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THIMBLEFULS NOT SHOWN TO SCALE


  Thimblefuls  

I have done a thorough search of all my thimble books and the internet and I was surprised to find how little information there is on thimblefuls. There are two photos in one of McConnel's thimbles books, which confirm my findings that the Thimble Society of London has rarely had any of these for sale. There are no examples in the book on Settmacher in Austria, but there is record of a German advertising thimbleful, made by Gabler. Where there are brief mentions in the literature, I have included the photos. Johnson lists them under 'Novelties and Oddities'. The exception to scant information is Holmes who has an entire chapter entitled 'Just a Thimbleful', which lends credence to collecting them. Gaussen maintains that thimblefuls are collected with sewing accessories because of their thimble shape.

As early as 1617 the thimbleful was accepted as an indication of measure. From then on there is a clear association of thimble shapes and drinking measures. The internet is peppered with references to 'Just a Thimbleful' but rather as a figure of speech, indicating a small amount.

Spirit or tot measures have been made in the shape of thimbles since Victorian times as popular novelties. They are known by a variety of names: shot glasses, jiggers and thimble cups. They replicate thimbles, down to the indentations and when placed with the open side up, the height measures, on average, 50mm. The base should be flat or able to stand on its own without wobbling. Some have indented bases, others are smooth. The traditional measure for a spirit measure is one ounce [1 oz]. Some have this measurement lettered on the base of the thimbleful. Thimblefuls can have a metal or enamel badge affixed for various events, tourist attractions or towns. Some of the Scottish thimblefuls are thistle-shaped.


AMERICAN JIGGERS [Gullers]

Thimblefuls are made of glass, brass, aluminium, china or porcelain, copper, chromium or chromed metal, nickel silver, silver-plate, silver, pewter, plastic, wood and gold. In fact they "come in any material you can pour drinks out of".

The lettering varies considerably; from Thimble Full [usually over two lines] - Thimbleful - Just a Thimbleful - Just a Thimble Full [most common form] - Only a Thimbleful or Only a Thimble Full [this appears to be American terminology] - A Stitch in Time Saves Nine - the four Scottish forms A Wee Drappie - For Auld Lang Syne - A Wee Deoch and Doris - A Wee Deoch and Dorius- and a newly discovered terms of Just a Swallow - all lettered across the top of the thimble when the thimbles are placed on the apex, with the open end upwards. The German lettering is Nur ein Fingerhut Voll. In my opinion, the lettering is what makes a thimbleful. Without it, does it just become a spirit measure or jigger? and therefore outside the scope of this thimble topic. I have tried not to include any thimblefuls in shape, when there is no lettering to indicate them as such.

Some would have been handmade. The rims are not commonly rolled, but examples exist with rolled rims. Most have the indentations going under across the base, a few are smooth.

In 1970, Cartier initiated a 'Gold Thimble' award for outstanding fashion designers. It is about three inches tall and made of silver gilt.

Johnson has a good selection of thimblefuls, showing the variety available, in both material, height and style.

I have not included large-sized china thimbles that usually stand on their open side, with no lettering of 'Thimblefuls'. The exception is the crested china thimbles that Edwin Holmes included in his chapter on Thimblefuls.

It is interesting to find that some thimblefuls have their own thimble cases. They would be particularly useful for the fragile glass thimblefuls. It was rare to find one with a case but they are becoming available now thru eBay. The cases are made of cardboard or leather. The shapes vary from cylindrical boxes or those that are fitted to the thimble shape and that open sideways. I have included photos of the thimbleful containers where possible.


L-R: PEWTER WITH A THICK ROLLED-BACK RIM; SILVER-PLATED; NICKEL WITH ENAMEL SOUVENIR PLAQUE;
GREEN GLASS; PEWTER; ANOTHER SOUVENIR; SILVER-PLATED; BLACKBERRY AND CREAM SLAG GLASS [Johnson]


[McConnel]


THIMBLEFULS
METAL | WOODEN | SILVER | CHINA | PEWTER | GLASS | PLASTIC

  Metal thimblefuls  

The largest group of thimblefuls is those made of metal. It is difficult to accurately describe the metals, and they are included in this section if they are not made of silver or pewter.

Charles Iles, and later Iles & Gomms of Birmingham, would have made the most commonly found thimblefuls - those made of cupro nickel, chromed metal or silver-plated brass. Over time the some of the silver plate has worn off, leaving the brass showing. Iles, who had been producing thimbles since the 1860s, were the world's biggest producers of functional thimbles in the twentieth century until they ceased production in 1990.


COPPER, 1984

CHROMIUM-PLATED

SILVER-PLATED BRASS

A WEE DEOCH-AN-DORIS
-----------------------   CHARLES ILES   -----------------------
44mm

-----------------------------------------   JUST A THIMBLE FULL  -----------------------------------------
-----------------------------------------   A WEE DEOCH-AN-DORIS   -----------------------------------------

Charles Iles registered his design for silver-plated brass thimblefuls with the RD No. 707065 and the lettering is 'Just a Thimble Full'. He registered the design on 17 July 1924. The registered design included a crest attached to the side. The copyright was extended for four five-year periods and expired in July 1939, which attests to a popular design. Their production ceased in 1970. Was it coincidental that Iles made thimblefuls with enamelled badges for the British Empire Exhibition in the same year of 1924?


CHARLES ILES
WITH A GLASS INSIDE

So if you have any metal thimblefuls where the words 'thimble' and 'full' are separate, with no rolled rim, the band that contains these words being half of the total height of 44mm, and the indentations going from there right under the thimble, you have got an Iles-made thimbleful. It is a bonus when the RD No is on the thimble as well.


NORTHERN RHODESIA
ILES & GOMMS

BRITISH EMPIRE EXHIBITION 1924
CHARLES ILES

MELBOURNE
ILES & GOMMS
-----------------------------------------   JUST A THIMBLE FULL   -----------------------------------------

As can be seen, the enamel crests that are affixed to Iles thimblefuls are very varied in shape and design. I know this list is endless but it would be great to have it as complete as possible. Do you know of any other crests to add to the list of 88 below? It is interesting to note that they seem exclusively made for countries of the British Commonwealth. The following list are of Iles thimblefuls with an enamel crest made for the tourist market or as a commemorative. I have listed the lettering from the top as it appears on the badge and whether the Registration number appears on the thimbleful.

