Rare Charles Horner Dorcas Thimble, Engraved Pattern, Ca 1890
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Rare Charles Horner Dorcas Thimble, Engraved Pattern, Ca 1890:
Rare Charles Horner Dorcas Thimble,
Engraved Pattern, ca 1890
SEE ADDITIONAL PICTURES BELOW
Rare early size 7 steel cored, silver clad, dome top Dorcas thimble with engraved border consisting of wrigglework ovals containing crosses and four oval shaped dots on a reeded background. Vacant cartouche. Marked PAT. (Patent) and 7 (the size). Like all early Dorcas thimbles this thimble is not marked "DORCAS". Slightly off round but otherwise in excellent condition - free of holes, dents, damage and repairs. Height approx. 2.4 cm; internal base diameter approx. 1.6 cm; weight 9.2 grams.
For more information about early Dorcas and other steel-cored, silver clad thimbles see Identifying Steel-Cored Thimbles by Diane Pelham Burn, Dorset Thimble Society No.2 1993 and No.3 1997. This particular design is found on p.7 (o) of the 1993 edition where it is documented as: 'Ovals of joined zigzags enclosing "x" crosses with four clustered dots.'
Charles Horner, the son of a weaver, was born in 1837 (the year Queen Victoria acceded to the throne) and died in 1896. Charles was the founder of the unique Halifax jewellery business and achieved much in his 59 years with his innovation and undoubted marketing skills. He laid the foundations of a thriving business which survived two world wars only to be closed in the late 20th century.
The Charles Horner factory in Halifax produced a wide range of products during the 20th century. These included bangles, buttons and badges, bracelets, art nouveau pendants, brooches and hatpins, cufflinks, earrings, charms and other jewellery and giftware.
Nineteenth century dowagers, dames and daughters often hurt their fingers when their sewing needles penetrated the soft silver thimbles - until Charles Horner came to their rescue. He hit on the brilliantly simple, but very effective idea of sandwiching a strong steel core between an inner and outer decorated silver shell, which he patented in the 1880s. The durable and safe 'silver' thimble was born and was named by Charles Horner as the Dorcas thimble.
THE CHARLES HORNER DORCAS THIMBLE
These steel cored silver thimbles were first granted a patent on June 14, 1884 (Pat. No. 8954). A US Patent was granted on June 11, 1889 (Pat. No. 404,910). The original Dorcas had a domed top whereas the later improved Dorcas had a flat top.
The original Dorcas was made until 1905. Four of the early Dorcas patterns were registered, DIAMOND (1887 - Reg. No. 73626 though this should really be 73624), LOUISE (1889 - Reg. No. 127211), SHELL (1893 - Reg. No. 210799), and PRINCESS MAY (Reg. No. 210800). Non registered designs were: ENGRAVED, DAISY, PERSIAN, STAR and FLORA. The Improved Dorcas was introduced in 1905 and manufactured until 1948 when production ceased. The flat top Dorcas was a further modification to the design introduced ca. 1919 after World War I. Even though the outer and inner layers were made of thick sterling silver Dorcas thimbles were disqualified from hallmarking because of the steel core.
The name Dorcas comes from the Bible. Dorcas was a seamstress who lived at Joppa and she dedicated her life to making clothes for those in need. See Acts Chapter 9, Verses 36-39. In the nineteenth century church women formed Dorcas Sewing Circles to continue her work of sewing for the poor.
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