of Yorkshire handpainted thimbles
March 2021 - last updated 30 December 2022
It was the Thimble Society of London who first brought these thimbles to my attention. They didn’t deal in new modern thimbles, so there had to be something that had caught the eye of Bridget McConnel. Then a big surprise – I noticed recently that Jasper’s of Yorkshire thimbles appeared for sale by The Thimble Guild. That was certainly a first: two British thimble businesses competing at the same time. Thimbles must have been painted exclusively for each, as there was no duplication between the two sources, for collectors. They arrived unheralded at TSL in their spring 1993 catalogue with no name attributed to the thimbles - TTG in March 1994. It was only at a later date that TSL splurged on descriptions.
Jenny Blair Designs' thimbles
December 2020 - last updated 20 December 2022
Jenny had studied designs in silver in Birmingham for three years. That was where she learnt from a silversmith and combined with her natural talent, she went on to experiment with fusing thru electrolysis of metal on all kinds of material. For her graduation project she presented two pieces of handblown glass with an electrolysis deposited decoration. Blair opened her own studio. It wasn’t long after this that thimble collectors persuaded Jenny to experiment with thimbles. The hand/mouth blown glass thimble is formed. Ground silver is suspended in lacquer and a design is handpainted and electroformed with nickel. After resting for 12-15 hours, the thimble is hand filed and polished. Finally a thick coat of PURE silver is applied over the pattern and the result is pure elegance to last a lifetime.
Kay Thetford Kendall sterling silver thimbles
February 2010 - last updated 17 October 2022
This English silversmith designed and made her silver thimbles during the early 1980s, with a few new designs in the 1990s. The Thimble Society of London regularly stocked her thimbles - with moulded small animals around the thimbles and rounded apexes - from 1983 onwards. In 1998, the Society obtained the last examples of Kay's collectable thimbles for sale, as Kay had by then moved on to sculpting life-size figures.
Marks on British sterling silver and gold thimbles
May 2020 - last updated 13 December 2022
Compulsory hallmarking of British silver thimbles came into effect in 1884 when all silver over a certain weight had to be assayed to test for the purity of the silver used. Before this time is was optional to mark them, as thimbles weighed less than the required amount for assaying. Thimbles have to be 925 of 1000 parts silver (i.e. .925) to have an assay mark applied. The Lion passant is the hallmark symbol used to indicate this. In Dublin the Lion passant is replaced by Hibernia. When the silver is purer than sterling silver i.e. 950 of 1000 parts silver, the Britannia mark is used.
Marks on plastic thimbles
December 2022 - last updated 3 February 2023
Plastic thimbles have been with us since the 1890s. They are lightweight, almost indestructible and cheap in comparison to their metal counterparts. It is difficult to sew enough to throw a plastic thimble out of shape – making it the ideal and most practical of sewing tools. They come in every size, shape and colour. Buy one to use to today.
This topic covers lettering that somewhat identifies the thimble: this may be where the thimble is made, maker's initials or an actual brand name. It covers all lettering, both around the outer rim or up in the apex.
Mason's ironstone china thimbles
February 2010 - last updated 26 February 2022
Mason's history of ironstone production goes back a long way, to 1813 when Charles James Mason took out his patent. Interesting the Mason’s thimbles backstamp includes the word ‘Patent’ ie Patent Ironstone, in their backstamp. For most of the nineteenth century Mason's dinnerware was highly prized in their monochrome designs. They were based in Staffordshire, England. As far as I can find out, Johnson Bros were the only other manufacturers producing ironstone thimbles.
Metal egg-shaped thimble holders and others
April 2018 - last updated 12 September 2022
I have done a thorough search for information in the printed needlework tools literature for any shred of information on these gorgeous little metal thimble holders. There is virtually no information, save from a few photos in black and white. No mention of where or by whom they were produced. Holmes has the most detailed information but there are no accompanying photos.
