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American Decorative Arts
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Thimble Case

1760–1800

Silver

15/16 × 11/16 in. (2.4 × 1.8 cm)
Mabel Brady Garvan Collection
1944.73.2a-b
Geography: 
Probably made in Boston, Massachusetts
Culture: 
American
Period: 
18th century
Classification: 
Containers - Metals
Provenance: 

Either Elizabeth Hubbart (née Elizabeth Gooch, later Elizabeth Franklin, 1698–1768), Boston, or Elizabeth Sumner (née Elizabeth Hubbard, 1770–1839), Boston [note 1]; given to her daughter Emily Parsons Sumner (later Emily P. Robeson, 1805–1893), Boston then New Bedford, Mass., 1828 [note 2]; by inheritance to her niece Matilda E. Paddack (neé Matilda Elizabeth Greene, 1831–1917), Massachusetts then Los Angeles, 1893 [note 3]. With her niece Mabel Longley Padelford (née Mabel Greene Longley, 1872–1952), Los Angeles, before 1937. Francis P. Garvan (1875–1937), New York, by 1937; transferred to the Estate of Francis P. Garvan, 1937; given to the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn., 1944

Note 1. The top of the case is engraved "EH." The mother and daughter who were the first two owners of the thimble had the intials EH at some point in their lives and it is uncertain which commissioned its case.
Note 2. The case is engraved “Emily P. Sumner 1828.” This date does not correspond to a birth or wedding and is likely the year she was given the thimble and its case.
Note 3. Emily P. Robeson’s will, drawn up July 28, 1892, describes “Old Family relics: Old gold thimble in silver case marked Elizabeth Gooch 1714, case marked E.H. & Emily P. Sumner 1828, I give to Maddie E. Paddack” (copy of will in curatorial object file). While the case does not appear to be as old as the thimble, its description as an "Old Family relic" indicates it predates Robeson's early-nineteenth century ownership of it.

Bibliography: 

Mrs. Russell Hastings, “Some Franklin Memorabilia Emerge in Los Angeles, Part II: Textiles, Needlework, and a Gold Thimble,” Antiques 37, no. 3 (March 1940): 125.

Kathryn C. Buhler and Graham Hood, American Silver in the Yale University Art Gallery, 2 vols. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1970), vol. 1, pp. 124-25, no. 145.

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.