The history of Russian thimble is as mysterious as Russian mysterious soul, there is not a single book devoted to thimbles in Russia, there is not a single museum exhibit either. I know only about one article in monthly historical magazine "Rodina" which I can rely on. This article is named "Every bird has its own manners", it was written by member of London Thimble Society Russian writer Elena Sosna.
We find the first written mentioning of thimbles in Russia according to information of Elena Sosna in receipt-debit book of Iversky nunnery in 1669 when 40 thimbles and 300 sewing needles were bought for the nunnery. Iversky nunnery is located on one of the islands of the Valdai Lake. It was founded by patriarchy Nikon in the XVII century.
The first thimble of the XIV century was found on the Russian territory in Novgorod. Novgorod is one of the most ancient towns in Russia, it was mentioned in chronicles in 859.
The Russian thimble was not the same, as we know it nowadays. First the bludgeon used in fisticuff was called so, then it was the ring which people wore on a thumb of their right hand when they took part in
archery. Since the XVII century thimbles were brought from abroad where their manufacture was mechanized. Thimbles were manufactured in Russia at that period too. In 1632 the Dutch merchant Venius built Gorodishenskie metallurgical factories located 15 km far from the town of Tula. Bronze thimble was found there among other finds during archaeological dig.
Besides their direct function to serve as a finger protection of prick, thimbles were used as decoration. In the XVIII century it was fashionable to wear necessaries, a kind of original container with a set of toilet things or accessories for sewing. They could be large or small. Small ones were a kind of decoration of a dress, which was hung on the chain fixed to the waist. The thimble made of valuable metals and furnished skillfully was usually kept in such necessaries.
In the XIX century Russian jewelry thimbles were made in Veliky Ustiug, St.Petersburg, Moscow and Vladicaucasus.
I spent a lot of hours in Internet studying enormous legacy of famous Russian jeweller Carl Faberge, but I didn’t manage to find any of mentioning about thimbles made by his jewelry firm. And it’s a pity, of course. I looked through a great amount of illustrations of the books devoted to Faberge — the result was the same. Elena Sosna has information that in 1993 it was the press account about three thimbles of this firm and in 1995 it was information about one thimble of skilled workman G. Vigstrem (he worked at Faberge firm).
I have found a thimble of well-known jeweller Faberge!
The first book about Russian thimbles has been published in February, 2005 by Elena Sosna.
Thumb thimbles of Golden Horde of XIII-XIV centuries by V.N.Kleshchinov (Moscow).
Author Irina Sotnikova.
Sosna E. "Every bird has its own manners".
If you want to use this information fully or partly active reference to the site "Russian thimbles" is obligatory.
© Irina Sotnikova, 2004