Vintage Sewing Thimbles: From Then to Now

Got Vintage? loves specializing in anything vintage from paper and ephemera to clothing and jewelry to yes – you guessed it – vintage sewing! This week we will look at a staple of sewing – thimbles – that date back as early as 200 AD (supposedly) from ancient China.

Thimbles always originated as a way to protect your fingertips while using a needle in sewing and sewing goes back to the beginning of time. The first thimble is rumored to have been found in the tomb of a old China emperor although if it was really used for the same reason the thimble of today was – no one truly knows.

During the 16th century, thimbles rose to popularity and were mostly made of metal such as brass. Here is a look at one from the 1500’s while the second one is rumored to have originated during the 1700s:


As time marched on, thimbles became more decorative and collectible. During the reign of Elizabeth I it became known that she special ordered thimbles to give out as gifts to her servants and other hand maidens. This turned into a bit of a tradition, especially throughout Europe and made thimbles a gift to be treasured and very desirable. Even into the 18th and early 19th centuries, men would often give their sweethearts thimbles as remembrances. Here’s a look at an early 19th century “Remember Me” thimble that came complete with a matching holding case:


In the 19th and 20th centuries, thimbles became art and were regarded as souvenirs that took on some unique designs, forms, and caught the eyes of many artists, porcelain makers, and bone china artisans. There was even experiments of thimbles using gold, silver, and enamel. Here are some perfect examples of some bone china and other styles of thimbles:

chineseporcelainthimble royalworcesterbluebirdsporcelainthimble


Over the years, thimbles have taken on a number of different designs. Many collectors have enjoyed acquiring thimbles from all over the world, maybe from visiting every state in the United States, or finding as many different designs as possible to round out their collections. Here’s a glance at one collection of silver thimbles that have a wide array of designs with each and every one being just as unique and one-of-a-kind as the next.


Even if sewing doesn’t seem as popular today, there will always be room for thimbles. These days thimbles have been known to take on new forms and uses. This photo from Sarah Jessica Parker – a true fashionista – was recently posted by her on Instagram and shows how her own unique love for thimbles and her take on a new form in fashion with thimbles. Here she is wearing an open ended thimble as a piece of jewelry – a very eye catching ring:


This has become a huge trend for the fall of 2015 and extends to new ways a thimble may be used – even if it means wearing it as a fashion statement for now.


Whether you may be a dealer, collector, shopper, or vintage admirer, you want to join our group for the best of authentic vintage items in the secondhand marketplace ranging from individual shops to vintage available for you through sites such as Ebay and Etsy. Make sure to join in our vintage fun by following along with us on any of the following social media outlets:

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Thanks for reading! Until next time…tah tah!


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