“Typical of the late Victorian period is a range of small thimble cases made of metal sheeting in the shape of an egg or rectangular box fitted with a small metal chain. The sheeting, which was impressed with a light design, was molded to shape and held within a brass framework. The inside fittings designed to hold the thimble were made of cardboard and other similar materials in bright colours. These cases, which were available as cheap souvenirs, were made to hold a brass thimble and were sold, it is believed, from 1890 to 1910.”
Michael I Dorman-Brailsford sterling silver thimbles
February 2010 - last updated 8 October 2022
You may be familiar with the dome-shaped thimbles that appeared from this English silversmith, from Oxford? If so, you may not know that there are four designs with the same shape? They were all hallmarked by the London Assay Office, between 1981 and 1984. Michael Ivor Dormon-Brailsford is an inventor who created a series entitled Architectural Heritage thimbles, tho only three are architecturally shaped.
January 2012 - last updated 25 August 2021
Thomas Minton founded the porcelain house of Minton in 1793 in Stoke-on-Trent, the heart of the British potteries.
The first known Minton thimble was issued as part of The Hallmarked Thimbles of the World's Great Porcelain Houses set of 50 thimbles in 1985 [older shape].
Modern British enamelled thimbles
March 2022- last updated 20 December 2022
It’s time to return to enamelled thimbles, having covered specific enamel thimble handpainters in earlier topics. I feel that there has been so many mis-attributed makers of modern British enamelled thimbles in this group. This occurs when these thimbles are sold on the second-hand market. I hope I can untangle this without making things more muddied.
Most of the thimble enamellers listed below did not handpaint their thimbles. That had been the norm since enamelled Objets d’Art were crafted between 1740-1830. Once the British industrial revolution changed lives forever in 1830s, enamelled treasures disappeared as a craft.
Modern British handpainted china thimbles
February 2022 - last updated 12 January 2023
I have created a few topics before on specific modern British painters of china thimbles: - Graham Payne, Gerald Delaney and Jasper’s of Yorkshire (Margaret Palmer)
I would like to share my archives of photos of other modern British painters of thimbles. Many of these painters came to my attention thru the thimble catalogues of the 1990s. See all 24 painter's work on thimbles
Modern British sterling silver thimble makers 1955-2022
March 2016 - last updated 12 January 2023
I think it’s time to showcase the skills of the modern British silversmith who has produced thimbles over the last sixty years. With a very small output, by comparison with the silversmiths of yesteryear, these thimbles are largely handmade or machined in non-factory settings. From 1976, all assay marks must be re-registered every ten years. I wonder how many of the following silversmiths have needed to do this? You won’t find any Chester assay marks in this section as the Chester Assay Office closed in 1961.
There is now a listing here of Modern British silver thimble makers still to be identified
May 2003 - last updated 25 August 2022
Mother's Day is celebrated around the world on the second Sunday in May. The exception to this is the United Kingdom, who celebrates Mothering Sunday on the third Sunday in March. Is it because of the importance of Mothering Sunday in the UK that the branded china thimbles are all British-made? Some thimbles are lettered "To Mother" with the date; others just have "Mother" plus the date. There are not many thimbles made with 'Mother' on them. Caverswall, with their dated series, has the biggest selection that runs parallel with its Easter and Christmas series.
Peter Swingler's handpainted thimbles
May 2020 - last updated 14 January 2023
Swingler’s thimbles are very different from those of Crummles and Payne. Theirs are made of enamelling on brass and there were several enamelling handpainters involved in the creation of their thimble ranges. Swingler was an enameller and a freehand painter. He solely painted his enamelled miniatures over sterling silver thimbles. Peter’s miniature painting is so fine that it was only accomplished with the use of a magnifying glass.
Pewter thimbles makers from around the world with their marks
November 2020 - last updated 9 November 2022
When I created the topic Marks on British silver thimbles, in 2002 I never dreamt it would be the most visited section in my Learn More About … Thimbles topics. I am hoping to fill a gap that has long existed in creating a similar database for pewter marks – this time from around the world. Maybe it too can become the source for thimble marks on pewter?