Others of this type:


ABERDEEN +RD No

ABERYSTWYTH +RD No

AYR +RD No

BALLATER +RD No

BANFF +RD No

BARRY ISLAND

BON ACCORD ABERDEEN [Canada]

CANADA

CHESTER +RD No

CORONET PEAK QUEENSTOWN NZ

COWES +RD No

CRIEFF

DOUGLAS

DUNDEE +RD No

DURBAN +RD No

EAST LONDON [South Africa]

EDINBURGH [A wee deoch-an-doris]

EMPIRE EXHIBITION SCOTLAND 1938

FIAT OAMURA N.Z

FIDE ET FORTITUDINE +RD No

FRAE BONNIE SCOTLAND [+ colourway]

H.M.S FURIOUS

H.M.S. RODNEY +RD No

H.M.S. ROYAL SOVEREIGN +RD No

ISLE OF MAN

ISLE OF MAN SOUVENIR

JAMAICA

JEDBURGH

JERSEY +RD No

JOHN O GROATS +RD No

KILLARNEY

KIRKWALL

LAKE WANAKA PEMBROKE NZ +RD No

LAUTOKA FIJI. RERE VAKANA KALOUKA DOKA NATUI

LET GLASGOW FLOURISH +RD No

LOCH LOMOND

LONDON

LOVELY LILLESHALL +RD No

THE NEW ZEALAND CENTENNIAL EXHIBITION 1840-1940

PERTH [Scotland]

PLAYGROUND OF NEW ZEALAND THE CHATEAU TONGARIRO

PORT MORESBY PAPUA +RD No

PORTREE +RD No

RIVERTON N.Z. +RD No

ROTORUA N.Z.[geyser]
ROTORUA NZ TIKI

SANDOWN +RD No

SCARBOROUGH

SOUTHAMPTON

SOUTHPORT +RD No

SOUTHSEA

STRATFORD-ON-AVON

TABLE MOUNTAIN CABLEWAY +RD No
TABLE MOUNTAIN CABLEWAY S.A.

THE ANGLER'S ELDORADO RUSSELL BAY OF ISLANDS NZ

TINTERN ABBEY +RD No

TOLL BAR GRETNA GREEN +RD No

TORONTO

TOWN OF GOOLWA INCORPORATED AD MDCCCLXXII [+ crest] +RD No

WESTON-SUPER MARE +RD No

WEYMOUTH +RD No

List of similar thimblefuls that still need photos - please share
ADELAIDE
ANTIGUA
BAKEWELL
BRIGHTON
FORT WILLIAM
H.M.S. HERMES
H.M.S. REVENGE +RD No
INVERNESS
LLANGOLLEN
THE NORTH-EAST COAST EXHIBITION MAY-OCT 1929
NORTHERN RHODESIA
OBAN
THE OLD CURIOSITY SHOP
PALMERSTON NORTH
PORT ELIZABETH
PRESTWICK
SOUTHERN RHODESIA
TREGARON WALES
TRINIDAD
UMTALI
VICTORIA FALLS
WINDSOR


One of the greatest joys for me with all the topics in my Learn More About ... Thimbles topics, is receiving information on the most wonderful finds that collectors share with me and then in turn with you.
The latest is this Charles Iles thimbleful box, which he patented as early as 1898!! The cardboard thimbleful box is lettered diagonally with Just a Thimble Full with the registration number RD315477 lettered alongside. The date has been confirmed as 8th March 1898, registered by Charles Edward Iles!!


JUST A THIMBLE FULL RD315477
thimbleful box
Charles Edward Iles, 1898
photo : Ray Nimmo


These thimblefuls with rolled rims, a beaded band below the rolled rim (tho some seem to be on the rim itself) and round metal with enamel badges affixed, are for a range of Australian cities and towns. The indentations are dash-like and the bases are indented. Are they Australian made? They were available in shops in Australia in the 1950s. The word 'Thimble Full' or 'A Thimble Full' may be written, one word under the other, on some of these examples. The script also differs on some examples, from Italics to Gothic. The shapes of the badges are the same as those produced for teaspoons in Australia. The badges for those were made by Stokes of Ringwood, Victoria.


HOBART
showing The Cat and the Fiddle Arcade

KEMPSEY NSW

with no badge
-----------------------   ROLLED RIM   -----------------------
47mm
-----------------------------------------   THIMBLE FULL   -----------------------------------------

Others of this type:


ALICE SPRINGS N.T.

CANBERRA A.C.T

GLENELG SA

KOSCIUSKO

LAUNCESTON TAS

LIGHTS STATUE ADELAIDE

NORFOLK ISLAND

ORANGE NSW

List of similar thimblefuls that still need photos - please share
DARWIN N.T.


This group of thimblefuls are different enough not to be made by Charles Iles or Iles & Gomms. The lettered band is much narrower, the dimpling is different and the indentations go right under the base; only the lettering around the thimblefuls is identical to that used by Iles. They mainly have a small hole near the lip of the thimbleful - was this to prevent to thimble from overflowing if used as a spirit measure? But the lettering is identical to the Iles thimblefuls? Was this just a later version? One or two of these examples also have a slightly flared rim, the plain band is nearly as wide as an Iles' thimbleful and they don't have a 'hole' near the rim, whereas most of the other examples are quite straight-sided right to the rim.

Is it just a coincidence that most of this group of thimblefuls depict New Zealand scenes?


RAILWAY STATION
TOWNSVILLE QLD

THE OLD CURIOSITY SHOP

GREAT BARRIER REEF
HERON ISLAND
-----------------------   JUST A THIMBLE FULL   -----------------------
40-43mm

Others of this type:


ADVANCE TAURANGA NZ [flared rim]

DUNEDIN N.Z.

