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Needlecase and scissors

  • Place of origin:

    England, Great Britain (made)
    Netherlands (probably, made)

  • Date:

    1660-1690 (made)
    ca. 1690 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    unknown (production)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Embroidered silk, velvet and flannel, with glass mirror, silver-plated brass with steel blades

  • Museum number:

    T.424&A-1988

  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, room 56d, case 6

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Object Type
This needle case has been made by assembling fragments of rich dress fabrics which would have been kept for this purpose. Women of all classes of society would have made such needlecases; only the materials used would have varied. Both practical and decorative needlework played an important part in women's lives, in the management of households and in the making, mending and decoration of clothes. Steel needles were essential equipment, and were carefully stored in such decorated needle cases.

Materials & Making
The needle case has been constructed as a folder with leaves and pockets inside. The outside is covered in a silk and linen fabric closely striped with metal strip. One side has a pear shape in semi-relief, with green velvet appliqué leaves. The other side has a pocket containing scissors. On the inside is a mirror, bound with gilt braid; two leaves of red felted wool, scalloped and edged with twisted gilt thread, attached to the case by being sewn onto a piece of pink ribbon; and two pockets covered in a fragment of rich dress silk brocaded with strips of silver thread. Other fabrics which appear in the linings are plain-woven green and pink silks, and unpatterned silver tissue.

Physical description

Needlecase and scissors.
[Needlecase] Needlecase constructed as a folder with leaves and pockets inside. The outside is covered in a silk and linen fabric closely striped with metal strip. One side has a pear shape in semi-relief, with green velvet applique leaves. The other side has a holster-shaped pocket to contain scissors. There is a curved flap. The inside contains a mirror, bound with gilt braid at the edges; two leaves of felted wool, scalloped at the edges and edged with twisted gilt thread, and is attached to the case by being sewn onto a piece of pink ribbon, with two needles still in place. Two pockets covered in a fragment of rich dress silk brocaded with strips of silver thread, and the edges of these also being scalloped and finished with gilt thread. Other fabrics which appear in the linings are plain-woven green and pink silks, and unpatterned silver tissue.
[Scissors] Pair of scissors with handles of silver-plated brass and steel blades. Unmarked. The finger holes have hirsute faces on their outer edges, and looking outwards.

Place of Origin

England, Great Britain (made)
Netherlands (probably, made)

Date

1660-1690 (made)
ca. 1690 (made)

Artist/maker

unknown (production)

Materials and Techniques

Embroidered silk, velvet and flannel, with glass mirror, silver-plated brass with steel blades

Dimensions

[Needlecase] Height: 8 cm closed, Width: 7 cm closed, Height: 13.4 cm open, Depth: 3.5 cm closed
[Scissors] Length: 9.4 cm, Width: 4.5 cm

Object history note

[Scissors] Imported from the Netherlands

Descriptive line

Needlecase of silk and metal thread, made in England, with silver-plated brass and steel scissors, probably made in the Netherlands, second half 17th century

Labels and date

British Galleries:
A skilled needlewoman might have made this little case for herself, or as a gift. She used scraps of silk dress fabrics and pieces of red wool. The case contains pockets for scissors, a small mirror, and other sewing tools. It also still contains two needles, pinned inside. [27/03/2003]

Materials

Silk (textile); Glass; Brass; Steel; Thread; Flannel

Techniques

Embroidered; Brocaded; Velvet; Plated

Categories

Household objects; British Galleries; Textiles; Embroidery; Needlework accessories

Collection code

T&F

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Qr_O10713
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