Wednesday 13 December 2023

Gift inscriptions on lace bobbins


This lace bobbin is inscribed with the words ‘A present from my father 1836’. I’m not sure of the date as it is indistinct and could also be 1896, however I think the bobbin was made by Jesse Compton who died in 1857 which makes the earlier date much more likely! Jesse Compton and his son James were both bobbin makers and their styles were similar but Jesse’s tended to be thinner probably because handmade lace was made of finer thread during the early part of the century. This meant that the bobbins didn’t have to be very heavy, and as more were required to make the lace the thinner they were the better because more would fit on the lace pillow. However, this fine thread looped round the head of the bobbin often tended to produce a groove in the neck and weaken it and many of Jesse’s bobbins have lost the upper part of the head; as is the case here.

Gift inscriptions were quite common on lace bobbins such as ‘A gift for Mary’ A present from Charles’, The gift is small but love is all’ or even the simple ‘A gift’. The bobbin collector and historian T L Huetson records one bobbin which read ‘A present from James Sinfield my grandfather born April 10 1804 Lidelington a gift in 1864’ luckily by that time lace bobbins tended to be larger than the one in the image to accommodate all that text! Although many lace bobbins were given as presents one expressly stating the fact and naming the giver is a lovely thing to own. I certainly treasure my lace bobbin which was indeed a present from my father who found it in an antique shop.

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