Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
British Galleries, Room 122b

Needle Case

1860-1867 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This needle case is in the shape of a folded umbrella or parasol. The handle unscrews and there is a hole bored down the centre of the case for the storage of needles. In the handle is a 'Stanhope Viewer', a minute spyglass which shows scenes of famous buildings, resorts, cities or other tourist attractions. In this case it is the Crystal Palace at Sydenham, South London, dating from before 1866 when the tower was burnt down. The image, in the centre of the rod, measures one-thirtieth of an inch in diameter and is seen through the lens (a tiny rod) approximately one-quarter of an inch long and one tenth of an inch in diameter. The end through which the viewer looks is convex in shape to produce high magnification for the very short focal length.

Needle cases were an important component in all 19th century sewing kits. They took many forms and novelties, many becoming collectors' items. Needlework implements with Stanhope viewers include not only needle cases but tape-measure cases and various multi-purpose needlework tools. They were made from the 1860s until the First World War.

Stanhope lenses or viewers were named after the prolific inventor, Charles Stanhope, 3rd Earl of Stanhope (1753-1816). Although Stanhope's lenses made this gadget possible it was not until 1860, when the French chemist Rene Dagron used Frederick Archer's collodian or wet-plate process to make transparent micro-photos on the flat end of the Stanhope viewer, that the invention worked properly.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Carved bone
Brief Description
Needle case made of carved bone, England, 1860-1867
Physical Description
Needle case made of carved bone. Made in the shape of a folded umbrella or parasol. The handle unscrews and there is a hole bored down the centre of the case for the storage of needles. In the handle is a 'Stanhope Viewer', a minute spyglass which shows a view of the Crystal Palace. The lens is a tiny convex-shaped rod approximately one quarter of an inch long and one tenth of an inch in diameter.
Dimensions
  • Height: 12.2cm
  • Width: 1.2cm
  • Height: 4.75in
  • Circumference: 1.375in (maximum)
  • Circumference: 4cm (maximum)
Dimensions checked: Measured; 10/01/2001 by ET
Credit line
Given by Mr and Mrs Hailey
Summary
This needle case is in the shape of a folded umbrella or parasol. The handle unscrews and there is a hole bored down the centre of the case for the storage of needles. In the handle is a 'Stanhope Viewer', a minute spyglass which shows scenes of famous buildings, resorts, cities or other tourist attractions. In this case it is the Crystal Palace at Sydenham, South London, dating from before 1866 when the tower was burnt down. The image, in the centre of the rod, measures one-thirtieth of an inch in diameter and is seen through the lens (a tiny rod) approximately one-quarter of an inch long and one tenth of an inch in diameter. The end through which the viewer looks is convex in shape to produce high magnification for the very short focal length.



Needle cases were an important component in all 19th century sewing kits. They took many forms and novelties, many becoming collectors' items. Needlework implements with Stanhope viewers include not only needle cases but tape-measure cases and various multi-purpose needlework tools. They were made from the 1860s until the First World War.



Stanhope lenses or viewers were named after the prolific inventor, Charles Stanhope, 3rd Earl of Stanhope (1753-1816). Although Stanhope's lenses made this gadget possible it was not until 1860, when the French chemist Rene Dagron used Frederick Archer's collodian or wet-plate process to make transparent micro-photos on the flat end of the Stanhope viewer, that the invention worked properly.
Collection
Accession Number
T.238-1969

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record createdMarch 27, 2003
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