Pewter thimbles began to appear for the thimble collectables market – ie thimbles not made to sew with – in the late 1970s. That and the following decade were the heyday for the makers and collectors of this medium. Many were handpainted, had figures atop (also known as toppers). Now we can look back on 100,000’s of pewter thimbles!
Philip Antrobus sterling silver thimbles
March 2013 - last updated 5 November 2022
Have you ever looked closely at the patterning on any sterling silver thimble in your collection, marked with the maker's mark of PA? They have some of the most unusual patterning you will find. The mark belongs to Philip Antrobus who operated as a silversmith from 55 Upper Tower Street in Birmingham. He registered his maker's mark with the Birmingham Assay Office in November 1863, and it was last registered with the BAO in 1891.
Poole Pottery thimbles
February 2010 - last updated 15 June 2022
Have you ever had the opportunity to visit the Poole Pottery in Poole, on the south coast of England? It was such a happy experience back in 1973 to visit and to watch the artists at this pottery with the gorgeous handpainted pottery, set right on the quay at Poole. The internet suggests there are now two potteries operating - the original in Poole and another in Staffordshire - those in these areas may know?
Once I became a thimble collector a decade later, I was determined to find a Poole thimble for my collection. The thimble output is small so it should be relatively easy for you to find their whole output?
Porsgrund porcelain thimbles
February 2014 - last updated 9 July 2022
It was only in the last month or so that I received an enquiry about these Norwegian porcelain thimbles. I knew the porcelain house only by name as I do have one of their thimbles in my collection. The enquirer asked how many dated thimbles were issued - their collection were for annual thimbles from 1978 to 1985. That amounts to eight thimbles. At that stage I hadn't even realised my own example was dated - yes, it's the 1984 thimble. That is the hunt I enjoy - are there more than these eight annual thimbles issued by this Norwegian house? I have now found another Porsgrund thimble, that doesn’t carry a date like the earlier series of eight – it is done in much bolder colours, tho still with Porsgrund’s distinctive stylised design.
Queen Victoria commemorative thimbles and needlework tools
2013 - last updated 30 October 2022
When I won a sterling silver thimble that commemorated the visit of Victoria & Albert to Scotland in Sept 1842, I knew it was time to find other thimbles from her era. which prompted me to update the chapter of Dorothy Friend's British commemorative and souvenir thimbles of 1987. Her chapter 2 is entitled 'The years 1837-1901' which covers the entire reign of Queen Victoria.
Retail jeweller's thimble cases and boxes
May 2020 - last updated 1 February 2023
Over the last 20 years I have concentrated on thimble topics that have largely focussed on the thimbles found in collections. Now it is time to focus on the small thimble boxes and cases that made their appearance in the mid-Victorian era, thru to the beginning of the 20th century and the Edwardian era – used by retail jewellers for presentation of a quality item – an early tangible form of promotion and marketing, that could hold a treasured item safely for years. It is the names of the jewellery stores and their addresses that form a link to the past and their current existence 100 years on. The thimbles were made of sterling silver and gold tho they form an incidental part of this study. At least half of the thimbles are still in their original cases. It’s lovely to realise when the thimble is still in its original box!! ..Many jewellers did go to the expense of having their cases or boxes personalised. Looking online to see if these Jewellers still operate, it seems clear to me that these were single family businesses and so didn’t continue for more than one generation
Royal Albert bone china thimbles
April 2008 - last updated 15 June 2022
There is very little available about English Royal Albert bone china and their production of thimbles. According to the accompanying leaflets for the TCC thimbles, the company was founded in 1896 by Thomas Wild, in Longton, in the English Potteries. They became part of the Royal Doulton group in 1964. The part of the name 'Albert' is named from Albert, the Prince who was to become George VI. Currently Royal Albert is part of the Wedgwood group. It was sad news indeed to read that in this first week of 2009 of the Waterford-Wedgwood group being placed into liquidation. This group includes Royal Doulton, Royal Albert and Rosenthal. Only time will tell what will happen now. So much of all these brands is already being made offshore.
