A sewing thimble is worn on a finger or thumb by someone doing hand sewing to help push needles through the material being sewn and to prevent fingers getting stuck by the needle. Some history and facts about the sewing thimble:
- Thimbles of one sort or another have probably been around since the beginning of sewing, more than five thousand years ago.
- The oldest known thimble is made from bronze and dates from the 1st century A.D. It was found in the ruins of ancient Pompeii.
- Thimbles have been made from many different materials, including all types of metal, wood, glass, porcelain, bone, leather, rubber, whale bone, marble and ivory. Thimbles made for the use of royalty were fashioned from diamonds, sapphires and rubies.
- Hand-made metal thimbles were made by either casting the thimble in a mold, or rolling a piece of metal into a cylinder and soldering a cap onto it. The dimples in the thimble were punched by hand.
- Thimble production became mechanized around 1850 in England. The dimples were no longer hand-punched in to the thimble, but were done by machine. Industrially manufactured thimbles differed from hand made in that the metal was much thinner, the top of the thimble was flat and the dimples were made in a regular pattern.
- In the 19th century higher quality thimbles began to be made from silver. This metal is quite soft and a steel needle sometimes pierced the thimble. So a steel thimble was made and covered inside and outside with silver.
- Fine china thimbles were used for sewing delicate silk, as the thimble was very hard and smooth, thus eliminating any chance of snagging the material.
- Thimbles are more than an object for use by seamstresses. They have become works of art in their own right. From early hand made ones to modern ones decorated in many different ways, thimbles are a highly collectible item. Sewers and non sewers have made thimble collecting a popular activity. People that collect sewing thimbles are known as digitabulists.
- The most expensive thimble on record was auctioned off at a London auction house. It sold for over $39,000 in 1992. It was a 16th century gold and jeweled thimble thought to be a gift from the Mogul court in India to Queen Elizabeth I.