Learn more about British Royalty on thimbles
Build and share your knowledge about thimbles - new topics added regularly
THERE ARE 33 "LEARN MORE ABOUT..." TOPICS
Brass Advertising |
British Placenames |
British Royalty on Thimbles |
British Silversmiths |
Charles May |
Dorcas Thimble Boxes |
Hallmarked Thimbles set |
Miscellaneous Thimbles |
The World's Greatest Porcelain Houses |
Royal Albert |
Royal Crown Derby |
Royal Doulton |
Royal Worcester Handpainted Thimbles
Royal Worcester Decal Thimbles |
S + H Foskett |
Silver Advertising Thimbles |
Thimble Books |
Thimble Collectors Club |
Thimble Societies |
Thimbles with Slogans
Victorian Silver Scenic Thimbles |
Wedgwood Jasperware |
Wedgwood Bone China
THERE ARE 20 PAGES OF THIMBLES & OTHER ITEMS TO BUY
aluminium 1 |
books 1 |
brass 1 |
china 5 |
display cases 1
needlework tools 2 |
other collectables 1 |
pewter 1 |
silver 3 |
steel & metal 1 |
unusual materials 1 |
Click on a photo to see a bigger picture
I wasn't a thimble collector when the first thimbles appeared for the most important commemorative event in the modern era of thimble making. I am talking about Queen Elizabeth II's Silver Jubilee in 1977. The exquisitely-made sterling silver thimbles by James Swann & Son must surely be one of the most well-known modern thimbles and shortly after I became a thimble collector in 1984, one joined my collection. It is still the only silver royal commemorative I own. The next huge occasion for commemorative thimbles in the United Kingdom was the marriage of Prince Charles to Lady Diana Spencer and I eagerly sought one of these thimbles for my collection in 1984.
I have followed the production of royal commemorative thimbles, that for this purpose begins with the Ascension to the throne of HM Queen Elizabeth II in 1952, since I began collecting thimbles. I remember having the day off school in South Africa and I have the most vivid memory of listening to the coronation on the radio. I lived in London during 1969 and tho I watched the Prince Charles's Investiture on television, buying a commemorative thimble never crossed my mind - commemorative stamps were more in vogue then.
What has amazed me in doing this study on British royal thimbles since 1952, is how it reflects the history of the modern thimble making industry in the UK. I don't think there is an English modern thimble producer who has not had at least one royal commemorative thimble created in the last 50 years (Royal Doulton does spring to mind but they are not big thimble producers). The first commemorative china thimbles by Caverswall were as early as 1977 for the silver jubilee and no royal occasion passed until 1991 without a Caverswall commemorative thimble - Sutherland seems to have taken over this role when Caverswall closed and they are one of the few china producers making thimbles in any quantity in England today. The 1980s' production of royal thimbles reads like a who's who amongst thimble producers.
Henry Griffth & Sons ceased thimble production of their sterling silver thimbles in 1956, which was just in time to have produced one of the few thimbles made for the Coronation in 1953. James Swann & Son were also there for the coronation but having finally ceased production of all thimbles in 2005, they were the only English silversmiths making commemorative royal thimbles in any quantity in the second half of the twentieth century.
I had no idea just how many other silversmiths produced at least one royal commemorative thimble - and the Mappin & Webb silver thimble issued for the marriage of Charles and Diana, is an example of this.
Royal commemorative memorabilia is an industry in itself and if you think of the number of occasions there have been in the life of HM Queen Elizabeth II since 1952 - the "big" birthdays - anniversaries of her marriage to Prince Philip - anniversaries of her ascension to the throne and then her coronation and its anniversaries ... the list goes on and on. So it makes sense that there are more royal thimbles featuring HM than any other member of the royal family. Often there will be two thimbles for the same event by the same thimble maker - using the engagement photos of Charles and Diana for their wedding and then another with the wedding picture. Or "birth of a royal baby..." designed before the actual birth and then a sequel with the actual details of the baby born.
I have chosen to list the thimbles in a manner which I hope will become familiar to you with use, and I know there are hundreds of royal thimble collectors out there - chronologically for each member of the royal family listing thimbles for all their various birthdays, marriages and in some cases memorial thimbles. The biggest number of different thimbles produced for any single occasion was that for the wedding of Charles and Diana: 54 different thimbles, many of which are sets!! Their marriage in 1981 was the heyday of modern collectable thimble making!!
Being a British institution, 98% of royal thimbles produced were made in Britain, so it was surprising to find a few thimbles from Europe and now two have surfaced from the USA.
The wording on each thimble is as varied as the number of thimbles produced - some have just a commemorative year; others fit an entire biography written on the verso. There are always official royal photographs issued at royal milestones, but most thimble producers have ignored these and created a unique design different from their competitors, reflecting their prestige in the souvenir market. Prince of Wales feathers feature prominently.
I have grouped the family of each member of the royal family together ie Princess Anne's children are featured under the Princess Anne heading etc.
Will any of the royal thimbles produced in the last 50+ years become the antiques of the future, matching the rare and highly desirable sterling silver thimbles produced in the middle of Victoria's reign?
I am sure there are many royal thimbles that have not yet crossed my path - there are around 710 recorded here, with nearly 50 different thimbles alone produced for Prince Charles marriage in 1981 - please be sure to share your favourite royal thimbles that I may have missed.
What will be the next royal event to be commemorated? HM Queen Elizabeth's 60th Jubilee of her ascension to the throne in February 2012 is the latest one recorded - and who can forget that majestic 1000-ship armada parading down the Thames in June of this year?
The Royal family |
Queen Elizabeth II |
Prince Philip |
Prince Charles |
Princess Diana |
Princess Anne |
Prince Andrew |
Prince Edward |
Princess Margaret |
Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother |
Prince William |
return to top