Royal Copenhagen porcelain thimbles
February 2010 - last updated 28 February 2022
Royal Copenhagen thimbles do not carry the backstamp inside, as most other porcelain thimbles - they are featured on the verso of the thimble. The RC backstamp is made up of three wavy lines - these symbolise Denmark's main waterways to the Baltic - the Sound - The Great Belts - The Little Belts - and these lines are surmounted by a crown.
Royal Crown Derby thimbles
September 2005 - last updated 15 June 2022
William Duesbury founded the Derby porcelain factory back around 1750 in the town of Derby in England. In 1770 and 1776 Duesbury expanded by buying up the Chelsea and Bow factories. There were no thimbles produced by Royal Crown Derby [RCD] until the 20th century around 1983. They were taken over and owned by the Royal Doulton Group [of Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire] from 1985. The Doulton stable thru mergers included Minton, John Beswick, Caithness Glass, Royal Crown Derby and Royal Albert. From 2000 Royal Crown Derby is once again an independent company. This is the same company that took over the Stevenson and Hancock factory in 1935, which had been operational since 1848.
Royal Doulton thimbles
May 2009 - last updated 3 July 2022
I was a collector of Royal Doulton china handpainted figurines, before I began collecting thimbles of any kind. These figurines are their most recognisable and collectable item, though there isn't anything that can be made of china or stoneware that hasn't been made by Royal Doulton!! I joined the Royal Doulton International Collectors Club, based in London, in 1983 and remained a member for 15 years. Once I became a thimble collector, I scoured the pages of their quarterly magazine for any mention or article on thimbles - in vain!!
Royal Tara thimbles
September 2021 - last updated 6 October 2021
It is going to be a small topic as Royal Tara weren’t a prolific thimble producer. We can’t lose these thimbles only made in the 1980s. Royal Tara was established in 1951 by Kerry O’Sullivan in Galway, Ireland (Eire). Kerry was a gold medal winner from the College of Ceramics, Stoke on Trent. He housed the manufactory in a Georgian mansion Tara Hall that had once belonged to wealthy merchants. The mansion was converted to house the kilns for all the merchandise being produced by Royal Tara.
Royal Worcester decal thimbles
February 2007 - last updated 8 March 2022
One of the first fine bone china thimbles produced for the collectables market is one with a decal by Royal Worcester. In 1974 this Bridal thimble (I am not sure whether it was named this or it has become known by this name by thimble collectors over the last 30 years) was issued and is one of the most recognisable thimbles from RW. This 1974 date is now no longer correct, as copies were received as early as 1960, by collectors who have contacted me.
Royal Worcester handpainted thimbles
October 2002 - last updated 20 December 2022
I have always had a deep love for handpainted Royal Worcester thimbles. My best find is an unmarked 19th century handpainted bird, with the lovely translucent porcelain of early Worcester's and the taller, narrow shape of their early thimbles. This was found here in Brisbane. It was sold to me as milk or opaline glass, a term I had never heard before - it is a term used for the translucent porcelain of 19th century Royal Worcester. Another term associated with early Royal Worcester porcelain, is blush, peach bloom or a biscuit finish, describing the warm creamy ground of the porcelain. It is rare to find that the apex has been gilded - usually a sign that it is not an early Royal Worcester thimble?
Samuel Foskett sterling silver thimbles
October 2002 - last updated 7 October 2022
Henry Foskett was born in Iver, Buckinghamshire and baptised in April 1812. He was the son of Samuel and Mary Foskett. He married Eliza Ellen. He lived at 32 Great Sutton Street, Clerkenwell in London 1871 with his wife and nephew, Samuel (see below). He still lived there in 1881 and died in December 1885. Samuel Foskett was born in Limehouse, London, in 1848, the son of John Foskett [Henry's brother] and Sarah Scott. He married Elizabeth in 1871. In 1881 he lived with his family, including his three children, at 45 Essex Street, Islington. He still resided there in 1901. His eldest son, Samuel William Foskett, was a silversmith and his second son, Henry James Foskett, following in his father's footsteps, was a thimble maker.