FOX GLACIER HOTEL N.Z. THE MAJESTIC FOX

MAORI WARRIOR ROTORUA NZ

MOUNT RUAPEHU N Z [smooth base + hole]

NYASALAND + hole

PEACEFUL LAKE WANAKA NEW ZEALAND [flared rim]

POLPERRO [+ hole]

RUSSELL BAY OF ISLANDS N.Z. [smooth base + hole]

WELLINGTON N.Z. [+ hole]

List of similar thimblefuls that still need photos - please share
THE FAMOUS KARAPITI BLOWHOLE WONDERFUL WAIRAKEI NZ
WORLD FAMOUS GLOW WORM GROTTO WIATOMO CAVES NZ


Another batch of thimblefuls are those that don't match any of the above and some have fluted patterning at the opening. There is no uniformity about the size and shape of the metal or enamelled fixture. Type C and Type D have identical lettering to the earlier Iles thimblefuls - are they just later versions?


Type A
PAUL REVERE HOUSE, BOSTON MASS [USA]
ONLY A THIMBLEFUL

fluted opening
smooth base
43mm

Type B
DAYTONA BEACH
ONLY A THIMBLE FULL

rolled rim
smooth base
40mm

Type C
BERMUDA
JUST A THIMBLE FULL

with 'pinched top'

Type D
BAGPIPER
JUST A THIMBLE FULL

Other placenames like Type A
ATLANTIC CITY NEW JERSEY
CHEYENNE WYOMING
GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK
QUEEN ELIZABETH 2

Other placenames like Type B
AIR FORCE ACADEMY
CARLSBAD CAVERNS NATIONAL PARK NM
GOVERNORS PALACE WILLIAMSBURG VA
HEMINGWAY HOME KEY WEST
THE HERMITAGE NASHVILLE TENN
HIGHEST BRIDGE IN THE WORLD ROYAL GORGE COLO
NATURAL BRIDGE VIRGINIA
NEW ORLEANS LOUISIANA
OREGON CAVES OREGON
PINE TREE STATE MAINE
THE SEAQUARIUM MIAMA FL
STATUE OF LIBERTY NEW YORK CITY
SUN VALLEY
TIMBERLANE LODGE MT HOOD OREGON
WASHINGTON DC
WEST POINT
WHITEFACE MOUNTAIN SUMMER HOUSE
a horse
a gilt shell

Others like Type D
LONDON


Other silver-plated thimblefuls are made by 'P.H.V.' or 'P.H.V & Co'. This is the Birmingham maker P J VOGEL. They are made in England and are marked 'Just a Thimbleful'. They measure 37mm [1oz] and 52mm [1 1/2 oz] and there is even one for 2 oz! The base is smooth. Sterling silver examples by this maker have surfaced.


P.H.VOGEL

P.H.VOGEL&Co

SILVER-PLATED
-----------------------------------------   JUST A THIMBLEFUL   -----------------------------------------


Another maker's mark on silver-plated thimblefuls is 'I.F.S.' with 'LTD' vertical. Above this is a closed fist with a hammer-type instrument. They are marked 'Just a Thimbleful'. They measure 52mm [1 1/2 oz, which is marked on the base] and the base is smooth; the rim is rolled. It is very similar in shape to those made by 'P.H.V.'


I.F.S. LTD
JUST A THIMBLEFUL
SILVER PLATE
1 1/2 oz

I.F.S. LTD MARK
closed fist with a hammer-type instrument


The one thimbleful that I covet belonged to my sister in Melbourne. She found it as a gift for Mum about 35 years ago. It is huge and it was an appropriate gift for our mother, as she always only wanted a 'thimbleful' of sherry. It is silver-plated and now fits in nicely with the rest of my collection!! It's made by 'William Hutton & Sons' and silver-plated. The indentations are continued under the base, leaving a smooth circle for the maker's mark. This very large thimbleful will hold a pint!!


WMH & S
JUST A THIMBLE FULL
SILVER PLATE
125mm - 105 mm wide

WILLIAM HUTTON & SONS MARK
with crossed swords


There are a few thimblefuls made of aluminium, but they are in the minority. The examples have smooth bases.


Type A
ALUMINIUM
JUST A THIMBLE FULL

with a bright-cut thistle
45mm

Type B
ALUMINIUM
A STITCH IN TIME SAVES NINE
100mm

Type C
ALUMINIUM
PENNSYLVANIA DUTCH
ONLY A THIMBLE FULL

with a paper label and crosshatched indentations

Other placenames similar to Type C [slightly different indentations]
3 VALLEY GAP B.C. CANADA ['Hong Kong' on smooth base and paper label] [43mm]
ALOHA FROM HAWAII ['Japan' on base]
KNOTT'S BERRY FARM ['made in Hong Kong'] [40mm]
PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND LADY SLIPPER
TEXAS
WILLIAMSBURG VA


Isn't this such a cutie? Not unlike a jelly-mould in design with its fluted body. The lettering is 'Just a Thimble Full'.


JUST A THIMBLE FULL
53mm


A rarer copper thimbleful of high quality and a thick rolled rim comes from Canada. There is no metal badge affixed, but the place name is included as 'Niagara Falls Canada Just A Thimble Full'


NIAGARA FALLS CANADA
JUST A THIMBLE FULL
47mm


Another copper thimbleful has the Scottish 'A wee deoch-an-Doris' as a thimble whiskey measure. Long indents.


A WEE DEOCH-AN-DORIS
40mm


Another copper thimbleful 'Just a Thimble Full'. Very sloping sides. No maker's marks


JUST A THIMBLE FULL


This brass thimbleful has beading below the rim and the indentations are different in that they are diamond-shaped.


ONLY A THIMBLE FULL
49mm


This aluminium thimbleful is unusual as it has a screw-top lid. Was the lid used to carry the illicit grog during the Prohibition days of the 1920s in the USA? There is lettering on the lid: 'A Thimble Full'. It is also an advertising thimbleful for 'BUCKLEY'S 418 GAY ST. BALTO MD' which is lettered around the band. This is a bar in Baltimore Maryland.


