Question: My photo shows a silver thimble found in an antique sewing basket bought at a flea market. I think the band of red stones are coral, and marks above the band are "925" and "10." The thimble is gold-colored inside and its top resembles an opal or moonstone. I would appreciate anything you can tell me about it. - D.V., Longport
Answer: Important needlework tools for centuries, thimbles were functional necessities used for the production and mending of clothing, household linens and quilts as well as decorative tapestry, embroidery and needlepoint pieces. Quality and design of thimbles have ranged from plain wood, bone, steel and plastic utilitarian models to diminutive works of art fashioned from precious metals and gems.
Although produced worldwide for centuries, most of the thimbles collected today were made in England, France, Ger-many, Italy and the United States. Scrolled, chased, en-graved, enameled, painted, printed and figural, thimbles frequently were exchanged as tokens of friendship and affection, purchased as souvenirs and served as advertising or political giveaways.
Placement of your thimble's marks is typical of those found on examples made by Gerbru-der Gabler, located in Schorn-dorf, Germany from 1824 to 1963. "925" indicates it is sterling silver while "10" is one of Gabler's large sizes. The company's flower trademark, usually stamped on a Gabler thimble's metal tip, often is hidden by inserts such as yours which range from gemstones to art glass. Tiny authentic and faux turquoise and coral cabochons were popular thimble decorations from the 1880s to the 1930s and the golden glow inside the thimble is a gold wash.
If your early 20th-century thimble has no pinholes, cracks or dents and its stones are genuine, it currently is valued at $35 to $50.
Alyce Hand Benham is an antiques broker, appraiser and estate-liquidation specialist. Send questions to: Alyce Benham, Life section, The Press of Atlantic City, 11 Devins Lane, Pleasantville, N.J. 08232. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Letters may be used in future columns but cannot be answered individually, and photos cannot be returned.
1911 Houdini broadside, Carpenters and Joiners Challenge, mint $1,200 to $1,300
Reed & Barton sterling flatware, 35 pcs., "Spanish Baroque" pattern, 1960s $900 to $1,100
Victorian "Veiled Lady" sculptured bust, Raphael Monti, Parian copy $350 to $500
Marx U.S. Marine Corp. transport toy, 20 1/2 inches, original accessories $300 to $350
Oak library index file cabinet, 42 x 18, c.1900, original pulls $175 to $200
"Cider House Rules" first edition, signed by author $160 to $180
Antique crank wall telephone, oak, excellent condition $150 to $200
Turn-of-last-century mahogany Chippendale style corner chair $150 to $180
Efanbee Tintair doll, original box $150 to $165
Leather doctor's bag with instruments,1900-1925 $110 to $135
Framed Victorian lace and mother-of-pearl fan $100 to $125
Pabst "Open" neon bar sign, 21 x 20 inches $75 to $90
Schuman Empress pattern soup tureen $50 to $65
Big Ben alarm clock, 1940s, green, works $15 to $20