Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Game Piece or Thread Winder

Along with my textile collection I collect antique and vintage needlework tools.  I have a Facebook Group:  "Antique and Vintage Sewing Tools" where we share photos and information.

One discussion involved mother of pearl (MOP) thread winders.

Are they thread winders or game pieces?

So far the answer seems to be...Maybe.

In Diane Pelham Burn's book, "Thread Winders" the style in this post are listed as oriental game

A member of our Facebook group recommended "Chinese Mother of Pearl Gaming Counters" by Bill Neal.
Website (HERE)
In this book, Bill shows the style in this post and states they are game counters OR silk thread winders.

I have some of the snowflake style but have not included them in this post.

These photos are "Double Dog of Fo" design.  They were in game counter sets and also included in imported sewing boxes.  He proposes with the decline in the popularity of gaming sets, perhaps the artists branched out.

Could it be as sets were broken up, creative stitchers saw an opportunity to use them as winders?  Some parlor sets included game boards and storage features for hand sewing. (HERE)
I wrote about one I saw in Milwaukee (HERE)

MOP pieces in this style are sometimes found with silk thread wound around the jaws of the dog.  I am pleased with the four Dog of Fo pieces and appreciate learning more about them.  I now look for the snowflake winders.  I'll share those in a future post.

You are welcome to join the Antique and Vintage Sewing Tool FB group - let me know if you would like an invite.

How boring are spools today - we are all about the threads.  My project embroidery threads get reproduction MOP rings - so pretty, but I'm glad I don't have to keep up a 'parlor' appearance with my sewing!

Have a great week,


  1. Such fancy thread winders. I have never come across any in an antique shop. You have an eye for finding such pretty vintage/antique sewing tools.

    1. Thanks Karen, I started collecting when I was in high school....many years ago!

  2. Well, I vote for thread winders, but whatever they were meant for, they are beautiful!

    1. I like the game counters that ended up in sewing boxes theory. So technically for the longest portion of their lives...they held thread? Carved as early as 1750...

  3. These are so pretty! It is fun to think that they are game pieces that were repurposed. Whatever they were originally, they make beautiful holders of thread!

  4. You sure don't see things like that anymore - how lovely whatever their intended use - though thread winders have my vote! Your group sounds very interesting. I have a few sewing tools myself.

  5. OK, that's really cool. I wish I had a collection of antique sewing tools.

  6. So beautiful! Unfortunately I do not have anything like this, just the boring modern stuff. Great to see these on your blog, very interesting.

  7. Another interesting and educational post! Whatever their intended purpose, they are beautiful.

  8. Learn something new everyday, as they say...this was quite interesting! :)

  9. How interesting. I just sent a request on Facebook to join this group.

  10. Thanks for the enlightenment, Dawn. I'd never seen anything like that. Women are always creative and repurposing.

  11. They look like something special for special people. I really impressed.

  12. Such fascinating thread winders.
    This was such a fun and informative read.
    They really are beautiful!


Thanks for your comments!