For a long time I've been promising to post a sale of my book, American Silver Thimbles.
I did so this morning on my website.
Quite often people write to me with all sorts of thimble queries and I try to answer them as time allows. Over the years, at the top of the list has come the question: 'do you have any copies of your book at a reasonable amount of money?' Finally I decided I have read this too often, so I typed 'American Silver Thimbles' into a book query on Amazon.com and had quite a shock.
The cheapest copy I found was $255.00, the most expensive $350.00.
It was then I decided I had better sell some copies, so I posted them at the book's original price of $47.95 plus $6.00 priority shipping. I am hoping that fledgling thimble collectors to whom I have long promised copies will be able to have a copy now.
American Silver Thimbles is valuable in this sense: it is a record of American silver thimbles from 53 collections at what I think of as the height of thimble-collecting frenzy more than 20 years ago. At just about the height of the frenzy, I visited many remarkable collections, shot so many rolls of film, then stood in a dark-room converted from a bathroom and processed and printed all the photos for the book.
So many of the collections have since been broken up that I look back and think to myself it was a great time to shoot so many thimbles. I doubt I could assemble the collection today.
After I wrote American Silver Thimbles, thimbles were at their height. Good ones were scarce and fetching all-the-time higher and higher prices.
I had never been a singularly devoted thimble collector; I had bought them, but only as one of many needlework tools, and when they continued to fetch higher and higher prices, I gave up looking for them.
For the 20 years that followed my book, I transitioned into teaching needlework full time, and I more or less forgot about collecting thimbles.
Then last November, when I was surfing eBay for interesting auctions to post on my website, I came across some remarkably wonderful American thimbles for auction. I followed along through the Christmas season and was amazed to see the high quality and relatively low prices of the thimbles that 20 years ago had been so sky high in price.
And guess what: I became interested in thimbles all over again. I am at heart a contrarian when it comes to shopping for antiques. I don't believe in shopping for things when they are at the height of fashion.
Last Christmas I began looking back through American Silver Thimbles and just for fun, I began ticking off the thimbles I'd found on eBay. I had a great time! It was just like visiting old friends who has slipped out of my life for a while.
Of course I bought a few of them. I think my favorite finds were two: I bought the Liberty Bell thimble at a fraction of its former price and I bought a very rare Untermyer Robbins thimble of two lions. Finding any UR thimble was, in the old days, a happy occasion; finding a highly decorative one a joy indeed.
An old hobby renewed. Now I look every week to see if some interesting thimbles turn up.
And now I am hoping maybe a new generation of thimble collectors will be inspired to enjoy these tiny little treasures.