What a wonderful word!  It's mere sound can produce a smile.


Tom Thumb once wore a thimble as a hat :

 'A taylor's needle was his sword.

His headpiece was a thimble.

And when he fought, upon my word,

He made the Giants tremble.'

 But oddly few nursery rhymes featured this fanciful word.


Thimbles of some sort have been used since man (or woman) began pushing needles through hides. 

The Metropolitan Museum is said to have a stone example from about 2000 BC. 

A 2000 year old Han Dynasty ring-form thimble has been found in China. 

There is controversy over whether or not the Greeks and Romans used them - although examples exist. 

Thimbles  have been found in England dating back to the 10th century -

their use being widespread by the 14th century, with manufacturing centers in Nuremberg and Holland.


Most early thimbles were made of brass, 'precious metal' thimbles being somewhat rare,

and silver often considered a bit too soft.

However, Elizabeth I is said to have given a thimble set with precious stones as a gift to a lady-in-waiting.

And thimbles have, ever since, been regarded as the "ideal gift for a lady".


 In the 19th century, thimbles also were used as a measure for spirits and gunpowder :

thus the term "Just a Thimbleful" (these 'tot' thimbles becoming the "ideal gift for a gentleman").


We are delighted to present a small selection of English thimbles of silver and enamel,

dating from the time of Elizabeth  I (c1590-1600), to a 19th century leather-cased tot thimble.

They all make my day just a little brighter. 

I hope they do the same for you.


Detailed Images and Information: 






Rare Elizabeth I Silver Thimble

England, c1590-1600, Unmarked

The tapering body engraved with chevrons between two horizontal bands on a ground with irregular indentations,

the top with two concentric circles;

accompanied by notes from the previous owner

Condition : Wear appropriate to age and usage, with small dents and nicks
1” High / . 2 oz.

# 6728










England, c1770-80

Painted with a native figure walking in a wooded landscape within raised scroll-edged panels in gilt yellow enamel,

reserved on a white ground with raised white diaper and scroll patterns, brass rim and tip

Condition : One very thin hairline crack to the white enamel ground on one side and one to the enameled interior;

surface scratches; small chips to the enamel on the lower rim

Illustrated : 18th Century English Enamel Thimbles, Magdalena & William Isbister

.75” High / .1 oz










England, c1800, Initialed AC, Unmarked

The tapering body scratch engraved AC within an arched double gateway, the verso with three potted topiaries,

all above a zig-zag base line, steel top with hand punched dimples of varying sizes

Condition : Excellent for age ; only minor surface scratches

.75” High / .1 oz.










In Original Leather Case

Barnet Henry Joseph & Co, Birmingham, 1876

A “novelty” tot beaker, the small cup in the form of a thimble,

the base enameled in blue "JUST A THIMBLEFUL",

& inscribed "Walter Fergus Esquire, Largs, 19th Jan.y 1877",

in its original silk-lined leather case, marked "Sorley (Late Jaffray) Glasgow" beneath a crown

Fully marked : BHJ, Birmingham,1876

Condition : The cup excellent; the leather to the case worn, as expected

Tot cups are small cups, usually footed as a beaker, and dram size (about two inches). 

These, like stirrup cups, were often handed to riders before or after a hunt. 

This is a “novelty version, footless as are stirrup cups, and meant to be drunk without putting the vessel down.

2.5" High / 1.5 oz






Please click the title, or here, for additional images of this Tot Beaker








We welcome and encourage all inquiries.  We will make every attempt to answer any questions you might have..


 For information, call (901) 761-1163 or (901) 827-4668, or

Email : mfcreech@bellsouth.net or  mfordcreech@gmail.com


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M. Ford Creech Antiques & Fine Arts / 581 South Perkins Road /  Memphis, TN 38117 / USA /  Wed.-Sat. 11-6, or by appointment




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 Small Collection of British Thimbles from c1600-1876, including a Tot Cup