Dorcas’

Early Charles Horner Dorcas Thimble, LOUISE
Pattern, RD 127211, ca 1889 – 1905

DESCRIPTION

Early size 9 steel-cored, silver clad, dome top Louise pattern Dorcas thimble. Made by Charles Horner ca. 1889 – 1905. Marked RD. 127211 (the Louise pattern design number registered by Charles Horner on June 18, 1889), PAT. (Patent) and 9 (the size) on the rim. Like all early Dorcas thimbles this thimble is not marked “DORCAS”. Not perfectly round at the opening but otherwise in very good used condition – free of holes, dents, damage and repairs. Height approx. 2.3 cm; internal base diameter approx 1.5 cm; weight 8 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 can be found on page 3 (No.4) of the 1993 article where the design is described as: ‘interlocking asterisks’.

The ‘Louise’ pattern is documented by Norma Spicer and Diane Pelham Burn in British Registered Design Thimbles, 2003, p.9:

RD No. 112721 registered June 18, 1889 by Charles Homer of Halifax and made by him. It is known as the ‘Louise’ pattern and shows rows of vertical and horizontal asterisks. This pattern was used by Horner on both his Dorcas and silver thimbles and is a common design.

CHARLES HORNER

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.

Early Charles Horner Dorcas Thimble, SHELL
Pattern, RD 210799, ca. 1893 – 1905

DESCRIPTION

 

Early size 7 dome top steel-cored, silver clad Shell (or Fan) pattern Dorcas thimble. Made by Charles Horner ca 1893 – 1905. Stamped RD 210799 (the Shell pattern design number registered in 1893), PAT. (Patent) and 7 (the size) on the rim. Like all early Dorcas thimbles this thimble is not marked “DORCAS”. Not perfectly round at the opening but otherwise in excellent condition – free of holes, dents, damage and repairs. Height approx. 2.4 cm; base diameter approx 1.6 cm; weight 10.1 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 can be found on page 4 (No.8) of the 1993 article.

 

This Charles Horner design is documented by Norma Spicer and Diane Pelham Burn in British Registered Design Thimbles, 2003, p.11:

 

RD 210799 registered April 18, 1893 by Charles Horner of Halifax. It has a pattern of shell or fan-like shapes, but is usually known as the ‘Shell’ pattern. It was used on both Dorcas and hallmarked silver thimbles.

 

The early Dorcas version was made from 1893 and stamped with the design number. Around 1905 it was replaced with a dome top version and stamped DORCAS but no longer stamped with the design number. A later version of the DORCAS thimble (made from 1919 until 1948) had a flatter top, was stamped DORCAS but did not have the design number either. ‘Shell’ pattern Dorcas thimbles are also documented in Identifying Steel-Cored Thimbles by Diane Pelham Burn, Dorset Thimble Society No. 2, 1993, p.4 and p.12:

 

CHARLES HORNER

 

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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