The Museum of Haberdashery* – a virtual, crowd-sourced collection of sewing equipment – needs your help. What do you know about embossed wooden thread reels?
I believe that all these North American (mostly) silk reels date from the earlier part of the 20th century. The brands include some of the biggest names in North American silk thread production: Belding, Corticelli, Richardson, Coats, Clark’s (in various guises and partnerships). What they all have in common is that their reels have embossed, dyed ends rather than gummed paper labels. If you can help at all with the questions below, please do leave a comment.
Q1. Were embossed labels a particularly North American phenomenon?
Q2. When and where was factory-embossing of wood introduced?
Q3. Was embossing reserved mainly for silk thread reels?
It would make sense that the same or very similar technology would have been used for other wooden items such as pencils, rulers etc too. Did thread companies ever employ other companies to emboss reels for them? I’m wondering how expensive the process was, particularly in comparison with gummed labels? It would appear to have denoted a premium product – and would have carried the distinct benefit of never detaching from the reel, so there would have been some branding advantage there. From an online conversation with textile artist Hannah Lamb, I understand that silk producer Lister’s in Bradford, UK, decided to invest in such embossing technology, but I haven’t yet discovered further details. I’d be delighted if you would disclose more here, Hannah, if you could bear to!
So, any enlightenment or thoughts you can offer, fellow antique thread enthusiasts, would be really wonderful. Thank you in advance. And may I take this chance to wish you a very happy new year? Here’s a close up of one of the more obscure reels in this selection, produced by Berkshire and Becket, a Massachusetts thread company, and featuring the wonderful slogan ‘Bountiful & Better’. Here’s hoping for a bountiful and better 2017!
* You’re warmly invited to use the hashtag #museumofhaberdashery on social media to share you own sewing collection or interesting sewing-related items you’ve spotted on your travels