[ Home ]   [ Bobbins ]   [ Pillow Parts ]   [ Lacemaking Furniture ]   [ Lacemaking Accessories ]  
[ Sewing & Needlework ]   [ How to Order ]   [ Payment & Warrenty ]   [ Lace & Bobbin FAQ-tory]  
[ Supplier Links]  [ Bobbinmakers]   [ Museums, Org's, & Guilds ]   [ Upcoming Events ]  
[ Other Names of Lace]   [ Wood Definitions]   [ About me.]  
[Mail: Kenn@Bobbinmaker.com ]

How to determain the age of a bobbin

Hi all,

I have been wondering for a time about antique bobbins. How old does a bobbin have to be before it becomes antique and not just "old".

Also is there any reliable way to tell age on a bobbin?

Julianne Pierson

Dear Julianne,

I do not know where you are, from your e-mail address, but am guessing the U.S.

There are U.S. laws regarding what is qualified to be an antique, and therefore can come into the country under this category. Last time I checked the term "antique" applies to items over 100 years of age. You could check this out with a qualified antique dealer or auction house in your area. Or, call United States Government - Customs Service. There is a listing in phone books for a long distance number in Washington, or usually a local number listing (where items would be flown or shipped directly from overseas to an airport or port). It will not matter whether the item is a bobbin, a piece of lace, porcelain, furniture, etc. - the law applies.

This runs counter to many AMATEUR antique dealers who call collectibles made in recent years "antiques". I do not think that calling an item made in, say 1950, an "antique" would qualify to a U.S. Customs Agent!

As for learning about antique bobbins, I suggest books on antique needlework tools, and also the book the Springetts published called "Success to the Lace Pillow", which deals with classification & identification of 19th Century Midland Lace Bobbins and their makers. ISBN 0-9517157-5-5, 1997. A dealer in lace supplies and lace books should be able to get this for you. As I recall, there are Arachnes who have also written to the list about articles they have written on the subject. Keeping a paper file of such articles is a good idea, if you are interested in being a collector. Being informed will prevent your being "taken in" by misrepresentation by an unscrupulous antiques dealer.

Whatever you do, please do not over-clean, or remove beads from a spangle. If you over-clean a bobbin, sometimes important features are "erased". Some people have bought old bobbins just to remove the beads and use them for other purposes. Dealers may replace the beads with newer ones. So - be careful what you buy!

Jeri Ames in Winthrop, Maine USA

It's good to know that the date *moves* At one point, at least as far as the furniture went, "antique" meant "made before 1863". That *happened* to be 100 years before the "dictum", but didn't offer any consolation for items made in 1875

< call United States Government - Customs Service. >

Uh, ah, be very careful before you call *them* Trawling for drugs is a tedious business; they positively welcome the idiots who want to import antiques (heavily taxed) into this country and *announce* their intentions ahead of time...

< This runs counter to many AMATEUR antique dealers who call collectibles made in recent years "antiques". I do not think that calling an item made in, say 1950, an "antique" would qualify to a U.S. Customs Agent! >

I agree, with you, and the Customs on this one :) I was totally flabbergasted (gob-smacked???), when I saw items, considered "used" in my country, marked as "antique" in this one... I just put it down to the general tendency of the Americans to inflate everything (grades in school and college, crafts promoted to arts, used items promoted to antiques, etc, etc)

Tamara Duvall
Lexington, VA, USA

Well, a dated inscription helps and some people can identify the bobbin maker from his bobbins and thus get earliest and latest dates for the piece.

Diane Whitehead

I have not jumped in until now as everything that has been said I agree with.

If we are to be very accurate even dating of events does not mean that the bobbin was made say in that year. They would sometimes make to order, like "I have just buried my mother and have no spare cash, but I would like one next year" ????) which means that the bobbin could be later. On the whole, dates work fairly well without being pedantic. Political bobbins are most likely to be close to the date as they were advertising for a "dated " event which would not be of any use much later on. The identification of the maker gives a period of time to assume that the bobbins is made within and Anne is correct about the difficulty of "turn of the century" bobbins. They can quite easily be dated as "TotC" but not really more accurate than that.

Archeologically there is reasonable dating but that only says "made before" But the other findings in the "dig" can be a very good indicator.

Brian Lemin

Return to previous page
Go to home page.

This page was created by Kenn Van-Dieren
Copyright © 1998/2007 Bobbins by Van-Dieren; all rights reserved.