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Thimble Collecting

Updated on August 4, 2010

Thimbles: Little Darlings of Sewing Collectibles!

What's not to love about thimble collections? Every theme is yours for the asking: state thimbles, shield thimbles, animal thimbles, bird thimbles, event thimbles; metal, porcelain or wood thimbles - it's the whole world in miniature.

Thimbles are small and easy to display, they tell stories about places you've seen, places you'd like to see, or things you enjoy. And besides that, they're just plain charming!

Thimble collecting is no longer just grandma's hobby, it's caught on with all generations in a big way. 

Are You A Digitabulist?

Translation: Are You A Thimble Collector?

What a big fancy term for those who collect sweet little thimbles! Any digitabulist - thimble collector - will tell you that several things determine the value of a thimble. But the most important with any type of collectible is....

Condition: Does it have holes in it? Is it "out of round"? Is it heavily worn or cracked? These can negatively affect a thimble's value. (These problems would more likely occur on utilitarian thimbles, not thimbles purchased solely as collectibles.)

Of course, you can't go wrong if you collect what you love instead of only buying items considered to be of higher value. Buying what you love guarantees you'll always be happy with your collection; buying on speculation or according to today's values could leave you with a whole bunch of dust collectors in the future that you may not even like ... remember the Beanie Baby craze? I know people who paid lots of money on spec for "rare" Beanies that they didn't even like, and today some of those Beanies can't even bring a $5 bid at auction. Collecting on spec can be rough, to say the least!

I hope you enjoy these little interesting tidbits about world of thimbles!

Know the Value of Your Thimble Collection! - Great References on Collectible Thimbles

Meissen - The Holy Grail of Thimbles?

Among the rarest of thimbles!

Say the name "Meissen" at any auction and you'll see every fine china and porcelain collector sit up in their chairs. From coveted inkwell sets to teapots to figurines, Meissen quality is renowned worldwide.

Meissen thimbles are no exception. Although porcelain thimbles were created as gifts and collectibles, they were actually perfect for use with finer materials such as silk because their smoothness didn't cause pulls in the materials.

Many fine porcelain companies make thimbles, but Meissen thimbles, with their delicate and detailed designs, are very expensive and hard to find outside of museums. The well-known crossed sword symbol signifying Meissen can easily be faked, so make sure you know your stuff if you stumble across a Meissen thimble at the next auction, yard sale, or antiques shop you visit!

The Meissen thimble pictured here can be seen at The Thimble Guild website, a definite "must see" for anyone who enjoys thimbles!

The 18th Century Fashionable Thimble

From Utility to Fashion

Queen Elizabeth I may have brought the thimble into unexpectedly high fashion when she gave a jewel encrusted thimble to one of her ladies-in-waiting.

When artistic needlework gained favor with middle and upper class women in the 18th century, it wasn't surprising that the meager little thimble, a necessity with needlework, was elevated to a fashionable accessory. Thimbles became shorter and more rounded and some hung from chatelaines.

Following the lead of the queen, highly decorated thimbles could now be given as gifts. Today we can do the same thing with friends who are thimble collectors. The unusual metal thimble pictured here depicts two of San Francisco's most memorable features: the cable car and the Golden Gate Bridge.

The 17th Century Thimble

Reign of the Silver Thimble

Like me, you probably never realized that those metal thimble indentations we take for granted actually date back to the 17th century! Back then, silver thimbles were plentiful, and they were made in a wide variety of styles with a range of different decorations.

Rimless thimbles with chevroned strapwork and those inevitable waffle-like indentations were relatively commonplace. Originally the waffley indentations were square, but toward the latter part of the century, they were replaced with decorative circular knurlings. If you lived in England during the mid-17th century, your thimbles would be cylindrical, tall, and more than likely made from two pieces.

The metal St. Thomas Virgin Islands thimble pictured here, with an enamel shield, shows ornamental indentations used today in collectible thimbles.