ALUMINIUM
BUCKLEY'S 418 GAY ST. BALTO MD
A THIMBLE FULL

50mm


It is rare to find a silver-plated thimbleful with its own leather fitted case. It is velvet-lined. The thimbleful has no marks or lettering.


SILVER-PLATED
JUST A THIMBLE FULL
only the leather case has lettering
thimble: 50mm


Silver-plated thimblefuls were made by James Dixon & Sons, in Sheffield, England. The maker's mark is lettered on the base, with a bugle. 70mm (that's big). This size is said to be a 'dramme measure'.


SILVER-PLATED
JAMES DIXON & SONS - SHEFFIELD
JUST A THIMBLE FULL
thimble: 70mm


This metal thimbleful was made in Hong Kong. It is fun to see the original packaging. The thimble is lettered "Only a Thimble Full".


METAL
HONG KONG
ONLY A THIMBLE FULL


This aluminium thimbleful has diagonal lines patterning. The thimble is lettered "Just a Thimbleful".


ALUMINIUM
JUST A THIMBLEFUL


This silver metal thimbleful is almost as wide as it is tall. The lettering "Just a Thimbleful" is lettered to read correctly when the open end is down. The surface is very stippled. Good weight.


METAL
JUST A THIMBLEFUL
36mm


This little treasure is a silver metal thimbleful with the lettering "A Wee Deoch an Doris" on a thistle-shaped thimbleful. The enamel crest is for Grantown on Spey, a place in Scotland - completing the Scottish themed thimbleful.


METAL
A WEE DEOCH AN DORS
GRANTOWN ON SPEY
thistle-shaped
photo : Anne Jansen


The lettering on this thimbleful is a first!! "Just a Swallow" - how many interesting slogans can there still be? Some glass spirit measures also include a swallow decaled onto the surface, but they are not classed as thimblefuls.


METAL
JUST A SWALLOW
photo : Anne Jansen


It would seem that thimblefuls have been prized rather than used as more of the original cases find their way onto the market, happily with the thimbleful inside. This example is gilded inside and has no other marks, other than the lettering 'Just a thimbleful' - there is a blank cartouche for engraving a name. Isn't this such a gorgeous sturdy little case?


SILVER-PLATED METAL
JUST A THIMBLEFUL


Here the thimble holder almost takes precedence over the thimbleful!! These bear holders usually were made in Germany.


SILVER-PLATED METAL
JUST A THIMBLEFUL
photo : Mabel Rogers


This thimbleful is lettered 'upside down' - the lettering can be read when the open end is down! It is lettered 'Just a Thimbleful' with a Maltese cross-type mark.


SILVER-PLATED METAL
JUST A THIMBLEFUL
62mm

MALTESE CROSS MARK


The distinctive "T" [longer downstrokes on the horizontal] for the word thimble, marks this silver-plated thimbleful as different. There are indentations right across the base and the indents on the body are well-formed. No other marks. Country of origin unknown.


SILVER-PLATED METAL
JUST A THIMBLE FULL


This group is one of the sized thimbleful sets - and there are 4 sizes illustrated here: 5oz - 2oz - 1.5oz - 1oz, which are lettered on the relevant bases, together with the maker's name - Raimond. The lettering is 'Just a Thimbleful'. No other marks. Country of origin unknown.


SILVER-PLATED METAL
JUST A THIMBLEFUL


This thimbleful has a delightful play on the Scottish slogan of 'A wee Deoch and Doris' - this reads a playful 'A Wee Deoch an Dorius'!! Who was Dorius? Maybe it is just s mis-spelling of "Doris"?? Like other thimblefuls with this Scottish saying, the shape is that of a thistle.


SILVER METAL
A WEE DEOCH AN DORIUS

in the shape of a Scottish thistle
45mm


This plated thimbleful is from Viners of Sheffield and marked 'Just a Thimble Full'.


VINERS OF SHEFFIELD
SILVER METAL
JUST A THIMBLE FULL


Nothing further is known about this thimbleful - note the central lines on the body.


The unusual feature about this thimbleful is the gilt colouring over the top part of the thimbleful. There are no maker's marks. There is a monogram of "DS" in the cartouche. The lettering is 'Just a Thimbleful' over striated bands


JUST A THIMBLEFUL
GILDED UPPER BAND


METAL | WOODEN | SILVER | CHINA | PEWTER | GLASS | PLASTIC

  Wooden thimblefuls  

Robert Herron of Tasmania's thimblefuls are of Huon pine with 'Just a Thimbleful' pyrographed onto the thimbles. Doug Birrell of Melbourne has also produced wooden thimblefuls in various timbers with 'Just a Thimble-Full' pyrographed. Herron's base is flat, Birrell's has rounded his but there is no movement.


ROBERT HERRON
JUST A THIMBLEFUL

DOUG BIRRELL
JUST A THIMBLE-FUL


METAL | WOODEN | SILVER | CHINA | PEWTER | GLASS | PLASTIC

  Silver thimblefuls  
in alphabetical order by silversmith


19TH CENTURY SILVER, AND A SILVER-PLATED ONE BY ASPREY'S OF LONDON. [Dreesman]

Sterling Silver from the USA, made by BBL. The example at left has monogram AED on the verso. There is a band of beading near the rim. Click to see the verso


AMERICAN STERLING SILVER
ONLY A THIMBLEFUL

AMERICAN STERLING SILVER
BBL
ONLY A THIMBLE FULL

AMERICAN STERLING SILVER
JUST A THIMBLE FULL
Valley Forge Kennel Club on the verso


This is an American sterling silver thimbleful made by Cartier. It is marked on the open end with 'Sterling' the Cartier maker's marks and 'Cartier', below a beaded rim. The lettering is 'Only a Thimble Full'. The base is stippled with the same pattern as the body of the thimbleful with a gilt lining.


