Victorian Beaded Pincushion

I could not resist this glorious piece of Victoriana (early Victorian, I think). This extravagant pincushion was handmade and decorated with tiny white beads. It would look lovely on display anywhere. It is quite heavy, so probably filled with sawdust or possibly emery powder (to sharpen pins as you insert them). Whether this was ever used to store pins, I am not sure but we have to remember that until the early 1800s a straight pin was a luxury not available to all. Pins needed a safe place, giving pincushions far more importance than they have today.

The pincushion measures 7.5in across (19cm) at its widest points.


Out of stock


The story of this little treasure

I found this treasure, or it found me on a visit to Betty & Violet in Broadway and that was that. I have to admit that my little car practically knows its own way this gorgeous shop.

I am not certain that we can describe this as a ‘sweetheart’ cushion, but it certainly looks and feels like one, although is not signed and dated. I have three of these sweetheart cushions and just love them. Queen Victoria was very keen on textiles and it was at her suggestion that trunks of lace, beads, pins and other bits and pieces were sent out to the troops in India as she felt that soldiers could be homesick and need occupation.

There is a suggestion that some of these cushions were made during the Boer War, but the most common examples are from World War 1. Soldiers often took up needlepoint as a way to pass the time while recuperating from war wounds or used it as a form of occupational therapy. These cushions are decorated with beads, shells, sequins, pieces of mirror, felt, and pre-printed panels noting soldiers’ regiments. The cushions were stuffed very firmly with sawdust or even coffee grounds.