Everything on Silver Thimbles at Amazon! - The real deal, reading, and reference - enjoy!

In The Beginning: Thimbles As Collectibles

The Sewing Machine Takes Over!

Time: mid 1800s. Enter Elias Singer and Isaac Howe, and suddenly thimbles are used less as sewing machines are used more. Around the same time, miles and miles of newly laid railroad track connect more and more places, and tourism to new locales and special events skyrockets. And what's a natural money-maker around tourists? Souvenirs!

Porcelain thimbles went into full souvenir production, featuring famous people, famous places, and memorable events. And today, over a century and a half later, tourists still love collecting souvenir thimbles as reminders of the places they've been and things they've seen.

The porcelain thimble pictured here features the Farmers Museum in Cooperstown, NY, just the type of tourist attraction that would have been featured on those original collectible porcelain thimbles.

Other Books on Sewing Collectibles - Expand your collection!

Thimbles - Old as Time Itself?

Oldies But Goodies!

Interesting Thimble Fact: Did you know that thimbles have been used by virtually every civilization since before Christ's time? They were made from just about every material that would serve the thimble's utilitarian purpose including leather, horn, bone, stone, ivory, glass - you name it! Porcelain thimbles became popular around the mid 1800s, and it was then that thimbles started their new life as collectibles.

More Great References on Thimbles and Thimble Collecting

Birchcroft Thimbles - Must See/Must Have Thimbles For Collectors

Beautiful quality thimbles at reasonable prices.

If you've never seen china thimbles made by Birchcroft, then you're in for a treat. A family-run company in England's famous Stoke-On-Trent for 25 years, Birchcroft thimbles are highly collectible - in fact, their website states that an entire collecting club was formed around Birchcroft thimbles and its members now number in the thousands. The site also says that most thimble sets are made in limited editions of 500 or less.

With many diverse designs (over 10,000 to choose from!) from cottages to books (yes these thimbles actually are shaped like books!) and model-tops to peepholes (you just have to see these unique ideas!), these beautiful china pieces are of interest to collectors in many different areas.

Stop by their website or check out their eBay store for their lowest prices, which you can get to from the module below.

Crossover Collectibles

Thimbles with Multiple Themes

Sometimes a single thimble can have more than one interest on it. A thimble from Florida decorated with palm trees and a sailboat, for example, might interest a collector of state thimbles as well as a collector who's interested in thimbles with sailboats, palm trees, or beach scenes. Many thimbles have crossover themes, so auctions for these types of thimbles can get more action than expected!

The sweet thimble pictured here would interest people who collect Alaska memorabilia as well as those who collect thimbles with birds, states, or Puffins.

Do you collect thimbles? Tell us about your finds, why you love these little darlings, or just say hi!

Drop In and Say Hi! - We'd love to hear from you!

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    • VBright profile image

      VBright 5 years ago

      I've been collecting Birchcroft thimbles and needle cases (and buttons) for years! I even have the printed original wedding thimble for Charles and Camilla's first wedding date, and the correct one. I absolutely love them all! Thanks for sharing this.

    • MrsPotts profile image

      MrsPotts 7 years ago

      I've never collected thimbles, but I've used them in hand sewing. Some of these are really lovely and I didn't realize there are such old samples to collect! Thank you for the resource!

    • norma-holt profile image

      norma-holt 7 years ago

      Great lens on a little known subject with such a big history. I used a thimble at school in sewing classes but rarely think of them now. *-*Blessed*-* and featured on Sprinkled with Stardust - Collectibles.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      The great thing about collecting thimbles is how small they are. Lots in a little space.

      I am going to add a link to this lens from my lens on Meissen.

      Thanks for the good lens.

    • profile image

      fingurbjorg 9 years ago

      Thank you for this lovely and entertaining information and pictures of thimbles :)

      I've been collecting for over 10 years now and I'm nowhere near stopping! ;)

      Birchcroft makes the thimbles in limited editions like that? I didnt know that! And I have several from Birchcroft, including a cottage, a book, peepholes....

