Saturday, October 17, 2009
Mrs. Smith gets around...
Text of accompanying article:
Unique Examples Collected in Many Countries.
Even the women who do not like to sew and men who do not have to, would surely be Interested in examining the collection of thimbles owned by Mrs. J. H. Smith, of Ann Arbor, Mich. From all parts of the world they come, these thimbles, some from far countries like Egypt. Japan and Ceylon, some from shops right here in New York.
Perhaps the prize of the lot is an exquisite thimble of gunmetal with a heavy border of colored gold, bearing the motto, "There is none great but Allah." This was made In Toledo, Spain, though the owner picked it up in France. Some of the prettiest ones, showing by their smallness that they were designed for slender fingers, are the five or six made in France. From Orleans comes one showing the "lily of France" and other symbolic designs. Chartres furnishes a plain silver thimble with a gold border, and a quaint tortoise shell finger shield is a memento of Bourges. A heavy metal thimble with a deep scalloped border was purchased at Nimes. From Mentone, in Southern France, come two— one of them a tiny thing, used, no doubt, by some French child In making her doll's clothes. The French gilt thimble with turquoise setting is manifestly of Venetian workmanship. From Bellagio come two—a massive round-topped one of olive wood and a fragile bit of tortoise shell.
Probably the most ancient specimen in the collection is a bronze thumb ring, meant for use In sewing, which was taken from an old Etruscan tomb near Perugia, Italy. Very characteristic of Naples is a little gilt trifle set with corals, and equally eloquent of Athens Is one with a colored Grecian border. Not pretty, but very interesting, is a big, rough thimble such as Sicilian women use.
The grandmother of the collection is a handsome thimble with a carved flower design. It isn't as old as the thumb ring taken from the Etruscan tomb, but Mrs. Smith purchased it in a little shop in Granada long before she thought of collecting thimbles, and has kept it ever since.
A heavy affair of gold and silver was purchased in Cairo, Egypt. Florence is represented by an odd red agate thimble, and Rome by one bearing a view of St. Peter's in colored enamel. A plain little silver thimble is a souvenir of Mrs. Smith's stay In San Marino, the smallest republic in the world. Perhaps the queerest looking specimen of all is the one Mrs. Smith bought right off the finger of an old peasant woman in Ravenna, Italy.
Then there is a big silver thimble from Gibraltar: a much more artistic silver one from the island of Malta, set with a garland of flowers in gold and a jade ornament at the top. From Colombo, Ceylon, she brought a native thimble, a queer, square looking affair. Then there is a trophy from Singapore, an odd little white bone thimble from Manila, and one of ivory from Hong Kong.
The only thing Mrs. Smith could find in Japan that would fit into a thimble collection was a thumb ring with deep perforations. Heidelberg is represented by a tiny thimble nestling in a little stein; Holland by a beautiful specimen of silver showing a Dutch scene in Delft blue; Innsbruch and Munich by two thimbles bearing the coats-of-arms of those cities, and Interlaken by the most artistic one adorned with green stones.
There are American thimbles in the collection, too, among them being an old one from Salem, with three witches engraved on it.