Suitors During 1600s Expressed Romantic Sentiments Via Silver Thimbles

Wow, how times have changed. Did you know that during the 1600s young suitors expressed their love by gifting silver thimbles engraved with courtship quotations?

Curators at National Museum Cardiff in Wales believe that thimbles, worn on the finger during needlework, were considered an intimate (and therefore romantic) possession, suitable as a gift between lovers.

The discussion about romantic silver thimbles was sparked by the surprising find of Robert Edwards, who unearthed a fine example of a post-Medieval thimble while metal detecting near Carew Castle in Pembrokeshire, Wales. Engraved around the base of the thimble is the phrase “LYKE STIL AND LOVE EVER,” which translates to “like enduringly, love forever.”

The sentiment behind the engraved thimble is similar to that of posy rings, which were commonly exchanged between lovers from the 15th through the 17th centuries in both England and France. What made posy rings unique were the secret, romantic quotations inscribed on the inner surface of the band.

Edwards described how he discovered the historic thimble just a few inches below the surface.

“I was out detecting under the shade of an oak tree and was having no luck, until I changed the program and found a great crisp signal,” he said. “At first I thought it may be a sixpence, but to my surprise it was something silver – and not a coin!

“I like to think about who used [the thimble],” he continued. “Was it used in the castle I could see over the way? Did someone get in trouble when it was lost? I’m very happy that I’ve been able to share it with the rest of you.”

A National Museum Cardiff press release described the design of Edwards’ find as having six transverse bands scored in a zig-zag pattern around the body, layered over an incised brickwork or basket-weave pattern. The two-piece construction is made up of a rounded top soldered to the main body.

Although the item was found in November of 2020, Wales officials declared the silver thimble as a treasure just this month. Treasure hunters in Wales are required to report finds that are more than 300 years old.

According to, now that the thimble’s status has been established, museums will get a chance to purchase it at a price determined by the country’s Treasure Valuation Committee.

Tenby Museum & Art Gallery reportedly has expressed an interest in acquiring this find for its collection. Edwards may keep his find only if no museum wants to procure it.

Credit: Image courtesy of National Museum Cardiff.


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