CARTIER
ONLY A THIMBLE FULL

CARTIER MARK


This is an English sterling silver thimbleful made by William James Dingley [WJD]. It is marked on the open end with the British hallmarks for Birmingham 1903. The lettering is read correctly when the thimbleful is standing on it's open end (ie oppositie way from the maker's marks) 'Just a Thimbleful' in blue enamel. The indentations are diamond-shaped and the narrower apex is more defined than most


WILLIAM JAMES DINGLEY
JUST A THIMBLEFUL

in blue enamel
Birmingham 1903


Norma Spicer, in her booklet on James Fenton, mentions a 'tot measure', which could be given as a gift or souvenir. "As they only hold three teaspoonsful, any Scotsman given a 'wee dram' in one of these would have every right to feel deprived". The one shown is stemmed, of sterling silver and hallmarked for 1898 with 'For Auld Lang Syne' around the top.
The second example from James Fenton is also stemmed hallmarked for Birmingham - coincidentally? - also 1892 and the lettering is 'Just a Thimble Full'


JAMES FENTON [Spicer]
1898
FOR AULD LANG SYNE

JAMES FENTON
Birmingham 1898
JUST A THIMBLE FULL


Sterling silver by H Freeman. Lettered 'Just a ThimbleFul' to be able to be read when standing on its open end. Country of origin unknown.


H FREEMAN
JUST A THIMBLEFUL

H FREEMAN


Sterling silver from Birmingham by Hilliard & Thomason. Lettered 'Just a Thimble Full' with a thistle.


HILLIARD & THOMASON
BIRMINGHAM
JUST A THIMBLE FULL


The ultimate thimbleful to own would be that made by Charles Horner. In his sales catalogue this sterling silver thimble is called a 'whiskey measure'. It looks taller than other thimblefuls. Known hallmark dates are from the 1910 and 1950s. The lettering is 'Just a ThimbleFull'. Recently another example has turned up, hallmarked Chester 1948. Contrary to the advertisement for Horner thimblefuls, most are lettered 'Just a Thimbleful' - the ad shows that it ends with "-full". The indents continue under the thimbleful.


HORNER CATALOGUE [Lawson]

CH CHESTER 1948
JUST A THIMBLEFUL
gilt wash inside
51mm

CH CHESTER 1930
JUST A THIMBLEFUL
showing gilt wash inside
54mm (taller)

CH CHESTER 1910
JUST A THIMBLEFULL

lettering upright when the thimble stands on the open end
gilt wash inside
50mm


The thimble on the right has markings for K & Co. There are additional marks with 'E.P' for electroplated silver?, and a crossed keys maker's mark. The thimbleful is larger than usual. The lettering is 'Just a thimbleful' with a Maltese cross-type mark.
On the right this thimbleful is more ornate than usual with additional decoration around the rim. The lettering is in a narrow band flanked by a row each of striations. This is a modern thimbleful made by KMS, hallmarked for Birmingham, 1997. The lettering is 'Just a Thimbleful'.


K & CO
JUST A THIMBLEFUL
60mm

KMS
BIRMINGHAM, 1997
JUST A THIMBLEFUL


This sterling thimble is lettered with The Mauser Mfg. Co on the base but there is no country of manufacture. A Google search reveals this to be a US based company at the end of the 19th C. The lettering is in an unusual script [see the Towle thimbleful for identical lettering] "Just a thimble full". There is additional lettering on the rim 'Sterling 7760' with an unknown maker's mark between. There is a gold wash inside.
The example on the right has the most marvellous monogram - what a great thought for a gift!!


THE MAUSER MFG. CO.
JUST A THIMBLE FULL

gilt wash inside
with a stylish monogram on the example on R
1.75 inches

THE MAUSER MFG. CO.
Sterling 7760
+ maker's mark


Henry Muhr was one of the smaller thimble makers in the United States during the late 1800s. It is another example of a thimble being made to stand on its open end. The indentations are stippled with the lettering 'Just a Thimble Full'.


HENRY MUHR &SONS
JUST A THIMBLE FULL
2 inches


This sterling thimble is made by an English silversmith who manufactured thimbles in the 1960s and 70s - SJ Rose. It is hallmarked for Birmingham, 1972. The base is smooth with a gold wash inside. It is different in that the lower surface is interestingly stippled.


SJR = SJ ROSE
BIRMINGHAM 1972
JUST A THIMBLEFUL
2 1/4 inches


Simons of Philadelphia have made thimblefuls in both sterling silver and gold. The thimblefuls have the Simons sterling silver mark on the inside base of the thimble. The base is indented or knurled. They are shorter than usual. The lettering is ornate.
Simons also produce a 14-carat gold jigger.


SIMONS
ONLY A THIMBLE FULL
40mm


German thimblefuls are not common and this example has the maker's marks of Soergel und Stollmeyer, of Schwäbisch-Gmünd with the ".835" mark for German silver. The maker's mark is the "S" in a triangle, but this is not always present. They closed in the 1960s.



SOERGEL UND STOLLMEYER
NUR EIN FINGERHUT VOLL
.835 SILVER
photo : Mabel Rogers


SOERGEL UND STOLLMEYER MARK


This 2nd type of German thimbleful "Nur Ein Vingherhut Voll" has the maker's marks of SF with the ".925" sterling silver mark. The maker's mark is the sickle moon with a crown, which is unknown to me.



FS
NUR EIN FINGERHUT VOLL
.925 SILVER
photo : Melissa Johnson


FS
UNKNOWN MAKER'S MARK
photo : Melissa Johnson


Made by James Swann & Son, marked with the Jubilee hallmarks of 1977. The lettering is 'Just a Thimbleful'; they are taller than average and there are indentations on the base.
The thimbleful on the right is American, made by Charles Thomas & Sons.


JAMES SWANN & SON
BIRMINGHAM, 1977
JUST A THIMBLEFUL
54mm

AMERICAN STERLING SILVER
CHARLES THOMAS & SONS
ONLY A ...


Sterling silver from Texco Mexico. They are marked '925'. The indentations are handmade and situated quite low down. The thimblefuls have the maker's mark for Rakhu Alecre on the base. The lettering is 'Thimble Full'.


