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Pin cushion

Pin cushion

  • Place of origin:

    England (probably, made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1850 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Holly, carved and turned, with replacement upholstery

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mr George H. Clarke

  • Museum number:

    W.14:1, 2-1939

  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 122b, case 2 []

Object Type
This clamp was used to hold a piece of fabric firmly to a table. The fabric could then be held taut while it was sewn by hand. The top of the clamp is fitted with a pin cushion.

Ownership & Use
Until the invention of the sewing machine in the 1850s, all clothes and household linen were hand-sewn and the use of clamps was essential to make the process quicker and more efficient. This decorative example, with animal paws forming the grips of the clamp, was probably intended for domestic use in a female setting, such as a boudoir or sitting room, rather than in a commercial workroom. It may have been a love token since preparations for marriage included substantial amounts of sewing, both for a trousseau and for household linen.

Materials & Making
As they were often given as presents, clamps were made of attractive materials, such as ivory, metal or Tunbridge ware, which were then carved, painted or inlaid with metal foil. Sometimes small engravings were printed or glued onto the surface. Wooden clamps, turned on a lathe like this example, were fitted with pin cushions, containers for needles, bobbin winders, or reels for holding thread.

Place of Origin

England (probably, made)


ca. 1850 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Holly, carved and turned, with replacement upholstery


Height: 25 cm, Width: 10 cm

Object history note

Designer unknown
Maker unknown
Probably England

Descriptive line

Table pin cushion




Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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