I don't know about you but I find it fascinating to see how the cost of hand embroidery supplies have changed over the years. When I saw a list of equipment and supplies in Helen Whiteford's school exercise book from the 1930's I wanted to share it with you.
The prices are given in sterling: in pounds, shillings and pence, the form of money we used here in the UK before decimalization in 1971.
A pound was made up of 20 shillings in 240 pennies. A shilling consisted of 12 pennies. A penny consisted of two halfpennies or four farthings.
The symbols used for this kind of money were £ for pounds, s. or /- for shillings and d for pennies.
Let's start with the tools and equipment that she lists...
|Tools and equipment||Cost|
|Pins||2/10 a pound weight (almost 15 pence)|
|Needles||4 to a 1/- packet (5 pence)|
|Thimbles - plastic||1d|
|Thimbles - plated||3d|
|Tape measures||6d (about 2.5 pence)|
|Scissors - embroidery||4/- or 6/- (20 or 30 pence)|
|Scissors - cutting out||10/- (50 new pence)|
|Frame, round||3/-, 4/- (15 or 20 pence)|
|Frame, square 20"||13/4 (about 68 pence)|
|Pattern making paper, ruled 1/4"||5/4 (about 28 pence)|
|Tracing paper||5d a sheet (about 2.5 pence)|
|Indian ink||1/4 for 1oz bottle|
|Hessian 50"||5/- to 6/- a yard (25-30 pence a yard)|
|Oatmeal cloth 50"||8/6 (42.5 pence a yard)|
|Cotton crash||4/- (20 pence a yard)|
|Hardanger||6/- to 14/- (30 - 70 pence a yard)|
|Linen 36 to 72", white||7/6 to 17/6 (35 - 87 pence)|
|Linen, dyed 36"||10/6 (52.5 pence)|
|Unbleached calico, 36"||4/6 (22.5 pence)|
|Canvas(various)||3/- to 7/- (15 - 35 pence)|
|Gingham||3/2 (16 pence)|
|Felt||14/6 (72.5 pence)|
|Net||6/- (30 pence)|
|Clarks cotton, stranded||4.5d a skein|
|Soft embroidery cotton||4.5d a skein|
|Cotton a broder||3d a skein|
|Embroidery wool, 4 ply||3d a skein|
|Sewing cotton||6d a reel|
|Tacking cotton||2/2 a spool|
|Tape 36 yards||1/5|
|Coloured cord||from 2.5d a yard|
|Wooden beads 1/4 sq||1/- each|
To put the prices of the hand embroidery supplies above into perspective, a weekly wage at this time may have been about 30/- (30 shillings or 30 'bob') which would now be £1.50.