TEXCO MEXICO STERLING SILVER
THIMBLE FULL

RAKHU ALECRE, TEXCO MARK


Sterling Silver by Towle. They also made pewter thimblefuls. These are stamped 'TOWLE Sterling' and lettered 'Just a Thimbleful / Thimble Full' in italics; unusual lettering [see Mauser for identical lettering]. Some examples carry additional marks on the base '925' with a stock number of 'B2'.


TOWLE STERLING SILVER
JUST A THIMBLEFUL
50mm

TOWLE MARK

TOWLE MARK I

TOWLE STERLING SILVER
JUST A THIMBLE FULL
50mm

this example is engraved with the date 1909


P J VOGEL&Co's thimblefuls are only usually made in silver-plate. This one is hallmarked for Birmingham 1964, and like their metal thimbles, they are sized. This is a 1 oz size.The lettering is 'Just a ThimbleFul'.


P H VOGEL&Co BIRMINGHAM 1964
JUST A THIMBLEFUL

P H VOGEL&CO BIRMINGHAM HALLMARK


A rare sterling thimbleful is hallmarked for 1876 and made by George Unite. The 'Just a Thimbleful' lettering is well raised on a finely striated band. It is gilded inside and hallmarked in Birmingham. There is a blank shield cartouche. The base is indented and quite concave.
One Unite thimbleful example has the same shield as the one below left, with a bow and arrow, a quiver and two birds and 'Da Dio Cerco Aiuto' roughly translated as 'From God seek help'.
A similar to the George Unite on the left, this sterling silver thimble on the right is unmarked. 'Just a Thimbleful' lettering is well raised on a finely striated band. It is gilded inside. There is a blank shield.


GEORGE UNITE
BIRMINGHAM, 1876
JUST A THIMBLEFUL
56mm

JUST A THIMBLEFUL


Sterling silver from Texco, Mexico. They are marked 'Sterling silver'. The indentations are handmade and the shape of the thimbleful is squarish with square hand-indentations. The thimblefuls have the maker's mark of Uxmal on the base. The lettering is 'Just a Thimbleful' and there is a size mark of 1˝.


STERLING SILVER
TEXCO
UXMAL
JUST A THIMBLEFUL 1˝

UXMAL MARK


Webster, thimble silversmiths from the USA, also made sterling thimblefuls. Theirs have the maker's mark on the base and are gilded on the inside. The ornate lettering is 'Only a Thimble Full'. The indentations are markedly different from other sterling thimblefuls, having a beaten or stippled surface.


WEBSTER
ONLY A THIMBLE FULL
42mm

WEBSTER MARK


Truly a little gem, this thimbleful is different in two aspects: it stands on its open end and has the lettering in blue on a band of white enamel. Made by Henry Wilkinson & Co., hallmarked in London in 1875, with the lettering 'Thimble Full'.
The thimble on the right is a later thimbleful from Henry Wilkinson & Co - hallmarked in Birmingham 1911. It is as desirable, because of its thistle-shape. Lettered with 'Wee Drappie'.


HENRY WILKINSON & CO
LONDON, 1875
THIMBLE FULL

blue enamelled lettering

H W Ltd - for HENRY WILKINSON LTD
BIRMINGHAM, 1911
WEE DRAPPIE
in the shape of a Scottish thistle


Thimblefuls were sometimes sold in a designated case. This of red leather.


ENGLISH [Gaussen]
1930-1940
JUST A THIMBLE FULL


NOVELTY COMPENDIUM
ENAMELLED ON SILVER [McConnel]
JUST A THIMBLEFULL


According to Dreesman, "Sometimes the prude phrasing of the shotglass was not put on the drinking thimble itself but on its covering, as on the leather etui of this sterling 'Thimble Full' ".


STERLING [Dreesman]
THIMBLE FULL


METAL | WOODEN | SILVER | CHINA | PEWTER | GLASS | PLASTIC

  China thimblefuls  

Holmes shows a comprehensive selection of crested china and porcelain thimbles. Most of these thimbles stand on their open end like sewing thimbles. Makers here include those made in the Goss tradition (miniature white porcelain bearing an armorial crest), but thimbles by Goss have never been authenticated **
Arkinstall & Sons in Stoke-on-Trent (1904-1924) with the backstamp for Arcadian (terrestrial globe with A&S) though other marks exist.
Wiltshaw & Robinson (1890-1910, with a swallow and WR) and Locke & Co of Worcester (1900-1904).
Other china brands include Willow Art China (1903-1905), Porcelle, Sussex China, and Swan China made by Charles Ford in Stoke-on-Trent (1900-1904). None of these crested thimbles are lettered with the wording 'Thimbleful'. Technically this doesn't make them thimblesfuls - do you agree? ** In May 2008, a Goss thimbleful appeared for sale on eBay. The coat-of-arms is for Braemar, Fife. The lettering, which is across the outer apex, is identical to that that appears as below, inside the unmarked Reading thimble. The lettering is for 'Just a Thimble-Full'. The Braemar thimbleful is also the same as the Reading thimble in that the crest is on a smooth raised shield. There is a very clear Goss backstamp inside the thimbleful. So for 75 years it appeared that the Goss factory never made thimbles of any kind - the appearance at this time refutes that!! They can't have been made in any number for this one to have finally surfaced from the 1930s!!**


APEX

BRAEMAR FIFE

GOSS BRAEMAR BACKSTAMP


Other similar china thimblefuls are for "Arms of Reading" and "Buxton". The lettering 'Just a thimble-full' is on the inside rim. The coat-of-arms is on a raised smooth shield. There are no other maker's marks.
See the blurb above on the recently discovered Goss thimbleful, which is identical to these two china thimblefuls - neither bears a maker's mark - the Braemar one does!!
Are they are Goss-made?

ARMS OF READING

BUXTON
photo : Mabel Rogers

--------------------     --------------------
INNER MARK FOR THE SMOOTH RAISED SHIELD THIMBLEFULS


The Arcadian China thimblefuls in the second row have a different lettering 'Tak a Thimble Full'. It is not lettered around the top of the thimble as is the norm on non-china thimblefuls, but printed on the verso.


