04 May 2019 00:00

Russia’s Only Thimble Museum – and it’s found in the Urals

Russia’s Only Thimble Museum – and it’s found in the Urals

Seven years ago saw the opening of an unusual museum on the premises of a clothing factory in the town of Kopeisk, in the Chelyabisnk region.

The prototype of the thimble — a device for protection against needle pricking — first appeared in Egypt and China more than 2,000 years ago. It was only with the advent of sewing machines that the need for thimbles disappeared.

When the museum first opened, its exhibits consisted of a mere two hundred thimbles. Its stock has increased dramatically since then: today the museum holds about one and a half thousand thimbles from 100 countries in its collection. One such thimble is a nineteenth century cloister from China, a delicate silver piece containing rubies, walrus bones and volcanic lava. 

There are a whole series of thimbles in the museum, arranged according to different themes. These include porcelain thimbles and stucco-decorated thimbles devised in the shape of flower petals. 

There are also various items dedicated to notable figures from history, such as the Queen of England, the poet Musa Jalil, the film director Eldar Ryazanov, actors Anatoly Papanov and Andrei Mironov, and even the legendary tank driver and Great Patriotic War Hero Semyon Khokhryakov.

The museum’s founders Anna and Vladimir Malinovsky started making their own thimbles a few years ago. Porcelain shells are shipped in from London; designs are then added at a photo studio in Chelyabinsk. The museum’s main exhibits however are those thimbles that have been brought from countries worldwide. 

Thimble museums are few and far between across the world. Kopeisk’s is joined by other notable ones in Germany, The Netherlands and Belgium.

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