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



  1. Because the Dorcas thimble was a steel thimble encased in sterling silver, it was never allowed to be marked as 'silver', because the steel thimble inside meant it wasn't solid silver.

  2. I have been looking at my Mother's collection of thimbles which includes a silver one that, on the top of the inside, says "sterling" then, under that, it has a large "C" with a large "W" through it as well as an arrow which has a circle just below the arrow's point. The arrow bisects the C and W. Below that is the number "7". I can't find the hallmark anywhere online. Thoughts? In the mean time, I'm continuing to search for it as it's now become a mission :D

    1. Hi Pam

      Without seeing a picture of the thimble, I'll have to give it my best guess. It's stamped Sterling rather than having a lion mark so could be North American. This is backed up by the makers mark - CW and an arrow. This belongs to the Webster Company of North Attleboro. Massachusetts. The company was founded by George K Webster in 1869 and became the Webster Company in 1894. I'm guessing that the "7" could be the thimble's size. Hope that helps.

  3. This post has been helpful but I'm really struggling with my grandmothers thimbles. I know 4 are sterling (they are marked as such) one is stamped "sterling 9" with no other markers (very basic), one is stamped "sterling 10" with what looks like a "P" stamped inside at the very top, another slightly more decorative one is marked MD sterling on the insider very top, the fourth is monogramed "LC" with a house scene on it - marked "sterling 7" on the outside and has that same "P" marker as before on the inside. Would you be willing to assist me with these?

  4. Hi, I'd be happy to. Without seeing photos, I can only give it my best guess. As it says Sterling rather than having a hall mark, I'm thinking American. The numbers sound like sizes. The P and the MD on the inside could be the mark of the craftsman who made the thimble for the thimble company. I'm thinking the company could be Simons Brothers, an American thimble maker founded by George Washington Simons in Philadelphia. For the thimble with the house scene - houses, farms and waterfront decorations were popular on American silver thimbles. The LC sounds like the original owner's initials rather than a maker's mark - were your grandmother's initials LC or could she have inherited it from her mum or mother in law? Because there is a P on the inside I'm still thinking Simons Brothers. Hope this helps.