Opinion dating silver thimbles can
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A thimble is an object used to protect the finger and push the needle through the fabric or leather when sewing. The earliest known use of the word is 15th century, but the word is Old English in origin, and related to the word for thumb. The main division in thimbles is between the open, ring type and the domed, closed type. Domed thimbles can have a small hole in the top. It is relatively easy to put thimbles into different types based on size, shape and style of indentations - but less easy to date them, because the different shapes and sizes may relate more to function than to date.
Therefore a spoon made in two pieces in likely to be very early indeed.
Inspect the proportions of the spoon. Until the late 17th century, says Helliwell, bowls tended to be large in proportion to the stems, which were slender and delicate up to this point. Examine the spoon for decoration.
How to Identify Antique Spoons
Apart from apostle spoons, with finials in the shape of saints, most spoons made before will look attractively plain to the modern eye. Helliwell explains that during the 19th century, decoration became more elaborate, more extensive and more heavily embossed, extending even to the bowl in the case of fruit spoons.
They are cast in one piece, their indentations are knurled, and they have a characteristic waffle-shaped crown pattern. There is little variation in their design, other than size. They are believed to have been produced throughout most of the eighteenth century. These are similar in all respects, except size, to the normal thimbles of the period. By the beginning of the eighteenth century, manufacturers in Birmingham were producing a vast number of small brass articles, and it was not long before some began to copy the Lofting thimbles.
Although there is no documentary evidence of thimble making in the town before the second half of the century, it is likely that Lofting was feeling the pressure of competition before he died. The Birmingham manufacturers did not necessarily specialise in thimble production, but would often have a number of lines, typically including other small items such as buckles and buttons.
Simons Brothers Antique Victorian Sterling Silver Repousse Grape Sewing ; LOT OF 5 ANTIQUE & VINTAGE MOSTLY AMERICAN SIZE 8 STERLING SILVER THIMBLES; Antique Sterling Silver Thimble Engraved BIRDS & FLOWERS Simons Brothers; Fine Silver & Enamel THIMBLE - BUTTERFLIES. Hallmarked Birmingham Some imported thimbles (e.g. Finland, Germany) may also carry these marks because there was no specific mark for imported silver goods. Russian silver fineness was measured in 'zolotniks' and '84' corresponding to silver is the mark most commonly seen on Russian thimbles. Sep 17, Unless a thimble has a specific date mark it is possible only to arrive at an approximate time of manufacture and for very old thimbles this is best expressed in terms of the century or centuries in which the thimble was made, all other thimble should simply be dated as 'early', 'mid' or 'late' what ever century they were made in.
Unlike their working counterparts, however, examples of these thimbles are rarely recovered from the ground, probably because they were highly prized items, which saw little use.
The Birmingham Assay Office was opened in Birmingham in through the efforts of the industrialist, Matthew Boulton, to preclude such silver items having to be sent to London for taxing. If numbers recovered from the ground are any guide, working thimbles of the Lofting type dominated the early and middle eighteenth century, but during its second half, manufacturing changes, and a preference for taller thimbles, radically altered the situation.
Instead of casting in a mould, deep drawing forms the thimble shape from a sheet-metal disc. The metal is alternately forced between progressively developed sets of dies and annealed by heating until the desired shape is achieved. Thimbles of brass and silver produced in this way are thinner than their cast counterparts, and early ones often have steel tops to prevent needle penetration.
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Fig Two steel-topped thimbles of the late 18 th to early 19 th century produced by the deep drawing process. Fig 12 shows two thimbles produced by this method, their steel tops having been destroyed by corrosion, as is usual with excavated examples.
They date to the late eighteenth or early nineteenth century. The mechanical improvements in thimble production brought about by the new processes were complemented, at least in the case of brass, by metallurgical improvements to the metal. Prior to the mid-eighteenth century, brass was produced by adding calamine, an ore of zinc, to molten copper.
The nature of the alloying process, however, was not properly understood untilwhen metallic zinc was first extracted from calamine and recognised as a separate element.
