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Copyright © 2007 Carolyn M Meacham This is a continuation of my last newsletter on the subject of figural needlework tools. There are many more examples than I would ever be able to present in this short space, but I’m going to include pictures of some of the pieces from my collection and some that have passed from my collection to other happy homes. Remember the definition of figural is (loosely) items that look like something else that are at least partly modeled in the shape of the item being represented. Scissors are a favorite collectible of mine so I’m going to start there. There are an amazing number of scissors with bows and shanks shaped to resemble animals, birds, plants, symbols, mythological creatures, human figures and buildings. Some even incorporate the blades into the shape of the object being represented, such as the famous stork scissors (Fig.1). I’m leaving out scissors that have floral designs or pictures of kings, queens, etc. as they are not generally considered to be truly figural. Figural Needlework Tools * Scissors, Stilettos & Pincushions Figure 1. Stork Scissors 1: Blued steel with gilded legs, Marked “Germany” c.1900. 3 3/8” long (8.6 cm) 2: Once gilded, unmarked, German c.1910. 2 1/2” long (6.4 cm) 3: Miniature, German c.1920s. 1 5/8” (4.1 cm) 4: Hand filed steel of high quality, Marked “J.Rogers & Sons”, English c.1860. 3 1/4” long (8.3 cm) 5: Traces of gilding, German c. 1900. 3 5/8” (9.2 cm) 6: Hand engraved details, French c.1880. 3 3/8” long (8.6 cm) 7: Marked “BT” for Bartolomeo Terzano, Italian c.1860. 4 1/2” long (11.4 cm) 8: Hand engraved details, French c.1880. 3 5/8” long (9.2 cm) 9: Hand chased steel, English c.1870. 4” long (10.2 cm) 10: Hand chased steel, English c.1870. 3 1/4” long (8.3 cm)

Figural Needlework Tools * Scissors, Stilettos & Pincushionselegantarts.com/Newsletter4.pdf · Figural Needlework Tools * Scissors, Stilettos & Pincushions Figure 1. Stork Scissors

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Text of Figural Needlework Tools * Scissors, Stilettos & Pincushionselegantarts.com/Newsletter4.pdf ·...

  • Copyright © 2007 Carolyn M Meacham

    This is a continuation of my last newsletter on the subject of figural needlework tools. There are many moreexamples than I would ever be able to present in this short space, but I’m going to include pictures of some of thepieces from my collection and some that have passed from my collection to other happy homes. Remember thedefinition of figural is (loosely) items that look like something else that are at least partly modeled in the shape ofthe item being represented.

    Scissors are a favorite collectible of mine so I’m going to start there. There are an amazing number of scissors withbows and shanks shaped to resemble animals, birds, plants, symbols, mythological creatures, human figures andbuildings. Some even incorporate the blades into the shape of the object being represented, such as the famousstork scissors (Fig.1). I’m leaving out scissors that have floral designs or pictures of kings, queens, etc. as they arenot generally considered to be truly figural.

    Figural Needlework Tools * Scissors, Stilettos & Pincushions

    Figure 1. Stork Scissors 1: Blued steelwith gilded legs, Marked “Germany”c.1900. 3 3/8” long (8.6 cm) 2: Oncegilded, unmarked, German c.1910. 2 1/2”long (6.4 cm) 3: Miniature, Germanc.1920s. 1 5/8” (4.1 cm) 4: Hand filed steelof high quality, Marked “J.Rogers &Sons”, English c.1860. 3 1/4” long (8.3cm) 5: Traces of gilding, German c. 1900.3 5/8” (9.2 cm) 6: Hand engraved details,French c.1880. 3 3/8” long (8.6 cm) 7:Marked “BT” for Bartolomeo Terzano,Italian c.1860. 4 1/2” long (11.4 cm) 8:Hand engraved details, French c.1880. 35/8” long (9.2 cm) 9: Hand chased steel,English c.1870. 4” long (10.2 cm) 10:Hand chased steel, English c.1870. 3 1/4”long (8.3 cm)

  • Figure 5. Steel scissors with running cat, French c. 1900. 3 7/8” long (9.8 cm)

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    Fish are a popular subject for scissors and they range from the English swordfish (Fig.2) to the elegant Palais Royaldolphins carved from mother of pearl. (Fig. 3)

    Figure 2. Steel Swordfish Scissors,Marked “Rd.154232” which is aBritish design registration numberfrom 1890. 4 7/8” long (12.4 cm)

    Figure 3 (Left). Motherof pearl Palais RoyalScissors with dolphinmotif, French c.1820. 37/8” long (9.8 cm)

    Figure 4 (Right). Gildedsilver scissors with fig-ural fish shanks andsheath, English c.1830.3 3/4” long (9.5 cm)

    Many forms of animalsare represented in scis-sors design and manybirds other than thestorks. The kitty scis-sors in Figure 5 are aFrench pair from theearly 20th centurywhen figural scissorsseemed to come in thewidest variety of styles.

