I didn't particularly set out collecting sewing utensils. It just kind of happened. I guess I began adding to it piece by piece because they're generally small and a little grouping can be displayed nicely on an end table without taking up much room.
I favor the items made in Germany and love finding unique examples. This is a fine figural piece from Germany made in the form of a samovar out of ivory and, most probably, coquilla nut. It almost made Antiques Road Show, but Eileen took it for me on my behalf, and when they found out it wasn't hers but mine instead, they wouldn't allow her to sign the release papers to air on television. They had never seen another like it.
This is what makes it so special. The lid of the samovar unscrews to reveal tiny sewing tools no more than 2" long, all made of ivory. There's even a tiny little lead pencil topped with a carved ivory decoration.
Figural needlecases are my favorite. The needlecase with the tassle is made of celluloid; the larger parasol is made of bone. Both have handles that unscrew to store needles.
I leave the collecting of crochet hooks to my sister Eileen who has a degree in textiles and, until arthritis set in, created one-of-a-kind contemporary handbags crocheted of hand dyed linen that sold for hundreds and thousands of dollars and won her recognition as a textile artist. I found her the rare salesman's sample portfolio of crochet hooks above in Germany. Sizes and designs vary. Old Dresden trim. A dream!
Ca. 1880 German ivory set of sewing tools. Parasol has a stanhope in the handle, which was common for that period. Hold it up to one eye and you can see scenes of Munich. It was no doubt brought home as a gift from someone who traveled to that city. Lovely box covered in velvet with a beveled glass lid.