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I understand his frustration. Very little information is available on bobbins themselves. I faced the same problem when I first started.
Midlands is a style of decorated bobbin that developed in the Midlands area of the U.K. They have a small head with a lip attached leading into a thin neck where the thread is stored. The shank can carry a variety of decorations and end with a tail that is pierced to accept a wired bead spangle.
Continental bobbins differ greatly from Mids. Generally the neck is sandwiched between two wafer shaped pieces. The wafer is wider then a Midland head as well. The shank is thin at the beginning and continues down to a bulbuos shape at the tail. The bulb shape will dictate which continental style it is.
While we have settled on a pseudo-standard of 4 inch over all length, and 1/4 inch diameter shank, that was not always the case. Again, a lot depended on who made them and what the material was. Older bone bobbins tended to be thicker, but the bone available then was thicker then now. Individual areas developped their own tastes and preferences, so older bobbins can be up to 3/8 inch on either side of the 4 inch mark. Whittled bobbins can be off the scale. :-) Mass production created a standard size for manufacturing. You develope a rythum when lacing, and odd length or weighted bobbins in the pile can throw that off.
If he is selling his bobbins, tell him not to worry. There are lacers out there that prefer them short. I have found that the bobbin I dislike the most will still find a home. I would recommend getting David Springetts "Turning Lace Bobbins" or David & Christine's " Success to the Lace Pillow" Both are excellent aids, and available through most of the suppliers.