      I've been into novelty thimbles, but being introduced to the antiques I might want a couple of those now :) But I will make sure it's one I actually like how it looks too! haha ;) Not just because its old.

      I did buy what was said to be old roman thimble, more like a thimble ring as they often made them in the beginning, I thought about what if its not authentic? But the price wasnt through the roof, and I do want an addition of a thimble with that appearance.. anchient thimble ring.

      So then I got it :P

      If it's ok for me to share here, I'm a member of a fairly new group

      I also just joined TCI yesterday! :)

    • LarryBass LM profile image

      LarryBass LM 9 years ago

      Sweeet Lens Anita! I'll see if I can dig up a picture or two of the very few that I have in my stuff. Thanx for the inspiration. I also dig the way you've laid out your Lens and the amount of great content you've jammed in there. Five star stuff from this ol' quillman for sure! :-)


    • profile image

      youhavegottobekidding 9 years ago

      I have always seen thimbles in plastic form but after visiting your Lens I was amazed by those great metallic ones, especially the PILGRIM HAT THIMBLE. Its design is like it was built for collection only.

      5 stars for you Great Lens.

    • Stazjia profile image

      Carol Fisher 9 years ago from Warminster, Wiltshire, UK

      Great 5* lens. I wouldn't have done my thimbles lens if I'd seen it first. I've lensrolled yours and favourited it.

    • bjslapidary profile image

      bjslapidary 9 years ago

      Great lens. I have a few thimbles that I have collected over the years. A go with for my buttons. 5*s for you.

    • ElizabethJeanAl profile image

      ElizabethJeanAl 10 years ago

      What a delightful lens! I have some thimbles but never really started "collecting" them. I'll have to give that some thought.



    • profile image

      merriweather 10 years ago

      I had heard of thimble collecting but it didn't sound so interesting...but you have converted me, these are really cool little collectibles! Great lens!

    • chisumtrailmerc profile image

      chisumtrailmerc 10 years ago

      Oh my - all of those wonderful thimbles, 5 stars for a very informative lense. Chisum Trail Mercantile

    • profile image

      anonymous 10 years ago

      Oh my gosh, I remember some really cool looking thimbles from when I was a child! Great lens!!!

    • PenneysCollecti profile image

      PenneysCollecti 10 years ago

      Very interesting lense! Five stars and a lense roll too!

    • Clairwil LM profile image

      Clairwil LM 10 years ago

      A really interesting niche lens. It's a really accessible introduction for a newbie and has lots that would interest experienced collectors. Great job. *****

    • kathysart profile image

      kathysart 10 years ago


      Thimbles! I ADORE it! 5 STARS

      Kathy's ACEO on Squidoo:

      Aloha, Kathy

    • MisterK1 profile image

      MisterK1 10 years ago

      Excellent hobby lens, 5*****

      You have been added to our hobby Squidoo group.


    • Gatsby LM profile image

      Gatsby LM 10 years ago

      5* This is cool! Solve Dog Behavior Problems

    • DogWhisperWoman1 profile image

      DogWhisperWoman1 10 years ago

      What a unique idea! I give you 5* Dog Whisper Woman

    • aka-rms profile image

      Robin S 10 years ago from USA

      These are so cute. I may start a new collection. Thanks for sharing.

    • profile image

      anonymous 10 years ago

      What a wonderful lens, awesome job! Welcome to the eCRATER Stores Group - Kathy

    • profile image

      webseitler 10 years ago

      I have about six lovely thimbles that belonged to my grandmother, which are very special to me. :) Great topic!

    • profile image

      flowski lm 10 years ago

      What a nice hobby, have fun collecting thimbles!

    • ForeignFilmFana profile image

      ForeignFilmFana 10 years ago

      I've always thought thimbles were really cute and now I don't have to be ashamed of my opinion! You've created another easily understandable lens! 5*!!

    • profile image

      bdkz 10 years ago

      Beautiful lens!