A fairly plain thimble, designed to protect a needleworker’s finger from damage when using a needle and thread for lengthy periods of time.  It could be worn on a finger which pushes a needle through resistant fabrics, or on a different finger to protect it from the point of the needle as it punctures through fabrics.

This example is silver in colour – but is probably made from steel rather than silver itself as it has no hallmarks.  The surface of the thimble features many dimples, designed to accommodate the end of the needle, and stop it from slipping and potentially piercing the fingers of the handler.  Many such items, particularly those made of the more precious material of silver, feature far more decorative designs of dimples – but those on this example are basically arranged in rows.

Thimbles date back to prehistoric times, when hunters of mammoths used to decorate the hides with beads – some 30,000 years ago.  The modern, metal thimble that we recognise today was first made by a Dutch artisan in around 1695.  It has remained relatively unchanged ever since.

More information:

Date 1900s, 1910s, 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, 2010s
Material(s) Metal
Item number MBPO161

Questions to help you remember using this item

  • What kind of items might have been created or mended by someone at home?
  • Why aren't thimbles used so much in modern households?

User Stories

I remember watching my grandmother, in the 1960’s, as she darned socks.  She used a thimble on the ring finger of her right hand, to help her push the needle under and over the woollen threads – and a wooden “mushroom” over which to stretch the sock and recreate the woven fabric of the toe or heel which had developed a hole.  She said that her own mother had taught her how to do this, as a child of about 6 years (around 1910) – it was her special task in the family household, to keep everyone’s socks mended.

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