Published: September 26, 2006
Thimble Collectors International (TCI) held its 15th biennial convention August 9–12 at the Hilton Seattle Airport Hotel and Conference Center, with more than 220 thimble and needlework tool collectors and experts attending. Convention activities included seminars, a sales mall, needle arts fashion show, a thimble road show, an exhibit of members’ collections and an auction.
The highlight of the auction was the intense bidding on a Dolly Varden thimble, in good condition, that realized $2,000. This thimble was made to celebrate the 1902 musical comedy Dolly Varden, based on the character in Charles Dickens’ 1841 novel Barnaby Rudge. Varden was well known as being quite flirtatious, wearing her flashy attire and colorful dresses.
The novel dealt with the anti-Catholic Gordon Riots of 1780 in London, but the musical comedy borrowed almost nothing from the novel except the heroine. It was a huge success, and Stern Brothers advertised the Dolly Varden thimble, along with other jewelry, in a full page advertisement in October 1901. The head of Dolly Varden in her Eighteenth Century bonnet is repeated six times on the band of the thimble.
Dropped rim thimbles are highly collectable, so the $1,025 price realized for a Ketcham & McDougall dropped rim chrysanthemum was not a total surprise, even though it had a hole in the top.
Other sterling silver thimble results included a Simons Brothers Columbian Expo (Chicago World’s Fair) from the 1890s in excellent condition sold for $800; a Simons Brothers A Stitch in Time manufactured in the first half of 1900s, also in excellent condition, $400; a Ketcham & McDougall Pikes Peak in fair condition (somewhat worn with tiny holes), $280; and a Simons Brothers DAR from the 1920s realized $250.
Of particular interest at this convention were sterling thimbles from the Washington area. A Spokane World’s Fair, 1974, sold for $210; a Seattle World’s Fair thimble from 1962 with an English hallmark realized $340 and a Seattle Space Needle emblem from 1962 mounted on a Simons thimble circa 1880–1920 sold for $200.
A lovely tortoise sewing box with a matching emery and waxer and a sterling silver commemorative Atlantic Cable thimble sold for $330.
TCI’s next convention will be held August 29–September 1, 2008, at the Sheraton Society Hill Hotel in Philadelphia. Join TCI and receive quarterly bulletins with great articles and information on needlework tools and the upcoming convention.
For information, www.thimblecollectors.com, firstname.lastname@example.org or 607-723-2065.
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