  • Figure 6. Very fine steel scissors with exoticbirds, English c.1850. 3 5/8” long (9.2 cm)

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    Figure 7. Solid silver chatelaine scissors withsheath & chain, Dutch c.1870. 4” long (5 cm)

    Figure 8. Figural steel scissors from left: Eagle, Swan, Owl, Butterfly & Salem Witch, Germanc.1890-1910. 2 3/4” (Eagle) to 3 7/8” (Witch) long (7 cm - 9.8 cm)

    Birds other than storks are also seen on both steel and silver scissors. Some examples include owls, eagles, peli-cans, swans, parrots and exotic birds with long tails that trail into the scissors’ bows.

  • Figure 13. Lion Scissors in .833 Cast Silver,Dutch hallmarks, c. 1850

    Figure 9. Steel Cathedral Scissors,all hand filed and engraved, Frenchc. 1790. 3 3/4” long (9.5 cm)

    Needle Cases

    Figure 9. Painted woodmushroom thimble holder,German c.1900. 2” high(5cm).

    Figure 10. Crucifixion Scissors,steel with gilded bows, Spanish c.1890. 3 3/8” long (8.6 cm)

    Figure 11. Eiffel Tower Steel Scissors,French c. 1900. 3 1/2” long (8.9 cm)

    Figure 12. Fox & Grape Scissors from Aesop’s Fables, French c.1850. 3 3/4” long (9.5cm)

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  • Figure 15. Mother of pearl Palais Royal scissors with ahorn of plenty design, French c.1820. 3 5/8” long (9.2 cm)

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    Figure 14. Gold Damascene work on steelscissors, shanks in the form of a woman’s legs.English c. 1750. 3 1/2” long (8.9 cm)

    Figure 16. Sterlingswordfish stiletto bySimons Bros., Ameri-can c.1900. 3 1/2”long (8.9 cm)

    Stilettos often had figural handles and, if the subject allowed, the point was part of the figural design. The mostfamous is probably the Simons Bros. swordfish stiletto (Fig. 16). Another American silver design was an augershell stiletto (Fig. 17). Stilettos with figural handles were done with motifs too numerous to mention. Flowers werea popular subject (Fig. 18) as well as hands, birds, shells, fish, arrows, crowns, acorns, animals and heraldic motifs.

    Figure 17. Sterlingauger shell stiletto,American c.1900. 3”long (7.6 cm)

  • Figure 19. Left: Silverplated swan stiletto, Frenchc.1850. 4 1/2” long (11.4 cm). Right: Carved bone birdstiletto (detail), English, c.1860. 3 7/8” long (9.8 cm)

    Figure 18. From left: 1: Sterling flower stiletto with motherof pearl point, English c.1860. 3 3/8” long (8.6 cm) 2: Steelflower scissors, French c.1850. 3 1/4” long (8.3 cm) 3: Ster-ling flowering vine stiletto, Chinese c.1890. 3” long (7.6 cm)

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    Figure 21. Sterling Fish stiletto, Simons Bros., American c.1900. 3 3/8” long (5.7 cm)

    Figure 20. Carved bone fish stiletto, likely sailor’s work, English c.1840. 4 5/8” long (11.7 cm)

    Figure 22. Carved hand stilettos.Top: Ivory Dieppe work, Frenchc.1820. 2 1/4” long (5.7 cm) Bot-tom: Carved bone, English c.1850.3” long (7.6 cm)

  • Figure 23. From left: 1: Sterling arrow stiletto/ bodkin, English c.1860. 2 3/4”(7 cm) 2: Mother of pearl arrow stiletto, English c.1880. 3 1/2” (8.9cm) 3:Mother of pearl flower stiletto, English c.1860. 3 1/4” (8.3 cm) 4: Mother ofpearl snake stiletto, French Palais Royal c.1820. 4 1/8” (10.5 cm)

