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Layette pincushion

Layette pincushion

  • Place of origin:

    United Kingdom (made)

  • Date:

    1838 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Painted velvet with pins

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Layette pincushions were given as presents to women who had newly or recently born babies. They were in theory useful as well as symbolic, because baby clothes in the UK were often fastened with ordinary pins until the successful marketing of the safety pin in the 1870s.

In some areas it was considered very unlucky to give the pincushion before the birth: not only was this over confidence that the outcome would be successful, but there was a superstition about pins and birth pain. 'For every pin a pain' and 'More pins, more pain' were traditional sayings, and some women would remove all the pins, no matter how elaborate the pattern.

Physical description

Layette pincushion of cream coloured velvet, edged with cream coloured silk fringing. The front is decorated with a border of coloured painted flowers and foliage (roses, wild roses, narcissi and scylla) with a cherub in grisaille (tones of grey) in each corner; in the centre is a verse picked out in pins. The pincushion has a plain back and is probably stuffed with sawdust.

Place of Origin

United Kingdom (made)


1838 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Painted velvet with pins

Marks and inscriptions

Angels guard thee lovely blossom/ Hover round and shield from ill/ Crown thy parent's (sic) largest wishes/ And their fondest hopes fulfil/ 1838


Height: 12.7 cm, Width: 17.8 cm

Object history note

Bought in a sale at Christie's (South Kensington) Ltd: £40 was bid for the Lot, which combined Misc.93 and.94-1985, so that each is notionally worth £20.

Descriptive line

Layette pincushion of painted velvet, stuck with pins to spell out a verse; made in the United Kingdom, 1838


Velvet; Pins


Stitching; Painting

Subjects depicted

Scyllas (flowers); Narcissuses; Cherubs; Roses (wild roses); Roses


Birth; Children & Childhood


Museum of Childhood

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