Historic Fingerhut or Thimble


I am looking forward to venture out again and visit the the Fingerhut museum near Creglingen in Germany. It is the only museum of this kind in the world to date.

The Fingerhut museum is located 1 km outside of Creglingen, driving down the Romantic Road, between Bad Mergentheim and Rothenburg

Researchers have discovered that Thimbles to create beadwork on leather about 30,000 years ago. Those beads have been found to have derived from bones used by mammoth hunters in excavations near Moscow.

Der Fingerhüter (Thimblemaker) from Das Ständebuch by Jost Amman, 1568 (per Wikimedia0

The Fingerhut or thimble has a long history

Der Fingerhüter (Thimblemaker) from “Das Ständebuch” by Jost Amman, 1568 (per Wikimedia)

Below: A very early hand dimpled brass Thimble (per Wikimedia)
Picture by Wikimedia: A very early hand dimpled brass thimble

10,000 years ago finds of pressure stones as tools for sewing.

2,500 years ago Bronze thimbles and needle punches were used in the Mediterranean.

From 100 AD the Romans brought bronze thimbles to parts of Europe.

Left. A very early hand dimpled brass Thimble (per Wikimedia)

Around 1150: In Saint Hildegard v. Bingen writings, a Fingerhut is mentioned as part of her dowry when she enters the monastery.

Around 1500: The first masterpieces were in the in Fingerhut craftsmanship in Nuremberg. Paracelsus discovered the metal zinc, which made it possible to produce brass, which was suitable for deep drawing. This changed the thimble production, it was no longer cast, but deep-drawn from a round disc.

Below: 14th century Fingerhut, a cast brass thimble (picture by Wikimedia)

Below: Deep drawn Nürnberg thimble from 16th century (by Wikimedia)
Deep drawn Nürnberg thimble. 16th century (by Wikimedia)

From 1537: The first Nuremberg “Fingerhüter” order stipulates that the craft is blocked, with the result that only Nürnbergers were allowed to learn this craft, and later were not allowed to leave the city to prevent the revelation of the secret of making the Fingerhut.

Around 1568: Jost Ammann prints a book in which all crafts are illustrated as woodcuts; the thimbles with a new production method. A Quote from Hans Sachs in the dialect of Middle ages:

Aus Messing mach ich Fingerhüt,
Gar mancherly art, eng und weit.
Blechweiß, werden im Feuwer glüt.
Für Schuster und Schneider bereit,
Denn in das Eisen glenck getriebn.
Für Seidensticker und Näterin,
Darnach Löchlein darein gehiebn.
Deß Handwerks ich ein Meister bin

  • Historic thimple, Fingerhut
  • Historic thimple, Fingerhut
  • Historic thimple, Fingerhut
  • Historic thimple, Fingerhut

From 1628: Thimble mills in Holland, later foundation of a “Fingerhüterkartell”.

From 1696: Bernhard v. the Becke from Iser-lohn builds a new workshop for brass thimbles in a water mill in Sundwig.

From 1700: The Dutchman J.Löfting produced thimbles with a machine in London, the beginning of a thimble industry.

Below: 16th-17th century English copper sewing ring (per Wikimedia)

16th-17th century English copper sewing ring (per Wikimedia)
16th-17th century English copper sewing ring (per Wikimedia)

From 1710: A large productions in the Rhineland, Sundwig and Iserlohn.

From 1756: the Swedes tried to get the secret of thimble production through espionage.

From 1763: Empress Maria Theresa succeeded in setting up a thimble manufacturer near Lichtenwörth in Austria, after she recruited thimble masters from Nuremberg and smuggled them out of the city in straw wagons.

Meissen 'keepsake' thimble. 18th century by Wikimedia
Meissen ‘keepsake’ thimble. 18th century by Wikimedia

1824: The Silversmith J.F. Gabler from Schorndorf presented his thimbles to the public after years of designing a “Einwalzmaschine” for the indentations. That was the cornerstone for the largest production in the world, which produced about 85% of Fingerhut market in the world around 1900. Together with the two other companies Soergel & Stollmeyer in Schwäbisch Gmünd and Lotthammer in Pforzheim in southern Germany was once the world center in the field of thimble production. Other manufacturing centers were in France, England and America.

1963: Sale of the silver department of the Gabler company to Helmut Greif in Winterbach, who reorganized this production. Unfortunately, this production was destroyed by arson. Later research on the history of thimbles and 1883 publication of the book: “Talks about thimbles”.

1982: Opening of the Fingerhut Museum in Creglingen by Thorvald and Brigitte Greif

Reference: Fingerhut Museum, Creglingen website

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