Scottish wooden thimbles
February 2023 - last updated 1 February 2023
Fiona Danby - Leslie Lamb - Heather Mclean - Eileen Palmer - Christine Philp
I am fast running out of new thimble topics. Scotland’s thimbles are dear to my heart so this is my contribution for ensuring these wooden thimbles do not disappear from collectors’ memories.
Having compiled an earlier topic on Scotland’s Innes Mitchell’s thimbles, I am aware that rarely are these thimbles signed (for sale thru The Thimble Guild in the 1980s) – with the exception of Heather McLean.
Sterling silver advertising thimbles - including jewellers and ships
February 2006 - last updated 1 February 2023
Whilst I was researching the topics of silver British Placename thimbles and Thimbles with Slogans, I noticed a smaller grouping of silver thimbles with adverts and so my quest for information about Silver advertising thimbles began. Previously I thought that general products being advertised on thimbles were in the majority, with a few silver thimbles advertising jewellers. Exactly the opposite is true. The jewellers' thimbles are the most prolific, with 98% being for British jewellers.
March 2004 - last updated 25 June 2022
Josiah Spode founded Spode in 1776. His son, also Josiah, was responsible in 1797 for perfecting the process of adding bone ash to china clay to produce fine bone china, which is still used today as the benchmark for good china. This gives strength, whiteness and translucence to Spode china and this includes their thimbles. Spode underwent several name changes, according to von Hoelle, until William Copeland's son [Josiah's partner] took over the company in 1833 and from 1847 the name of the firm was Copeland. This name reverted to Spode in 1970 and thimbles, amongst other merchandise, were made in Stoke-on-Trent, England of fine bone china, from 1974.
Stratnoid thimbles and other tools
August 2003 - last updated 2 November 2022
The first thimble recorded in my thimble catalogue is for a thimble marked 'Stratnoid England', with the size 0-12. The name Stratnoid is pressed into the plain band, within a rectangular lozenge; England is lettered underneath, with the size markings lettered at either end. Occasional examples exist of Stratnoid thimbles, where the name is stamped directly onto the band and not within a lozenge.
Sydney Opera House thimbles
January 2014 - last updated 16 February 2022
When you think of Sydney in terms of its landmarks, does the Sydney Opera House spring to mind? With its iconic shape, designed by the Danish architect Jørn Utzon, it has become the most recognised Australian "building". From 24th March 2014 the Sydney Opera House shape will be a registered trademark. This has been taken out by the Opera House Trust and its shape will be trademarked - its logo and image are already trademarks. It will be the first building fully trademarked in Australia. It will no longer be appropriate to use the image for commercial purposes or part of a brand. According to an article in The Australian on 25 January 2014, it's "souvenir shops beware". The only outlet for souvenirs featuring the Sydney Opera House will be merchandise made for the Opera House Trust.
October 2004 - last updated 7 June 2022
The first time I saw SylvaC thimbles advertised, they were in Ruth Baum's Shopping Service in May 1981 and then in the spring 1982 issue. Ruth's mail order thimble company was based in London. I have since seen them for sale in the Spring 1978 issue of The Sewing Corner catalogue, from New York. Most of the following thimbles were offered for sale at the princely sum of #2.90 from Ruth: US$10 from New York. The nine animals' and buildings' names I have used are from Ruth's catalogue. There are no further details in the catalogue about SylvaC thimbles. I traced the three other designs thru the listing of products in Ashbrook and Verbeek's books. In 2000, Ashbrook valued SylvaC thimbles at #20-30 [US$30-50].
