We were delighted to have the opportunity to auction the collection of the late Phyllis Savage, one of the founding members of the Dorset Thimble Society, as part of our Summer Sewing Sale on the 22 July 2015. Phyllis was a popular collector whose fascination for all things sewing related began with a humble silver thimble given to her by her Aunt Dot.
Ruth Barlow, one of Phyllis's daughters reveals the story behind her mother's collection...
'In the 1970s, my mother's Aunt gave her a decorated silver thimble. The beautiful little object fascinated her, and soon each weekend was devoted to taking Mum to antique fairs and curio shops in search of more. When Elaine Gaussen started the Dorset Thimble Society in 1985, Phyllis was one of four founder members. She became a committee member and their librarian for many years. Phyllis loved the Society; it was something that she did for herself, not as someone’s wife or mother. She made many friends there and hopefully some pieces will find their way into the collections of other Society members on the day of the auction.
In the early days the meetings were held in the members' houses, moving to hotels as the Society grew. Once dealers began to join, Elaine and Phyllis had fun vying with each other to see who could track down the loveliest Norwegian enamelled silhouette thimbles. Phyllis was also always on the lookout for a Royal Worcester William Powell painted thimble, and would give me instructions on how to identify them too, though I never found one for her, alas.
As many collectors do, she made the transition from collecting just thimbles to collecting sewing tools. Her interests were many and varied, and often did not coincide with her income as a nurse. When she retired in 1999, she had served 44 years as an SRN. She particularly loved sewing boxes, although she never managed to find one that was perfect enough for her tastes which was within her price bracket. She learned the essential skill of haggling, which did not come naturally to her, though many dealers grew to know her and like her, to respect her knowledge, and to appreciate her repeat business if they were fair to her. On a smaller scale she became interested in Stanhopes, pin cushions of various shapes and sizes, thimble and needle cases, and all the other types you will find in this catalogue. Phyllis would want collectors to enjoy these objects as much as she did, and to give them a new home and a new life.'