I have always been attracted to good quality English china and Coalport bone china thimbles are no exception. Like Caverswall thimbles, they have a very identifiable and distinctive shape. Coalport thimbles have domed apexes with ‘strong indentations’ and rarely have gold-painted rims. The rim is flared and the china is slightly chunky, not being made of fine bone china. I am sure you too will recognise a Coalport thimble by its shape, once you have looked at this page!
Coalport China was founded in 1795 by John Rose and Edward Blakeway, tho the 1750 date appears as part of their backstamp. The Coalport China Museum in Ironbridge is the site of the Coalport Pottery at Colebrookdale, Shropshire. The works was moved to Stoke-on-Trent Staffordshire, known as The Potteries, in 1926. Coalport joined the Wedgwood Group in 1967 and operated out of the Wedgwood site at Barlaston, where they had their own manufacturing unit and their own range of backstamps. With the liquidation of Waterford/Wedgwood in January 2009, I have no idea what will happen to the production of Coalport china.
A tourism thimble showing theCoalport Museum
According to John von Hoelle, Coalport made thimbles during the nineteenth century but they were not marked. Bridget McConnel of the Thimble Society has identified the following nineteenth century handpainted thimbles as Coalport from the painting style. The earliest modern collectable thimbles date from 1978, which coincides with the start of modern thimble collecting. They were not a prolific thimble producer and thimbles are no longer being made. Well that is until 2007, when a much thinner bone china thimble was used than previously and their gorgeous applied flowers, are being made.
19th C handpainted thimbles attributed to Coalport
A lot of confusion has arisen over the years over the naming of Coalport thimble designs. Like other china thimble manufacturers, Coalport would have used the pattern names from the rest of their product range. Many of the thimbles are named inside, but when not, the names often are lettered on the Coalport cardboard thimble boxes. It is always useful to refer to catalogues when Coalport thimbles were in production. I have tried to include examples of the names lettered inside the thimbles for each theme – and photos of the verso where appropriate and helpful (on eBay some thimbles only show one view and this can be confusing).
I really love the font Coalport have used in their lettering inside their thimbles – strong and bold and simple!
Coalport have included thimbles in their range with finely handmade, applied handpainted flowers and the series known as “Flora Britanniae Collection”, is a good example of this. Being handmade, there will always be variations in these delicate flowers. It’s difficult to find out how many are in this set, as to me, the five illustrated isn’t a definitive number in terms of Coalport thimble set numbers.
There is a large series illustrating the flowers for the 50 American states – with a state flower applied to each, and the state’s name on the verso. I have now found photos for 34 of the 50 thimble set. Please help with the missing thimbles.
In 2016 (12 years after I put his topic up for collectors), a very similar set of provincial flowers for Canada has emerged complementing the US state flowers set. If you have more of this set, please share.
I have received a few Coalport thimble emails recently. They relate to the placement of the decals – on the flower patterns in particular. Some of you have Coalport examples where the flowers are not in the same place or they are featured upside down. Thimble decals are small and they may have inadvertently been placed in the wrong position at the time of manufacture. I don’t believe it lessens them in any way. Do you agree? Maybe the ones I have in my collection or in the photos may be on the wrong way – who is to know for sure? The patterns that have been questioned are :- Chintz Rose and Samarkan etc.
Again in 2016, my attention has been drawn to the different Coalport thimble backstamps. The most commonly found is the royal blue larger stamp. Compare the backstamps in your Coalport thimbles and you may be surprised to find there are some smaller turquoise backstamps and even a gold backstamp for one of their Commemorative thimbles! This is the challenge for me – to share these observations that have been drawn to my attention.
I understand there is a set of seven thimbles for the Days of the Week – Monday’s Child … etc
Do you know this set and have photos to share, please?