Offered at Bleasdale’s (20% buyer’s premium) in Warwick on July 19, they were among the stars of the latest of Robert Bleasdale’s biannual specialist sales of sewing material, Tunbridgeware and Mauchlinware which he has held since setting up the firm in 2009.
His specialist knowledge goes back to the 1980s and he remembers selling the large 18th century polished steel shuttle, above, in 1999 at Phillips.
It was part of the collection of the late Sylvia Mary Groves, author of the important 1966 work, the then-definitive The History of Needlework Tools and Accessories, when it sold at £3100.
It came into the Warwick sale from a deceased estate, hence the here-to-buy £500-1000 estimate.
“On reflection, I could have priced it higher,” Bleasdale said after it sold at £3000. “The prices for thimbles have dropped 50% since 1999 but there are three or four serious collectors of shuttles who have kept prices up.”
One of those collectors was after this 5in x 1½in (12.5 x 4cm) shuttle with its mirror design of flowerheads, flowers, leaves and scrolls.
However, she was beaten to it by a relative newcomer to the field, the wife of an antiques dealer who is building up her own collection.
She looks like a serious contender in the future too – she also bought the very rare and large Continental porcelain knotting shuttle, also above.
Probably French 19th century, the 5½in (14cm) long shuttle featured diagonal blue lines within gilt borders with garlands of flowers to one side and musical instruments and garlands to the other.
Initialled CE within a panel, the shuttle sold for £2100 (estimate £500-1000).