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In 1693, a Dutch thimble manufacturer named John Lofting established a thimble manufactory in Islington, in London, England, expanding British thimble production to new heights.He later moved his mill to Buckinghamshire to take advantage of water-powered production, resulting in a capacity to produce more than two million thimbles per year.Oddly, neither the Romans nor the Greeks before them appear to have used metal thimbles.
At the same time, cheaper sources of silver from the Americas made silver thimbles a popular item for the first time.
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Although there are isolated examples of thimbles made of precious metals—Elizabeth I is said to have given one of her ladies-in-waiting a thimble set with precious stones—the vast majority of metal thimbles were made of brass.
Medieval thimbles were either cast brass or made from hammered sheet.