The first thimble made in England was in 1695 by a Dutch metal worker named Lofting. It was called the ' thumb-bell,' because it was worn on the thumb when in use, and shapped like a bell. The shape eventually changed, but the name, softened into thimble, still remains.
Thimbles are usually made from metal, leather, rubber, wood, glass, or china. Early thimbles were sometimes made from whale bone, horn, or ivory. Advanced thimblemakers enhanced thimbles with semi-precious stones to decorating the apex or along the outer rim. Thimble artists would also utilize enameling.
Originally, thimbles were used solely for pushing a needle through fabric or leather as it was being sewn. However they have since gained many other uses and mythologies. In the 1800s they were used to measure spirits (hence the phrase 'just a thimbleful'). Women of the night used them in the practice of thimble-knocking where they would tap on a window to announce their presence. Thimble-knocking also refers to the practice of Victorian schoolmistresses who would tap on the heads of unruly pupils with dames thimbles. Thimbles have also been used as love-tokens and to commemorate important events. A miniature thimble is one... [continues]
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