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.
Prices are given in pounds, shillings and pence, the form of money we used here in the UK before decimalization in 1971.
In Britain, a pound was made up of 240 pennies or 20 shillings. 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. This information will help you read the table below.
Let's start with the tools and equipment that Helen listed and then we will move on to the embroidery fabrics and floss...
|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 that time may have been about 30/- (30 shillings or 30 'bob') which was the equivalent of £1.50. Due to inflation that would relate to a lot more today, perhaps nearly £15.