Tagged: Clark’s

Jan 02

American embossed wooden thread reels




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


Oct 17

Clark’s Scintilla


Superb vintage haberdashery box

Well, lookie here! Isn’t this the most wonderful old box of thread ever?

Scintilla, as all you classical scholars are no doubt aware, is Latin for spark and – by extension – a very small shred or tiny amount, an iota. Think of the scintilla of doubt much beloved by TV defense barristers. Where the heck would courtroom drama be without it?

I have a soft spot for verbose old haberdashery packaging, especially when it uses adjectives such as superb (I think superb should be making a comeback soon – that would be superb). There’s something so charmingly innocent and earnest about the pre-soundbite era, and this box has a differently chunky piece of information on each side – take a look over on Flickr to see the rest. My guess is that this particular package dates back to the first couple of decades of the twentieth century, but if there happens to be a haberdashery-museum curator in the house (especially one who knows a lot about Clark’s), or a typography expert, would you please make yourself known to the management? It would be a joy to hear from you.

From scintilla comes scintillate, v.i. to sparkle, scintillescenta. twinkling, scintillationn. twinkling and the wonderful scintillometern. an instrument which measures the twinkling of stars.

If I had a scintillometer it wouldn’t be registering much activity, the reason being that the determined powers of darkness have conspired to extinguish most of the twinkles in the Scrapiana firmament. I’ve sent out for fresh supplies though. Watch this space.

Large range of colors

Scintllating thread

Meanwhile, forgive my wallowing in some anthemic David Gray, won’t you? And may you shine in all you do this week.




May 10

A spot of mending

I’ll be away for a couple of days, doing a spot of housekeeping, tidying, and mending some things that need fixing. Do excuse my absence but rest assured that I’ll be back soon. Meanwhile, here’s a sight for sore eyes: my version of the old TV test card. You can probably tell that I’m a little obsessed by old cards of mending thread. Some of my favourites are tucked in here: the Duldarn lady with her Marcel wave has to be right up there in my top three. Enjoy!

Vintage mending cards

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