learn more about SylvaC thimbles
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].
In another catalogue description, the makers are listed as Shaw and Copestake, Ltd in Longton, Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire, England. I had always wondered about the way SylvaC was written and once I knew the name of the company, it became clear: using the initial of each name at the start and end of the name!
The Sylvan Works factory was founded in 1894 by William Shaw and William Copestake and given the name of Shaw & Copestake. Copestake left that same year and Richard Hull joined in his place, but the Copestake name remained throughout. As the name Sylvan Works (the factory name) was already in use, Hull changed the trade name to SylvaC in 1935. The factory continued until voluntary liquidation in May 1982. Their main production line was ceramic novelty animals, with a large cross-section of designs; decorative and table ware was also produced. As thimble collecting gained popularity towards the end of the 1970s and into the 1980s, SylvaC introduced thimbles from October 1979, toward the end of their production life. They are no longer being produced as SylvaC ceased to trade in 1982.
I have added the dates as given by Susan Verbeek and the height of the thimbles. I have included the company identifying model numbers for each thimble, but these numbers are not on the thimbles.
The thimbles are shaped, chunky and made of a sturdy earthenware pottery. As shaped thimbles, they complement the Francesca range of shaped head thimbles. SylvaC thimbles are handpainted. The buildings thimbles [my terms] seem to have been made in greater numbers than the animals ones; the others are even rarer. The buildings thimbles all have a 'brick' or stone pattern. The thimble backstamp is 'SylvaC Handcrafted in England'. Being handpainted, there is the facility to change the colours of some of the designs and a rare colour change is for the pig thimble - a black pig instead of the pink-white one is one variety! Have you seen the very rare blue Leaning Tower? It does exist!
SylvaC thimbles are presented in oversize sturdy painted cardboard thimble boxes. The thimble boxes match the theme of the thimble and today these are as collectable as the thimbles themselves. Tho the thimbles do not have Shaw and Copestake as part of the maker's mark, it is included on the inside of the boxes. There is a verse and all the identifying marks are present in the inside of the boxes. Further confusion could arise with the name of Schmid lettered inside these boxes!
I have not heard of any other SylvaC thimble designs than these eleven listed here. I have never seen a picture of the SylvaC rose, daffodil and heart thimbles - have you?
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This listing of SylvaC 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 collectable thimbles and boxes.
My thanks to the contributors.
AStella Ashbrook. Collecting SylvaC Pottery. 2000
Susan Jean Verbeek. The SylvaC Companion. 1991
Susan Jean Verbeek. The SylvaC Story. 2nd rev ed, 1995
Sue Christensen | Pat Morris | Cath Spongberg | Mave Wiskin
© Sue Gowan
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DO YOU HAVE ANY OF THE THIMBLES OR BOXES NOT PHOTOGRAPHED?
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