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Layette pincushion

  • Place of origin:

    United Kingdom (made)

  • Date:

    1778 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Quilted cotton with cotton fringing, pins

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Pincushions have been in use since at least the 17th century, and were once of considerable importance because pins were used to fasten garments, as well as for needlework and lace-making.

Layette pincushions were generally given as presents to women who were pregnant or had recently born babies. A pincushion was potentially useful as well as symbolic, because even 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

Baby's layette pincushion, of hand quilted ivory-coloured cotton edged with cotton fringing. The front of the pincushion is stuck with hand made pins to show an escutcheon with a coat of arms used by the Pateshall family, with the initials AP above and the date (1778) below. A speckled bird with raised wings is depicted at each side of the initials, and a stylized flower at each side of the date; the pincushion is further decorated in pins with a straight line around each edge, from which tendrils and small flowers spring. The back of the pincushion is plain.

Place of Origin

United Kingdom (made)


1778 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Quilted cotton with cotton fringing, pins

Marks and inscriptions

Probably the initials of Ann Pateshall (née Burnam), likely to have been its original owner. She was the wife of Edmund Pateshall (whose family name was originally Lechmere), and the mother of Edmund Burnam Pateshall (b. 1778) and his siblings William, John, Thomas, Nicholas, Edwyn, Thomas and Walter.

coat of arms
As used by the Pateshall family, showing three voided hearts with three escallops on a chevron between them

Date presented, probably in commemoration of the birth of Edmund Burnam Pateshall of Allensmore Court on 03/12/1778


Height: 20 cm maximum (without fringing), Width: 15.5 cm maximum (without fringing), Thickness: 7.5 cm maximum

Object history note

With B.3, 4-2009, part of Lot 569 in the Sale of the Roger Warner Collection at Christie's South Kensington, 20-21 January 2009. The three pieces combined were bought for a total of £579.38, so notionally £193.13 each.

Patric Dickinson, Richmond Herald, provided the following information:
The arms on the pincushion have been used exclusively by families of Pateshall (and Pateshull). The principal family of the name seems to have been the Pateshalls of Allensmore, Herefordshire. Edmund Pateshall of Allensmore married Anne Burnam on 3 December 1777 and their eldest son, also Edmund, was born...1778....the older Edmund changed his surname from Lechmere to Pateshall but he did this before his marriage.

Historical context note

Roger Warner (1913-2008) was a well respected antiques collector as well as dealer.

Descriptive line

Layette pinchusion, textile and pinwork, showing a coat of arms used by the Pateshall family, made in England, 1778.


Cotton; Cotton fringing; Pins


Stitching; Quilting; Pin sticking

Subjects depicted

Escutcheons (coats of arms); Stylized flowers; Birds


Birth; Children & Childhood


Museum of Childhood

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