At first blush, a thimble would appear to have little prospect of being anything more than a functional object designed to make hand stitching an easier, and safer, activity. Thimbles are small, so they leave scant space for embellishment, and their working end is almost always pocked and pitted. But despite their diminutive size and rather strict limitations, thimbles have been a favorite foil of inventive designers for centuries.

Throughout history, thimbles have been made out of mother of pearl, sterling and plated silver, brass, bone, and even gold. There are porcelain thimbles, wooden thimbles, and thimbles made from carved stone. Some thimbles feature delicate filigree work around their sides, others doubled as holders for tiny perfume bottles and so-called sewing toys.

Among the most legendary are the Fabergé thimbles from the 19th century. Some of these had polished agates or other types of semi-precious stones set in their tops. The sides of others were decorated with colorful enamel patterns or bands.

In addition to thimbles, sewing collectors also look for thimble holders. For example, in the late 19th century, thimbles sold by companies like Sears and Montgomery Ward often came with a holder. Around the same time, Dorcas thimbles from England were sold in handsome little display cases, which are also collectible.

American thimbles were sold in matching, egg-shaped aluminum cases, or cast-iron holders shaped like terriers and other animals. German thimbles rested in holders formed of carved Black Forest hardwoods—birds and bears were popular shapes. There were even thimble holders made from tiny bisque or wooden shoes, as well as equally petite, hand-painted mother of pearl and shell ships, complete with rigging and a loop to hold the thimble.

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Thimbleselect of Australia

Thimbleselect of Australia

Sue Gowan's impressive thimbles reference database. Using the left-side navigation, choose 'Learn More About' and s… [read review or visit site]

Sewing Machine Collector

Sewing Machine Collector

Geoff and Norma Dickens' reference site on vintage toy sewing machines from the late 1800s. Browse the images alpha… [read review or visit site]

Sensibility Vintage Images

Sensibility Vintage Images

An extensive collection of photos and ephemera illustrating changing fashion styles from 1795 to 1959. Includes por… [read review or visit site]

Clubs & Associations

Discussion Forums

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Antique Carved Bone Filigree Pincushion / Thimble Case With Thimble * Circa 1850Fine 19thc Victorian Sterling Silver Enamel Egg Form Thimble Case Box HolderAntique Old Thimble Holder Case Egg Gilt Metal Chatelaine Victorian FloralAntique Gilded Pinchbeck Chatelaine Thimble Holder * Circa 1750Uncommon Victorian? Decorated Mother Of Pearl Thimble From Estate Clearance Antique Sterling Silver Fleur De Lis Child's Thimble By Waite, Thresher * C1890sVictorian Silver Chatelaine - Heart Pin Cushion / Thimble & Needle Case Etui NrQueen Elizabeth Ii Sterling Silver Coronation Thimble & Box, Birmingham 1952Vintage Genuine 14k Yellow Gold Sewing Notion Victorian Antique Thimble No 82 Vintage Stone Top Sterling Silver Thimbles * German * Mid 20th Century1893 Hallmarked Silver Gilt Thimble Case - LondonCharles Iles Patterned Thimble & Thimble BoxSterling Silver Thimble White Guilloche Rose Design Mkd. Norway David AndersonAntique Carved Bone Child's Thimble * English * Circa 1820Charles Iles The Threader Thimble & Original Box, Ca. 1920sRare Silver Trueform Thimble, Bourne Patent 19157, Samuel Foskett, London 1906Tom Edwards Sterling Silver Dropped Rim Pansy Thimble C.1996 - Nftc 10 Anniv.Antique Atlantic Cable Sterling Silver Thimble * English * Circa 1870Antique 19thc Chatelaine Pin Cushion Thimble Holder Aide Memoire VinaigretteRare 1821 Silver Thimble Commemorating The Death Of Queen Caroline Of BrunswickAntique 19th Cent Victorian Carved Cow Faux Bone Silver Thimble Box Holder AcornPretty Sterling Silver Simons Thimble With Birds On A Tree Branch Designed BandSterling Silver Aylesbury 'spa' Thimble, Henry Griffith & Sons, Birmingham 1930Gorgeous Greif Sterling Silver & Enamel American Flag Thimble C.2004Antique Scalloped Band French Silver Thimble * Circa 1900Vintage Genuine 14k Rose Gold Sewing Notion Victorian Antique Thimble No 5Gorgeous Sterling Silver Germany Thimble With Grape & Beaded Designed BandAntique German 800 Silver ThimbleVintage 14 K Yellow Gold Sewing ThimbleGenuine 14k Yellow Gold Victorian Nouveau Antique Fancy Sewing Notions Thimble*** England Enamel Thimble - Windmill ***Vintage Antique 10k Gold Victorian Edwardian Art Deco Sewing Notions ThimbleVintage 14k Yellow Gold Victorian Fancy Sewing Notions No 8 Antique ThimbleAntique Royal Worcester Hand Painted Porcelain Bird Child's Thimble * 19th Cent19thc Victorian Era Thimble Collection 10kt Gold No 7 Simons Engraved Design 3gmAntique French Silver Thimble, Ca 1900Antique Vintage 10k Solid Gold Carved Tree House Sewing Thimble 3g Nr Scrap Use Detailed 1880's Sterling Silver Simons Thimble With Country Landscape Scene Band19thc Victorian Era Thimble Collection 10kt Gold No 8 Birmingham Engraved 3.1gm Lot Of 10 Sterling Thimbles Sewing Thimble Victorian Thimble No ReserveUnique Sterling Silver Simons Thimble With Gold Fish Swimming Designed BandVintage English Pewter Egg Shape Pincushion+thimble *a.e.williams*etched PinkeepOld Silver Thimble By Charles Horner - Chester 1907 Beautiful Antique 1800's Ketcham Mcdougall Sterling Thimble Size 9 Lovely *** Limoges Hand Painted Thimble - Gold Decoration ****** Limoges France Peint Main Thimble ****** England Enamel Thimble - Bird ***Sterling Silver Simons Brothers Thimble With Flower Designed Band Size 9?Sterling Silver Simons Thimble With Mini Panels & Beaded Designed Band1890's Sterling Silver Goldsmith Stern Thimble With Feather Scroll Design BansNicholas Gish Signed Pewter Butterfly Thimble With Attached Colorful ButterflyVintage Beautiful Sterling Silver ThimbleAntique Sterling Silver Engraved Band Thimble By H. Muhr's Sons * Circa 1890sTwelve (12) X Assorted Pewter & Metal North American Souvenir ThimblesThimble Collection Lot Of 17 Metal Plastic Germany Spain Intricate DetailThimble - Glass / Mirror Display Box / Case / CabinetAntique Thimble W/original Box Size 8 Engraved "julia"Antique Waite Thresher Co Sterling Sewing Thimble Floral Design Signed Size 8Vintage Antique Carved Wood Acorn Sewing Thimble HolderVintage Sterling Silver Thimble With Flowers Size 7 5.4g