Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Collecting Thimbles

On my website I have a page where I post eBay listings for thimbles. I started this page right after Thanksgiving because I watched some of the best examples of American thimbles come up for sale and I was enjoying following the auctions. I have no financial interest in the listings I post, but I love to collect and like most collectors, I love a bargain.

There was a time when I spent untold hours shooting photos and writing about thimbles and the effort resulted in my book, American Silver Thimbles. At the time the book was published, thimbles were substantially more expensive than they are today. Thimble collecting reached a feverish pitch for some of the iconic American silver thimbles and prices then were sometimes more than 4-6 times what I saw them fetch this past Christmas season (with some notable exceptions of course).

Yesterday I saw a prime example of fallen glory: a little Columbian Exposition thimble sold for $89.89. Under $100.00. An unheard of low price back in the 1980's-1990'a.

I also remember well the days the Simons Bros. 'Stitch in Time' thimble fetched over $700.00; this past Christmas one went for $128.00.

Why have thimble prices fallen? I would guess a series of reasons.

Several substantial thimble collections have come back on the market and eBay has made comparisons more efficient; we know, for example that 3 or 4 Stitch in Time thimbles came on the market all in a month's time and we could compare the prices they fetched. We also found out there were likely more of them than we thought.

At the height of a collector fad, the prices soar beyond expectation, then when the fad dies off, the prices fall lower than we might imagine.

Sometimes a poorly photographed and written eBay listing results in a bargain price. I took advantage of this factor within the last month: I found a thimble I have always wanted, at a bargain price because the photo was terrible and the write up very vague. I almost missed the listing altogether, clicked my heels when I found it and it is proudly sitting in my thimble case now.

For years after I wrote American Silver Thimbles I didn't pursue thimbles. I don't like to search for collectibles in the midst of a fad; I would rather look for something not in favor. So when, quite by accident I rediscovered thimbles at much more reasonable prices all these years later, I thought the time had come to see if I could fill in some holes in my collection.

I have had a great time posting thimble auctions on my website and indulging in a few of the thimbles for myself.

Will thimbles ever reach their highest prices again? I have no way of knowing and I don't think it matters. I am not buying these thimbles as an investment, just for the pleasure they bring. Thimbles have a rich and interesting history and the workmanship and quality of the designs are often wonderful. I marvel at how much the thimble-makers managed to fit on the band of a thimble. I have always loved needlework tools in general because they are working tools, often with beautiful designs.

And right now another attractive feature about a thimble collection: it doesn't take much room.

Gay Ann

P.S. On my website I have kept photos of past thimble auctions and the prices they fetched as a record of comparison. I will continue to add to the photos as the auctions finish.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

February continues....

February, one of my favorite months, continues, and I am celebrating this evening! I am celebrating because I just finished writing the last of the instructions for my hearts sale which will start as soon as I get it all together.

I usually post everything at one time, but this year I've been doing it differently. For several days I have been posting a heart or two from my past. I have been stitching lots of hearts for a long time now, and tomorrow morning the 9th and 10th will find their ways to my website.

This year I succeeded in stitching 5 new hearts and those are the instructions I have been working on since I returned from Callaway School of Needlearts on January 19. Finally (FINALLY!) I just put the last of the graphs into place and the last heart is set to go.

The last heart, which is really the first heart, was a bit of an adventure. I intended it to be one sort of heart and it just cried out to be another sort of heart. One cannot deny its place, so I let this heart follow its bliss (thank you, Joseph Campbell, even when it comes to needlepoint hearts).

So the heart won, and I am thinking of breaking tradition and posting it all on its own so that I can write about it. I am considering giving it pride of place for a couple of days before I introduce the other four new hearts. The odd thing is, for years I intended to make the heart that this one turned into, I just didn't intend this heart to become the one it did. Convoluted, isn't it, and I am not sure I am making good sense.

What does make sense to me is the idea that a design tells me where it wants to go. I have said for so long: the skill doesn't come in predicting what will work, which thread will work or which stitch will work. The skill comes in learning to watch a design and see where it wants to take me. I say this all the time and that's why the little heart won.

I've snapped a few photos; I just haven't had time to stuff them into MacSoph and have a look at them. If they turned out well, watch for my first new heart in a couple of days. After I finish posting my old hearts.

I guess the frames on my home page have been empty long enough now.
It is almost time to fill them.

Gay Ann

Saturday, February 05, 2011

February 2011

I hadn't realized how much time had passed since I last posted on my blog: the whole month of January has gone by and here it is, nearly the end of the first week in February 2011. As I have said many times, I am still back in 1999 afraid about Y2K. Do you know there are 10-year-olds who weren't born yet in Y2K? Oh my, old age has set in....

I love February. I love it because it is the most GirlieGirl month on the calendar. In addition to being a GirlieGirl month, I see the days are getting a bit longer now and by the end of February they will be that much longer and spring is just around the corner. I know, I know, the country is freezing cold, but hope of spring is just awakening.

Back to GirlieGirl. What is more GirlieGirl than lace and hearts and a yummy box of chocolates and a bouquet of favorite flowers.
When I think of these things, I think of February and Valentine's Day.

I hadn't realized how many hearts I have stitched until I started looking for them and through them on February 1. I have a drawer full of them, and all intentions of making more of them. In fact, I have made 5 new ones for my Hearts Sale on my website and I am scurrying now to finish the instructions for them. In addition I am just starting a gallery of 10 of my hearts from the past.

MacSoph (my computer) and I have been pounding away, building the gallery and the first of My Hearts from the Past will show up on my website tomorrow morning.

I will start my sale as soon as I have finished writing instructions. I do have one small problem: I didn't finish in time to have Ann&Co proof the instructions, so I had a choice: cancel the sale or ask people to report mistakes as they find them and I'll post them on my website. I put the choice to several of my friends and 100% they voted to have the sale and report mistakes.

So I am game to try this, albeit with some hesitations. I will have an extra go through the instructions but I am not good at proofing my own work. I learned this years ago when I was writing books. I'd pour over and over the ts but not find anything.
I never could believe what the copyeditor found!

We'll see how it goes.

In any event, I am pleased with the new crop of hearts, in fact I am ready for more! I want to take the opportunity to start the first one for next year's hearts sale tonight at Date Night.

Yes, Saturday Night is Date Night: a Date with my Needle. Perfect time in this GirlieGirl month to start something over the top Girlie Girl. I think something with pulled thread would be just the ticket!

Gay Ann