Collectable Glass Sewing Thimbles
Admired by both sewing enthusiasts and collectors alike, a pretty collectable glass sewing thimble is a useful gift or valued addition to a collection.
Thimbles were first used to protect the fingers of tailors when hand sewing but their decoration - both simple and elaborate - means they have also become popular among collectors. Thimbles can be made in a variety of materials but glass thimbles have been produced by some of the most famous names in glassware including Caithness, Murano and Ullmann. These decorative items have been produced for the collector and are not intended for use in sewing.
Many glass thimbles have been produced using the millefiori technique which fuses together different glass rods to make a decorative pattern. This technique was pioneered in the 16th century by Murano Glass in Italy. Glass thimbles produced by Murano glass using this technique are distinctive for their spiral design. The Scottish Caithness Glass Company introduced a range of glass thimbles in 1978 using the millefiori technique. They stand out for their coloured glass, in orange, turquoise, ruby, heather, green, blue, amber and yellow, with a decorative pattern on top. The German family-run Ullmann Glass has produced a variety of different coloured and intricately decorated glass thimbles.
The earliest found thimble dates back to Ancient China. In the United Kingdom thimbles were first used in the 10th century and they were in common use by the 14th century. The vast majority of thimbles were made of brass, but by the end of the 18th century they began to be made with silver.
Collectable thimbles can be made from metal, leather, rubber and wood as well as china and glass.
Throughout history thimbles which were unsuitable for sewing, have been given as keepsakes. Collecting thimbles became popular in the UK when companies made special thimbles to commemorate the Great Exhibition of 1851. In the 1930s and 1940s glass-topped thimbles began to appear and these were used for advertising. People who collect thimbles are known as digitabulists.