A history of the humble thimble

One of a number of thimbles, both modern and historic, from The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust collections.

In this video we take a look at one of a number of souvenir thimbles in the collection. The thimble forms part of a much wider collection of thimbles that are both historic and modern. We take a look at the history of thimbles, their usage and we delve into some interesting facts about the humble thimble.

I hope that you have enjoyed this video but just in case you’re keen on learning more, here are some further interesting facts about the thimble.

  • In the board game Monopoly, first created in 1904, the thimble is one of the eight traditional metal game pieces used to mark a player’s position on the game board.
  • During the First World War, silver thimbles were collected from “those who had nothing to give” by the British government and melted down to buy hospital equipment.
  • Thimbles are given as gifts in Peter Pan, who thinks thimbles are kisses.
  • People who collect thimbles are known as digitabulists.
  • One superstition about thimbles says that if you have three thimbles given to you, you will never be married!

This post is part of a series focusing on the Shakespeareana in the collections of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust which, cover the objects in the collection that relate to the tourist industry that surrounds Shakespeare and Stratford-upon-Avon.

  • Liski

    I’ve got a thimble too. I don’t remember whether I ever used it. My mother did, but it was long ago. I know it’s rather old. My mother, when she was a schoolgirl, took it to the lessons…I’m not sure I can translate it in English properly… Well, we Russians call it “Labour” or “Technology”. On this lessons students are divided into groups. Girls study how to cook and sew, and boys study how to use different machine-tools.

A freely available online exhibition exploring keys aspects of the music in Shakespeare’s plays, as well as music inspired by Shakespeare.