Dating old thimbles

England Fig 7 Fig 8 Fig 9 Steel thimbles were made in England in large quantity in the 19th century.

Charles Iles and Company of Birmingham, and Olney Amsden and Son of London were two of the largest producers of steel thimbles at the time and marked the thimbles that they sold with their names (Fig 7) or initials (Fig 8, left).

Following Cortés’ conquest of Mexico in 1521, the colonial records of 1566 document the importation of 500 thimbles (2).

Some time later in England it became necessary to charge duty on thimbles being imported into the country.

Steel is a compound of iron and carbon and so depending upon the mix of the two elements, the properties of the alloy may change.The thimble was an essential tool of a sail maker, however, and it is highly probable that heavy brass and iron thimbles would have been found on board of the Santa Maria.Later as the Spanish and Portuguese colonialists established settlements in the Americas, it would have been essential to arrange for regular supplies of thimbles from Europe.Silver thimbles make for a delightful collection when arranged neatly together.They are easy to put on display and they can be found in all sorts of places from auctions to thrift stores, all depending on the collector's enthusiasm for searching.

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