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Metal Sewing-Thimbles Found in Britain
Author: Brian Read; principal illustrator: Mike Trevarthen. Paperback; 203x273mm; viii+88 pages; illustrated throughout in colour and black & white (26 colour plates). 450 2018. Available both in printed and e-versions. Printed ISBN 9781784919450. Epublication ISBN 9781784919467.
Book contents page
This is the first reference book that deals specifically with all types of sewing-thimble made from copper-alloy or silver, or either of these metals combined with iron or steel, and found in Britain: also included is a seemingly rare gold specimen. Domed, ring-type and open-top (here the latter classed as a new type) sewing-thimbles are described, among them unusual examples and others previously absent from the known record. From Britain the earliest reliable dating for these humble yet fascinating tools is between c.1270 – c.1350, and continues through the medieval and early post-medieval periods and into the 18th and 19th centuries.

Dating from at least the 17th century, subjected to detailed attention is the largely neglected sailmakers’ and sailors’ palm-iron, a heavy-duty tool made from either iron, steel or copper alloy. Also described are the two known types of silver or copper-alloy finger guard, an 18th – 19th century tool used in conjunction with finer sewing-thimbles.

The majority of sewing-thimbles and other sewing-tools catalogued here are credited to metal-detectorists or members of The Society of Thames Mudlarks, who also use metal-detectors. To show constructional detail, each object is archaeologically drawn. This information is essential for metal-detectorists, archaeologists, museum curators, sewing-tool collectors and dealers, or anyone with an interest, seeking to gauge the type or age of any particular sewing-thimble or palm-iron.

About the Author
BRIAN READ was born in 1939 in Essex and raised in East and South-East London. With no formal educational qualifications, in 1954 he left Secondary Modern School and became a trainee millwright and then a trainee groundsman before joining the Merchant Navy in 1955 where he travelled widely. In 1961 he embarked on a fire service career, first with the Devon County Fire Service, then the City of Plymouth Fire Brigade, and finally the newly formed Devon Fire Brigade. While on duty in 1983, in the rank of assistant divisional officer, he sustained an injury that, in 1986, resulted in his medical discharge.

Since leaving the fire service he has worked as a freelance writer. His first book History Beneath Our Feet, published in 1988, was a bestseller and after extensive revision underwent re-publication in 1995 and again proved successful. Between 1999 – 2015 he self-published, under the imprint Portcullis Publishing.

From 1978, metal detecting and its associated study of small metal artefacture, has been his primary leisure interest.



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