HOBART

CITY OF LIVERPOOL

HECKINGTON

RUSSIA
1914 war edition

BRIGHTON

VERSO

BIRCHINGTON

--------------------   ARCADIAN CHINA   --------------------

Other Arcadian [Arkinstall & Sons] place names are
NEWQUAY - SANDOWN I.W.


Edwin Holmes lists the following brands of crested china thimbles, made along the lines of Goss china as "Arcadian China" and made by the following thimble makers:


ARKISTALL & SONS [Holmes]


WILTSHAW & ROBINSON [Holmes]

 
WILTSHAW & ROBINSON/CARLTON CHINA
STOKE-ON-TRENT



LOCKE & Co [Holmes]



WILLOW ART CHINA
STOKE-ON-TRENT ENGLAND
A WEE "DEOCH AN DORIS"
RICHMOND SURREY
in the shape of a thistle
with the translucent china
bubbled around the fatter part
49mm


There is no uniformity of lettering for the following china thimblefuls: but at least they have that wording.


VICTORIAN WHITE CHINA
SMOOTH BASE
JUST A THIMBLE FULL
62mm

CHINA with FLORAL DECALS
JUST A THIMBLE FULL
54mm


A porcelain thimbleful, decorated on two sides. Different as it has the lettering all on one side, instead of traditionally around the rim. It is made by Enesco.


ENESCO
ENGLISH CHINA THIMBLEFUL
JUST A THIMBLE FULL

VERSO


More recently [1989] Thimble Craft by Shirley, in England, has made grey porcelain thimblefuls - even some for the Dutch market with 'Een Vingerhoed Vol', which measure 37mm.


THIMBLE CRAFT BY SHIRLEY
JUST A THIMBLEFUL
37mm

THIMBLE CRAFT BY SHIRLEY
EEN VINGERHOED VOL
37mm


METAL | WOODEN | SILVER | CHINA | PEWTER | GLASS | PLASTIC

  Pewter thimblefuls  

This traditional-sized thimbleful is of pewter. The rim is flatly rolled, with 'Just a Thimble Full' with indentations going under the base. The base is concave in the centre.

There are Perfection Pewter thimblefuls that have the lettering 'Thimble Full'. The maker's mark is on the base and they are a very large size.

Pewter by Poole - the lettering around is 'Just a Thimbleful'. The maker's marks are on the plain base with the symbol of a candle stick with a snuffer. Some examples have the place of manufacture viz - Taunton, Mass. So these thimblefuls go against the norm with "Just ..." not "Only ..." for these American made thimblesfuls.


JUST A THIMBLE FULL

PERFECTION PEWTER
THIMBLE FULL
[over two lines]
88mm

PEWTER BY POOLE
JUST A THIMBLEFUL

JUST A THIMBLE FULL


NewburyPort Pewter Towle, lettering around is 'Just a Thimbleful'. The maker's marks are on the plain base with the symbol of a ship's wheel. Tho these are made of pewter they are brass-coloured.
From their website, I have the following information on Towle. Towle Silversmiths was founded by the Moulton family of Newburyport, Massachusetts, in 1690.
They were taken over in 1986 by Syratech Corporation.

 
NEWBURYPORT PEWTER TOWLE
JUST A THIMBLEFUL

NEWBURYPORT PEWTER TOWLE MARK
 


Feldman of Germany had four sizes of pewter thimbles for sale in the early 1990s. They are made in Sheffield. The lettering is 'Just a Thimble Full'.


MODERN SHEFFIELD PEWTER THIMBLES IN FOUR SIZES
JUST A THIMBLE FULL [Feldmann]


The following two thimbles are very similar. Both are Victorian, one being of pewter, the other of silver-plate. Neither have any thimbleful lettering. The one on the right is pictured inverted in Holmes. The monogram shows it is meant to be this way up. The bases are indented. Neither have any lettering, so technically can't be called thimblefuls? Do you agree?


OLD PEWTER
65mm

SILVER-PLATED
71mm
[inverted, Holmes]


Made in England of polished pewter this 2oz thimbleful on the left has "Just a Thimble Full" engraved on the rim.
The thimbleful in the centre is made by British Nobleman Pewterware and has on the base "Made by Craftsmen Sheffield England" and lettered "Just a Thimble Full". Some seem identical, just with diferent "makers names"!! The lettering on all of this batch of thimblefuls is narrower than usual
Then there's the example of one of these thimblefuls being altered by the addition of a handle!!


2oz ENGLISH PEWTER
JUST A THIMBLE FULL

BRITISH NOBLEMAN PEWTERWARE
JUST A THIMBLE FULL
MADE BY CRAFTSMAN SHEFFIELD ENGLAND

42mm

BRITISH NOBLEMAN
MARK

These thimblefuls are by William Adams - and also of Sheffield - most of the pewter thimbles seem to originate here - "Made by a Craftsman" - again lettering associated with this batch of English pewter thimblefuls. The lettering on all of this maker of thimblefuls is narrower than usual, as those above. There are two different maker's marks but the one on the right is double the size of that on the left.


WILLIAM ADAMS
JUST A THIMBLE FULL
MADE BY A CRAFTSMAN IN SHEFFIELD ENGLAND

2 inches

WILLIAM ADAMS
MARK

WILLIAM ADAMS
JUST A THIMBLE FULL
MADE BY A CRAFTSMAN IN SHEFFIELD ENGLAND

4.75 inches
photos: Marilyn S

WILLIAM ADAMS
2 MARKS:- NAME IN ITALICS
+ B OVER P & C
ALL WITHIN LARGE A
INSIDE A CIRCLE


FINE ENGLISH PEWTER
JUST A THIMBLE FULL
MADE BY CRAFTSMAN IN SHEFFIELD ENGLAND

it's obviously been altered by the addition of a handle!!


Other pewter thimblefuls made in England are [left] this "Just a thimble full" engraved around the band and with a heavy rolled rim. This thimbleful is made by Mastercraft Pewter, Sheffield. It is double the usual height of thimblefuls.
The one in the middle is smaller with Justa Thimble Full, also made in Sheffield.
The right-hand thimbleful is Fine English Pewter made for Smyth. It is also a very large thimbleful.