Zinc eventually replaced calamine in the melt, but even prior to this, better understanding and control of the process resulted in a more ductile brass, which was better suited to the rolling and forming processes now being employed in thimble manufacture.
Fig A 19 th century brass thimble with concentric indentation pattern on the crown and pronounced rim. Deep drawing became the standard method of thimble production, and improvements early in the nineteenth century eliminated the need for steel-reinforced crowns.
The mass-production of thimbles facilitated by this process led to a vast variety of types in brass, silver, and even gold. The mass-production methods also dramatically reduced the price of thimbles, and the brass models, at least, were affordable by everyone. Brass working thimbles of the nineteenth century may be characterised by their pronounced rims and concentric rings of indentations on the crown. They are of thinner metal than earlier thimbles, and sometimes carry decorative markings or inscriptions around their bases.
Dating silver thimbles
The more expensive thimbles, and those of precious metal, were made in such a diverse range of shapes, sizes and designs that any generalisation is impossible. Figs 13 and 14 are examples of 19th century brass and silver thimbles respectively.
Fig A 19 th century rimless silver thimble with concentric indentation pattern on the crown. Reference Articles. Random records. Recent records. One purpose of the hole may have been to facilitate support of the core during the casting process, but hammered thimbles with this feature are also known Fig.
In any case, the pierced crown, which is said to be indicative of English manufacture, is not found on thimbles produced after about the end of the fourteenth century.
Tonsured crowns, however, persisted throughout the fifteenth and into the early sixteenth century.
Active c, silver and gold thimble manufacturers. Originally founded by Daniel B. Waite in as D.B. Waite & Co., Henry Thresher became a partner in Simons Brothers acquired their designs when the firm dissolved. First mark was a star, the thimble in its interior was added later. Successor to Waite, Smith & Co. Look for marks such as "EP" or "A1" on the back of the stem. These marks indicate silver plate. This process of applying a thin layer of silver to a base metal body was first widely employed in the s, so a silver-plated spoon will be no earlier than this date. Most surviving spoons dating from before this time would have been made. Jan 21, As I mentioned Charles Horner was the chap who invented silver thimbles with an inner steel core. Now, the lack of a hallmark makes this one a bit trickier to date. However, the fact that it shows Dorcas, CH and the size of the thimble, which in this case is 10, tells me that this thimble was made between and the 's.
Fig 3: By aboutthimbles were becoming a little taller, and the last of those with pierced crowns are of this type. UKDFD The use of precious metals for thimble manufacture during the medieval period appears to be extremely rare and copper-based alloys, predominantly brass, were invariably employed.
Although there was no large-scale brass-working industry in Englan many thimbles were produced locally. Some, however, were imported from the continent, principally from Nurembergwhich was a major brass-working centre.
Thimbles of the sixteenth century continue the trend towards a taller and more slender shape, and their crowns tend to be flatter, and sometimes slightly conical. Sheet-metal types gained in popularity during this period at the expense of the heavier cast variety. These include daggers, flowers, keys and spurs, but their attribution to particular manufacturers is not yet possible.
There are also several one-piece silver thimbles that might date to c. AD, and a selection is shown below. It seems intuitively likely that there should be variants in copper alloy, but these are difficult to find on the PAS database. One-piece silver thimbles, probably of late 17th- or early 18th-century date.
From aboutthe use of decorative features also became more common. Because the Dorcas thimble was a steel thimble encased in sterling silver, it was never allowed to be marked as 'silver', because the steel thimble inside meant it wasn't solid silver. I have been looking at my Mother's collection of thimbles which includes a silver one that, on the top of the inside, says "sterling" then, under that, it has a large "C" with a large "W" through it as well as an arrow which has a circle just below the arrow's point.
The arrow bisects the C and W. Below that is the number "7". I can't find the hallmark anywhere online.
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In the mean time, I'm continuing to search for it as it's now become a mission :D. Hi Pam Without seeing a picture of the thimble, I'll have to give it my best guess.
It's stamped Sterling rather than having a lion mark so could be North American. This is backed up by the makers mark - CW and an arrow. This belongs to the Webster Company of North Attleboro. I'm guessing that the "7" could be the thimble's size. Hope that helps.
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