All Thumbs

Humans have been sewing since the Paleolithic Era, so it’s anyone’s guess how many times someone uttered the equivalent of “Ouch” while using a needle before he or she got the idea to invent some protective gear.

What we do know is that eventually human beings clued into the fact that some part of the hand should be covered by something tough enough to withstand a sharp prick.

And so, the humble (but mighty) thimble was invented, which is the answer to today’s mystery artifact. We have scant information for this Native American thimble on Maine Memory, a contribution of Norridgewalk Historical Society, but we do know it was constructed from animal skin.

That’s not the only unusual thimble on Maine Memory. This palming thimble, which protects the inner part of the hand and at least the base of thumb (which slips through the hole), was used by sailmakers. This particular thimble was used by sewers in Scarborough around 1850-1870.

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