Thursday, 21 January 2010

Thimbles Silver Hallmarks

Did you know that before the 1880’s silver thimbles did not need to be hallmarked? No? Well, although the silver used was the correct grade to be classified as sterling, the amount used per thimble was too small making the duty payable for the hallmark more than the thimble was worth. This changed in 1884 when applying for a hallmark became mandatory. Hallmarks or any other kind of marking on a thimble helps to date it. Even the little dimples can help you tell how old it is.  

This thimble is hallmarked.

They are a bit tricky to read sometimes as they are incredibly small and sometimes are worn, especially when the thimble has been well used like this one. I inherited this one from my mother-in-law, who probably inherited it from her mother. This hallmark gives the makers mark, CH for Charles Horner; the Lion symbol, indicating that it is sterling silver, the mark for Chester Assay office and the date letter. The date letter is for 1897.

I mentioned in an earlier post that I was looking at getting a Dorcas Thimble. Well here it is.

As I mentioned Charles Horner was the chap who invented silver thimbles with an inner steel core. Now, the lack of a hallmark makes this one a bit trickier to date. However, the fact that it shows Dorcas, CH and the size of the thimble, which in this case is 10, tells me that this thimble was made between 1905 and the 1940’s.

Some thimbles make dating even easier. This one for example commemorates the wedding of Charles and Diana and not only has a hallmark but also has the date neatly stamped in full just above the base.

Bye for now


Thursday, 14 January 2010

The Name's Bond, James Bond.

Now this is something you don't see every day.  A group of James Bonds all in the same place.  I wonder what you call a group of Bonds? A gaggle? A set? A pride? What about a Hunk?  A Hunk of Bonds.  Umm. That'll do me, unless you can think of something better?

From left to right we have Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan.   Did you know that Roger Moore made 7 Bond films?  Neither did I until I read the back of the thimble.  I was also a bit surprised to see that Sean Connery's thimble says he only made 6.  That's odd I thought, so I did a google search and sure enough, Sean made 6 official Bond films and 1 that wasn't official.  It was called "Never Say Never Again" and was made in 1983 - but not by the people that own the Bond franchise. So it doesn't count.  It's also the only Bond film (or rather non-Bond)  that I have never watched.  Cool.  A bit of trivia which might come in handy if I'm ever on Who Wants to be a Millionaire.   

This is one of the reasons I love thimbles.  They are practical, decorative and educational.      

Of course, if Sean Connery can't claim 7 films due to a technicality, I can't really call this a Hunk of Bonds.  It's not complete. It's missing Daniel Craig.  So, to get a Hunk, I'll need Daniel.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Thimbles Decorative or Useful

Not all thimbles can be used to sew with. Some are purely decorative. These are a couple of the decorative ones that I have. Technically, the well isn’t really a thimble but it’s thimble sized, has a cute little cat in a bucket and so is therefore, in my opinion, thimble-esque (ish).

These three are made out of pewter and are an incredibly small snapshot of decorative thimbles available specifically for today’s collectors market. You can’t sew with these as the decoration gets in the way and they don’t have enough dimples. If using a thimble then dimples are fairly crucial to its success as a sewing aid.

Ideally, a usable thimble should have dimples on top and on the sides. It’s amazing how many times it’s useful to be able to alter the angle of the thimble to suit the stitch you are doing. This is why I have never used any of my china thimbles as they don’t have dimples on the sides.

Different people like different types of thimbles. Leather thimbles are a popular choice with hand quilters because they are durable and allow better control as the pressure of the needle on the finger can still be felt. I would like to try a leather one, but haven’t found a stockist yet. The little stick on fingertip pads that are available now also enable you to feel a needle, albeit in a kind of numb way. I have tried these but wasn’t that impressed. They allow a certain amount of needle control but I found that the sides of the little pads pick up dirt and fine threads which can be a bit of a nuisance.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Sequins and Silver

Santa, bless him, gave my girls some Sequin Art kits for Christmas. They love arts and crafts and pretty much sat down all day on Christmas Day, pushing pins through the sequins and into the polystyrene bases.

It’s amazing what can keep them occupied. After a while, my youngest began to complain that the tips of her fingers were getting sore. The pins used are normal fabric pins so do tend to leave little dents in delicate little digits. Umm. I said. You know what you need …. Quick as a flash they both cried out “Thimbles!” and dashed to the thimble display units.

These are the thimbles they came back with.

My eldest picked the red plastic one for its cool colour and lightness. My youngest picked the little silver one because it was just the right size. Good choice I said. It fits so well because it’s a child’s sterling silver thimble and judging from the dints, it’s had a fair bit of use already. The fact that it is silver is probably the main reason why it is so badly dented.

Silver is a soft metal whereas needles and pins are normally made from a harder metal. Its no surprise then that silver thimbles tend to suffer damage over prolonged use. That’s why back in the 1880s, a jeweller from Halifax called Charles Horner, started to make silver thimbles with an inner layer of steel. He patented his idea and called it the Dorcas Thimble. An instant hit due to it being both decorative and hardwearing. Clever chap. I don’t have one of these in my collection – yet. I’m working on it.

The taller silver one in the middle of the picture is just silver coloured metal and is my preferred choice for sewing with. I’ve used that for general every day sewing, for quilt making and of course, pushing pins into polystyrene.

Happy New Year.