Thimble and needlework tool books
January 2003 - last updated 1 February 2023
I was often asked about thimble and needlework tool books: which ones to buy. Being a librarian and being passionate about books, it was easy for me. I tried to obtain a copy of each relevant title as it was published. Most of the books listed below are out of print, so you will have to look for those thru the second-hand market. Where I know the books are still in print, I have listed them as such, with an address or email link where one is known and the ISBN
Thimble Collectors Club thimbles
October-November 2003 - last updated 29 September 2022
The Thimble Collectors Club [TCC] came to my attention quite early on in my thimble collecting days - 1986. The glossy pamphlets that they issued promoted the idea of collecting "good" brands of china or porcelain from famous or often unheard of thimble china manufacturers. The added appeal was that on joining the Club one would automatically receive a new thimble every month. What a selection of high quality thimbles!! I lived in South Africa when I made my first enquiry about joining the Club, but I had no response to my application. I put this down to being where I lived. I have always enjoyed collecting Royal Doulton thimbles and once I knew that TCC had issued a thimble featuring Balloon Seller, I approached them again and was able to purchase this lovely thimble as a one-off, in October 1987.
Thimble Craft by Shirley porcelain thimbles
2013 - last updated 11 October 2022
My mail-order thimble business, Thimbleselect was ‘born’ in May 1987 and shortly afterwards I was contacted by Shirley Hewett to ask if I would be her South African thimble agent. As I knew we would be migrating to Australia later that year, I had to decline. By sheer serendipity I was visiting England shortly afterwards and was able to talk to Shirley and Martin – sadly, there was no time for a visit to Ilford in Essex to meet them in person. Martin had joined Shirley in the business, and he registered their business name of Thimble Craft. By the time I had settled in Australia, there was another thimble agent for Shirley's thimbles in Australia.
February 2003 - last updated 9 January 2023
I have done a thorough search of all my thimble books and the internet and I was surprised to find how little information there is on thimblefuls. There are two photos in one of McConnel's thimbles books, which confirm my findings that the Thimble Society of London has rarely had any of these for sale. There are no examples in the book on Settmacher in Austria, but there is record of a German advertising thimbleful, made by Gabler. Where there are brief mentions in the literature, I have included the photos. Johnson lists them under 'Novelties and Oddities'. The exception to scant information is Holmes who has an entire chapter entitled 'Just a Thimbleful', which lends credence to collecting them. Gaussen maintains that thimblefuls are collected with sewing accessories because of their thimble shape.
Thimble societies and clubs from around the world
March 2005 - last updated 29 August 2021
To me it is the single most important part of my thimble collecting life to belong to as many groups as is practicable. I know there are many collectors who like to collect in private, or who would rather spend the membership fees on buying another special treasure. At grass roots, find a local group where you meet on a regular basis: for the fellowship and sharing of new finds and information. If there is a national group in your country, support it by becoming a member. Often there is a newsletter to keep you in contact, if you cannot attend in person and many of the organisations hold monthly, annual or biennial meetings or conferences and conventions. The friendships made over the years form the backbone of my thimble collecting. Join a group near you today or write away to join a group in another country.
Thimbles with slogans
November 2005 - last update 20 December 2022
I have always been fascinated with slogans, mementoes, inscriptions, mottos or keepsake messages on thimbles, with sayings using the language of love and chivalry. It was only when I acquired my first MIZPAH thimble, that I began to look at these thimbles with lettering around the rims, more closely. Mizpah is a Hebrew blessing 'May the Lord watch between me and thee whilst we are absent one from another. (Genesis 31.v49). Go back in time, when women were closely chaperoned, to the Victorian era and picture a young man in love. How was he to plead his love? A gift of a thimble with a word or phrase was not too personal and if it was accepted, he knew he could then pay suit. So we get a glimpse of this bygone era and its manners with these unique themed thimbles. Some of these tokens of love were given when parting and there may be sad stories attached to a few of these messages.
Victorian gold and sterling silver thimbles made with girls' names
February 2010 - last updated 8 October 2021
What a delightful find this small thematic topic is. At first glance they may seem to have been engraved by a Victorian jeweller - using the old-world girls' and women's names? No - these are the way the thimbles were made by the Victorian silversmiths, with the names in high relief. Thanks to Norma Spicer and Di Pelham Burn's excellent reference book Registered designs on thimbles, we even know who made some of these thimbles.