MASTERCRAFT PEWTER SHEFFIELD
JUST A THIMBLE FULL
101mm

ENGLISH PEWTER SHEFFIELD
JUST A THIMBLE FULL
50mm

FINE ENGLISH PEWTER for SMYTH
JUST A THIMBLE FULL
113mm


This pewter thimbleful is of an unusual shape with differently shaped indentations - in a wavy shape? No other details are available


JUST A THIMBLE FULL


METAL | WOODEN | SILVER | CHINA | PEWTER | GLASS | PLASTIC

  Glass thimblefuls  

Slag glass is the residue from completed items in glassworks where iron is incorporated in the glass. The usual colours are opaque, mottled purple to deep blues. Thimblefuls of slag glass are associated with Sowerby & Co of Gateshead, which used the peacock's (?) head in relief as their makers' mark, made between 1860 and 1880. Other maker's were Greener & Co and George Davidson & Co. The bases are indented.


AMBER GLASS
JUST A THIMBLE FULL
66mm

BUY THIS THIMBLE

SLAG GLASS
1900-1930
JUST A THIMBLE FULL
[inverted, Gaussen]

SLAG GLASS
JUST A THIMBLE FULL

SLAG GLASS
JUST A THIMBLE FULL



JUST A THIMBLE FULL
65mm

SLAG GLASS
JUST A THIMBLE FULL

GEORGE DAVIDSON & CO
c.1890
PRESSED GLASS
JUST A THIMBLE FULL


These glass thimblefuls have knobbed or berry indentations.


GLASS
JUST A THIMBLE FULL
43mm

BROWN GLASS
JUST A THIMBLE FULL

COBALT BLUE
JUST A THIMBLE FULL

GEORGE DAVIDSON & CO
PRESSED GLASS
JUST A THIMBLE FULL


These glass thimblefuls have different indentations.


FROSTED
JUST A THIMBLE FULL

unknown bird symbol on the base
for SOWERBY GLASS, ENGLAND
56mm
BUY THIS THIMBLE ON LEFT


This clear glass thimbleful on the left is totally unmarked. It is the green faux leather case that is lettered with 'A Thimble Full'.
The glass thimbleful on the right has Bavaria lettered on the base.The maroon faux letter case is lettered 'A Thimble Full'


CLEAR GLASS
A THIMBLE FULL

lettered on the top of the case

CLEAR GLASS
BAVARIA
lettered on base
A THIMBLE FULL

lettered on the top of the case


In its original case, this clear ridged glass thimbleful has no lettering - the lettering 'Just a Thimbleful' in italics is on the top of the faux leather case.


CLEAR RIDGED GLASS
JUST A THIMBLEFUL

lettered on the top of the case


METAL | WOODEN | SILVER | CHINA | PEWTER | GLASS | PLASTIC

  Plastic thimblefuls  

One has to be careful when purchasing plastic thimblefuls. Unless they are indented to look like thimbles, they could be plastic beakers, dice cups etc.

I have not come ascross any plastic thimbles with thimbleful lettering. Do you have one in your collection?


METAL | WOODEN | SILVER | CHINA | PEWTER | GLASS | PLASTIC

DO YOU KNOW ANY MORE DETAILS ABOUT THIMBLEFULS?
DO YOU HAVE ANY OTHER THIMBLEFULS NOT MENTIONED?
DO YOU HAVE ANY OTHER THIMBLEFULS NOT PICTURED?

EMAIL thimbleselect@bigpond.com TO SHARE YOUR KNOWLEDGE.


References
Cecile Dreesman - Een vingerhoedje…A thimble full… - 1981
Feldmann catalogues - no 8 (Germany)
Elaine Gaussen - Sewing accessories; a collectors guide - 2001
Susan Jean Gowan - Thimbles of Australia - 1998
Barbara Gullers - Antique sewing tools and tales - 1992
Edwin Holmes - A history of thimbles - 1985
Anne Jansen - Just a thimbleful - Only a Thimble full - thimble shapes - TCI Bulletin summer 2004
Denise Jenkins - James Dixon & Sons thimbleful TCI Bulletin fall 2005
Eleanor Johnson - Thimbles and thimble cases. 2nd ed (Shire) - 1999
Tom Lawson - Charles Horner of Halifax - 2002
Averil Mathis - Antique & collectible thimbles and accessories - 1986
Bridget McConnel - The story of the thimble - 1997
Norma Spicer - James Fenton: silversmith and thimble maker etc - 1995
Norma Spicer - Iles: a family of thimble makers - 2001
pre-pro.com


Contributors

Barbara Allen | Dot Andrews | Christine Bailiff | Clarice Birch | Jenny Scharff Bockel | Pat Brown | Sue Burt | Sue Caesar | Sue Christensen | Susan Cook | Helen Cunningham | George Dean | Paul Edwards | Eric | Marion Fagan | Peggy Green | Nan Hackney | Delma Hagen | Laurie Hansen | John Hean | Margaret Hendriksen | Margaret Hickling | William Isbister | Anne Jansen | Jeanette | Denise Jenkins | Melissa Johnson | Wayne Johnson | Gladys Junge | Mary Keyser | Linda | Michael McMahon | Ray Nimmo | Ro Olbricht | Moyra Peckston | Gordon Phillips | Elaine Pollard | Mabel Rogers | Marilyn S | Wolf-Dieter Scholz | Irene Schwall | Helen Shyers | Norma Spicer | Tom Suttie | Erin Titmus | Bas van de Group | Rosalie Webb | Sue Wilson | David Wiscombe | Sandy Woodyard



This listing of Thimblefuls does not purport to be complete or accurate in all aspects. Rather it invites comment and contribution to add to our knowledge. My thanks to the other contributors.

Enjoy!

© Sue Gowan
February 2003


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I do not offer any type of valuation or advice on prices.

  Last updated 7 December 2013  
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