Tuesday 22 June 2010

Tunbridge Ware Needlecase

I was talking a little while ago about the interchangeability of charted patterns and Tunbridge Ware was one of the possibilities. Here is a pretty example for you - a Tunbridge Ware needle case. Joined by a red silk spine, the front and back covers are veneered using slices of square rods (think square spaghetti) which are then assembled into a mosaic pattern. It is described as being decorated with mosaic butterflies but I think they are scrolling leaves. Some of the later designs of Tunbridge Ware were interpretations of patterns for Berlin woolwork and you can visit them in the museum in delightful Tunbridge Wells. (The museum also has quite a few of its sampler collection on display!) This needle case measures 2.25" x 1.75" and is lot 362 at the Gardiner Houlgate Bath Auction Rooms in Wiltshire on 24 June - Estimate is £100 to £150 .
Here is a charted pattern for you to make your own needlecase - just click on the colour or symbol pattern for a larger version to save and print for yourself.

Also for auction is this intriguing miniature gilt metal mounted sewing case with mother-of-pearl sides, length 4.3cm. The needle case has a French silver control mark and inside are a miniature pair of scissors, thimble, needle case and sewing implement. It also has a chain with finger ring. Would you have worked with that attached to your finger for easy access of the items? I would be interested to hear your thoughts.

It is lot 510 with Woolley & Wallis, 51-61 Castle Street, Salisbury for auction on 21 July with an estimate of £100-£150.

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  1. That might be a finger ring for someone with large fingers, but it's the sort of object I'd affix to a chatelaine. And that is one tiny thimble... Did you see lot 509--a sewing implement with an attached earwax scraper? How does that make sense? Last time I checked, earwax was not a substitute for beeswax...

  2. It`s so pretty Jaqueline...I wouldn`t use it though. The tools are too tiny for my largish fingers...

    Actually, there is some evidence that they did use earwax instead of beeswax for needlework...I know...UGH!