learn more about spode thimbles

This listing of Spode 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.




Belford, Roz The Spode story Collector Circle Gazette, vol.6, no.4, spring 1982. p.5-7.

The Thimble Society of London, no. 1, winter 1981 , p.6




Marta Valencia Betran | Sue Christensen | Val de Vries | Betty Gerrits | Elaine Graveston | Linda Heggs | Margaret Hickling | Sue Hood | Mary Jasso | Doreen Lilley

Rosie Mladenovic | Pat Morris | Joyce Nixon-Smith | David Pantland | Wanda Ralston | Kellie Schultz | Sharon Underwood | Hans-Ulrich Vogel | Joanna Waciorski | Rosalie Webb  Mave Wiskin | Jenny Yuhas








© Sue Gowan

March 2004








EMAIL thimbleselect@bigpond.com TO SHARE YOUR KNOWLEDGE.



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. Spode became part of Royal Worcester in 1986, but still produced thimbles with the Spode backstamp. Sadly, production of Spode thimbles was discontinued in 1993.


The thimbles have a recognisable shape which only varies when there is a vertical ridging of the body. There are only three of these ridged examples in their range.


Most of the apexes have a self-patterned floral design, with a slight knob at the centre; this apex is gilded on most of their thimbles, which makes Spode thimbles quite distinctive. Some commemorative Spode thimbles have apex colours matching the rest of the thimble, enriching the thimble to signify a special occasion. Some apexes tho are totally smooth.


Many of Spode's thimbles have patterns from their wider range, like their dinner services. Maroon/magenta and blue are two traditional colours. Magenta is combined with gold and often with green for their commemorative thimbles. Some thimbles are identical except for a handpainted gold rim or the gilded apex. I have never encountered handpainted Spode thimbles - all their patterns are high quality transfers/decals. You will notice that when the design is repeated on the verso of the thimbles that the design is slightly different. So when comparing your thimbles with the photos below, make sure you are looking at the matching side.


I have included the three different version of the Buttercups thimbles - same design but differing backstamps or without the gold apex :

thanks to Hans.


It is interesting to note that Spode undertook special thimble commissions. These wouldn't have been big commercial runs and of the English quality china thimble makers, Spode led the way on undertaking small commissions.


It's a real delight to find just how many commemorative thimbles have emerged, mainly from the early 1980s, since I created this topic. The commemorative thimbles commissioned for the Victorian Embroiderers' Guild of Victoria 21st anniversary was a small run of 200 thimbles.


Because the Spode thimble production was relatively limited, I have arranged their output alphabetically by subject. The subject chosen is the predominant theme on the thimble. Spode didn't often name their thimble patterns, so the naming used here is quite arbitrary but I have used those names first used by the Thimble Society of London in 1981, when the thimbles would have been readily available.


In under 15 years of thimble production, Spode have left us a legacy of highly collectable thimbles which would make a wonderful niche collection.


Dates have been included where possible.

Why in 2018 are we still discovering previously unrecorded Spode thimbles?



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