Friday, April 22, 2011

I Think I Could Be A Digitabulist*


One of the things my kids will find among my keepsakes when I'm gone will be this thimble. I have it because it belonged to one of my grandmothers - though now I'm not sure which one.
It is a Simons Brothers Company (marked inside: "USA - SBC" with their keystone emblem) size 9 silver industrial thimble. It is a silver nickle mix made between 1919 and 1952. I don't know the name of the pattern around the bottom.
It fits the middle finger of my right hand, which, because I am right-handed, is where it should be worn. Both my grandmothers used thimbles when they did hand sewing. Both insisted I should, too. But I could never get used to wearing one. One of the grandmas wore hers on her ring finger. I tried that finger, too. It just seemed like the thimble was in the way.
Thimbles have been used since the first century AD - a Roman one, made of bronze, was found at Pompeii. Other materials used are silver, gold, leather, pewter, glass, china and even ivory. The first thimble made in England in 1695 by a Dutch metal worker named Lofting was called a "thumb bell" because it was worn on the thumb and resembled a bell. The term eventually became "thimble". The dictionary suggests 'thimble' is from the Old English 'thymel' - a covering for the thumb.

Sometimes I wish I had inherited my grandmothers' love for needlework. There was a time when I enjoyed embroidering. Grandma Lynam was the one who encouraged me learning the different stitches (and tried to get me to use a thimble). I would start a project and then quickly tire of it. I think the only things I ever finished were a pot holder and a baby bib. Perhaps if I had been born a century earlier when young ladies had to complete a sampler to demonstrate their skill with needlework, I might have learned to enjoy it more. As it is, I'm happy to have keepsakes of my grandmothers' and mother's handwork.



*A digitabulist is a collector of thimbles. That is what I think I could really enjoy. There are so many thousands of collecting possibilities. I would most likely limit my collecting to thimbles made of silver since it is my favourite metal, then limit it to ones I could afford and those which "spoke" to me. My collection might look something like this picture of thimbles once offered for sale at 'Antique Helper'. The next time I am in an antique store.............

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