Victorian sterling silver scenic thimbles and needlework tools
January 2008 - last updated 20 December 2022
My first English silver thimble with a wide scenic band in relief, was the one I bought for 'Windsor' and having done a bit of research, this seems to be the most popular design of this type of thimble, with many examples still in existence. Recently I was a very lucky girl when I received a thimble from a non-thimble friend [thanks Phil] - he found a treasure for me on a recent visit to South Africa. There is no lettering to identify the scene, but it shows a bridge scene on a very wide band, on a typical tall, narrow Victorian thimble. It turns out to be the Menai Bridge scene and in contrast to my first purchase, this is a rare example. I think two of these wonderful old thimbles is enough for my collection but it's been fun looking for what else was made and I hope you'll enjoy this small journey.
Wedgwood bone china thimbles
September 2006 - last updated 28 December 2021
It is four years now since I started my 'Learn More About...' topics and I have come a full circle by returning to Wedgwood thimbles - this page is not about the Jasperware Wedgwood thimbles, which I covered separately but about those made of Wedgwood bone china. Originally I listed these with the Wedgwood jasperware thimbles topic but there were no accompanying photos and it's time now to remedy that. Like the other iconic English china manufacturers such as Royal Doulton, Royal Worcester, Wedgwood has a large range of bone china decorative and serviceable ware and some of their thimbles are decorated with these patterns. These are decaled or transferware. Some of the dinner service or tableware patterns are replicated on thimbles - like Kutani crane and Osborne designs.
Wedgwood Jasperware thimbles
August 2002 - last updated 20 December 2022
Josiah Wedgwood founded Wedgwood at Burslem in 1754. Though factory records show that Wedgwood made thimbles in the late 18th century, it seems that none have survived. With the increase in popularity of thimble collecting, Wedgwood began to produce thimbles again in 1980. Wedgwood jasperware has been produced since 1774. Jasperware is matt stoneware made from Cornish clay that is coloured throughout the body and has an applied decoration or cameo of a contrasting colour. The most famous jasperware combination is a white cameo design on what has become know as 'Wedgwood blue'. The cameos are hand applied, as they have been since jasperware was first invented.
White Heron thimbles
August 2016 - last updated 18 December 2022
When I was researching Australian thimbles for publication in Thimbles of Australia back in 1997, I was intrigued to find thimbles with an Australian theme, produced by White Heron of New Zealand. I could find nothing more than one example of handpainted thimbles that may have been part of a larger set. This was one of the floral state emblems, being the kangaroo paw for Western Australia - thimbles that began a long search for further examples and more details of the maker. The design is plain and uncluttered, with a single spray of the Western Australian native flower with “WA” lettered quite palely, under the flower. The thimble backstamp has Bone China WHITE HERON New Zealand lettered inside, with two facing White herons.
Who made these named thimbles
2012 - last updated 23 February 2022
None of the following named thimbles - "AUSSIE" - Coroza Silver - INVICTA - fall into any of the above themes nor makers nor in previous topics, but they are worth recording - in the hope that someone one day will know who made them.
If and when the makers' names come to light, I will leave them in this section, as they were all made in the first half of the 20th century and the information can be shared with all questioning thimble collectors!!
(Franklin Mint's) Thimbles of the World's Greatest Porcelain Houses
January 2004 - last updated 9 February 2020
The August 1980 Franklin Mint "Thimbles of the Worlds' Porcelain Houses" set has proved to be a very popular set with collectors. Over 0 years after its release, this set is still marks the beginning of the collectable thimbles interest. It covered most of the thimble china and porcelain brands of England and Europe of the time. With the popularity of the Franklin Mint set, many of these china houses first made thimbles for this set and went on to produce thimbles for the next 10-15 years. Lladro of Spain produced their only thimble for the set and the Noritake and Lladro thimbles are the most sought after of the set. The Lladro differs markedly from the rest of the set. It is of bisqueware and the Lladro maker's mark or backstamp is incorporated within the design of two children playing. Love it or hate it?