Antiquities > Other Metal Antiquities

Roman Bronze Palm Thimble 100 - 300 A.D.

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Joe Sermarini:
The object below is identified by the consignor as a Roman bronze palm thimble, 100 - 300 A.D.  I find many similar objects for sale identified the same way, but I have not found a reference to an excavation or a museum collection. I have seen many objects misdescribed over and over by sellers. I don't have confidence in the description. Is it really a thimble? Anyone known of a reference?

Never heard of such a device in Roman times nor have I seen anything that looks like this.

Are there holes in those lugs?


Joe Sermarini:
A string was supposedly passed through the holes to bind the thimble on the hand to the palm. I ran into a sketch or photo of how it was worn when I browsed for Roman palm thimble (but I did not bookmark the URL). It was a sales listing.

Virgil H:
I have no experience with these, but if you look at it and imagine it in use, it makes sense. I have done some leather work in the past where I would have loved to have something like this for hole punching without destroying my hand and palm. It would allow one to use a large punch/needle and apply greater force than an awl with a handle. If you ever used an awl with a handle you can still hurt your hand with it. This device would distribute the force much better. Certainly items like this were used into modern times, as well. A quick search of palm thimbles reveals they are still used and sold and used for pushing large needles through thick leather/fabrics. There is Japanese technique where the needles cannot have handles, so must be pushed through using a device so it doesn't put a hole through your hand. Interesting.


Pekka K:
Joe, did you see this sketch from ex VCoins dealer "Ancient Caesar Classical Numismatics"?


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