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    Figure 24. Hand painted,beaded and embroidered silkviola pindisc, English c.1800.3 3/4” long (9.5 cm)

    Figure 25. Satinwood pear pin poppet, Engl. c.1790. 1 5/8” long (4.1 cm)

    Pincushions come in perhaps the largest variety of figural examples. There’s almost nothing in the world that can’tbe represented with a cushion stuck on top. A book could easily be done on this subject alone. There are two majordivisions of pincushions. One is the style most in use today where the pins stick up and can be easily accessed bythe seamstress. The other is the pindisc or pinwheel variety. These became popular when sewing bags were in

    fashion (late 18th century) and pinheads would snag the fabric of thebag and the silks inside. These cushions were flat with the cushionbeing like a sandwich between two layers of bone, ivory, silver, gold,ebony, horn, tortoise shell, cardboard, etc. The pins were pushed inflush with the fabric and it could then be dropped into a work bag.Many were handmade of silk and decorated with painting or embroi-dery in the early 19th century. (Fig. 24)

    An earlier form of pincushions designed to go into workbags werepin poppets. These little pinchshions had a top that screwed or pusheddown over the cushion to protect the pins. Most of these date to thelate 18th and early 19th centuries. They were often shaped like fruitssuch as apples or pears. (Fig. 25)

  • One style of figural pindisc that was popular in the early 19th century has flat sides made of ivory. The sides areusually pierced (though sometimes painted) amd they come shaped in a wide variety of shapes. Fig.26 shows afew of the many styles.

    Figure 26. Ivory pindiscs in the form of a cottage, crown, wheelbarrowand bellows, English c.1820. 1 3/4” to 2 1/2” long (4.4 - 6.4 cm)

    Baskets are a natural shape for pincushions so it’snot surprising that many basket forms have beenused for them over the years. Some are actuallywoven of reeds and grasses and others are fash-ioned of gold, silver, ivory, bone, vegetable ivoryand many other materials (Fig 27-28). Other of-ten seen pincushion shapes include urns, barrels,pails, buckets, kettles and shoes.

    One of the most popularly collected forms of fig-ural pincushions are the ones in animal shapes.They also come in most any material and areamazing in their variety. The Victorians mademany of a dull lead colored metal popularly calledpot metal. These were silverplated or gilded whennew, but most have lost the plating and revertedto their original grey color (Fig 29).

    Figure 27. Left: Sterling pincushion by Joseph Taylor, Englishc.1820. 1 3/8” high (3.5 cm) Right: Carved ivory pincushion,English c.1850. 2” high (5.1 cm)

    Figure 28. Left: Gilded sterling pincush-ion by Joseph Taylor, English c.1820. 1”high (2.5 cm) Right: Sterling filigree pin-cushion, English c.1800. 1” high (2.5 cm)

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    Animals in a seemingly endless array were made in sterling silver during the Edwardian era. Most of the moreinteresting ones are English and have hallmarks ranging from about 1901-1912. (Fig. 30) Some of these can sellfor thousands of dollars if the animal or design are rare enough.

    Figure 30. Sterling pincushions styles as various birds and animals, English c.1900-1910.

    Figure 29. Pot metal pincushions in the form of a lion and fanciful fish, English c.1890. Lion is 3 1/4” long(8.3 cm) and the fish is 2 1/2”high (6.4 cm).

  • Animals were also often made of brass (Fig. 31), china (Fig. 33) and carved of wood or bog oak. Sea shellsbecame a popular material for pin cushions and other sewing items in the mid 19th century when railroad travelbrought the seaside resorts within easy reach of the average person (Fig. 32).

    Figure 31 (Left). Brass rooster has holes in back for holding thepins, English c. 1880. 4” high (10.2 cm) Figure 32 (above). Scallopshell pindisc, English c.1860. 2 1/4” in diameter (5.7 cm)

    Figure 33. Left: China pincushion styled as a rabbit, American c.1950.3 3/4” long (9.5 cm) Right: Porcelain swan pincushion by RoyaleStratford, English c.1990. 3” long (7.6 cm)

    Figure 34. Embroidered and beaded pocket watchpindisc (shown both sides and edge with pins), Englishc.1800. 1 3/4” in diameter (4.4 cm)

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