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Needle holder
  • Needle holder
    Edlin, Martha, born 1660 - died 1725
  • Enlarge image

Needle holder

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1670-1680 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Edlin, Martha, born 1660 - died 1725 (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Embroidered silk and silver threads and card

  • Credit Line:

    Purchased with the assistance of the National Heritage Memorial Fund and Art Fund

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 56, The Djanogly Gallery, case 6 []

Object Type
This needle holder was among the contents of an embroidered casket used by a young girl, Martha Edlin, to store her small personal possessions. She would have embroidered it herself. The end pulls off and needles can be stored inside.

Martha Edlin (1660-1725) worked a series of embroideries during her childhood, including this needle holder, which were cherished by her descendants and passed down through the female line in her family for over three hundred years. We know little about her life, except that she married a man called Richard Richmond and appears to have been a prosperous widow, with daughters and grandchildren, living in Pinner in Greater London at the time she drew up her will.

Materials & Making
Following the usual development of needlework skills in a young educated girl in the mid 17th century, Martha Edlin embroidered a multi-coloured sampler at the age of eight, and a more complicated piece in whitework and cutwork at nine. By 1671, her eleventh year, she had embroidered the panels of an elaborate casket, and two years later a beadwork jewellery case. The needlework skills she demonstrated in these pieces would be important attributes in her adulthood, in the management of her household and in the making, mending and decoration of her own and her family's clothes.

Physical description

Needle holder in the form of a cylinder which pulls apart into two unequal parts. Made of a card core wrapped in shaded embroidered blue silks and silver thread completely covering the surfaces when closed.

Place of Origin

England (made)


1670-1680 (made)


Edlin, Martha, born 1660 - died 1725 (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Embroidered silk and silver threads and card


Length: 7 cm closed, Diameter: 1.2 cm approx.

Object history note

Purchased. Registered File number 1989/1572.

Descriptive line

Embroidered silk thread needle holder, made by Martha Edlin, England, 1670-1680

Labels and date

British Galleries:

The small scale of each piece is further evidence of Martha's sewing skills. She used different stitches and techniques, like the flame stitching on the small pincushion and plaiting on the cords of the purse. [27/03/2003]


Silk thread; Silver thread; Card




Embroidery; British Galleries; Containers; Needlework accessories


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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