British Lace Bobbins

How well do you know your British Lace Bobbins

I was watching an old ‘Bargain Hunt’ program on the TV and 2 of the contestants found and bought a box of 6 old bone East Midland bobbins, similar to these Bone bobbins probably dating from the 1800 to the 1900, dyed but otherwise not very exciting.


What really drew my attention was the identification given by the ‘Expert’. She looked at the East Midland Spangled Bobbins and said ‘They are quite fine, so I think that they are Honiton Bobbins’!!! What a Clanger! Though she did say that she expected to have viewers phoning in to correct her if she was wrong. I hope all the lace makers who were watching the program did contact her.

Different areas of the United Kingdom have distinctly different lace bobbin, which vary as to the type of lace being made.

To start in the West Country, Honiton Lace Bobbins are small slender with tapered ends (no spangles!) a single head, a few can be decorated, especially the older ones, but most are plain.


The shape of the Honiton Bobbin is dictated by the type of lace made which uses a fine thread and can involve a quantity of sewings where spangles would get in the way.

Moving a little bit further East the bobbins for Downton lace and Devon Trolly Lace, are of a similar shape but a bit chunkier


These were used for making Point Ground and Torchon lace

Moving still further East we come to the South Midland and the Home Counties, where we possibly have the oldest type of Bobbin. The Bucks Point Trolly bobbin affectionately known as a ‘Bucks Thumpers’. They were quite heavy and bulky especially when you consider that the Lace that they were used for making was a fine Point Ground Lace, and had no spangles though some at a later date have been drilled to take a spangle.


They had either a single or double head, were lightly carved and could often have pewter rings around them. If we are fortunate enough to have any of these bobbins we would probably use them today as a bobbin for a gimp thread. They are seldom made today

The most popular of UK’s bobbins is the East Midland’s Spangled bobbins, made either of wood or bone, plain or decorated, straight with a double head and have bead spangles, which contra to the popular belief of the non-Lacemaking community, are not to show us which bobbin to use to use

next, we watch the threads for that, but to stop the bobbins rolling across the pillow and so stopping the thread from unwind.


This type of bobbin is unique to the UK, and is not found on the continent, but it has travelled arround the world to all those countries where Britian used to have infulence such as Canada, Australia, NewZealand, South Africa.and the U.S.A.

The last bobbin used in the UK, is the Offord Giant Bobbin, especially designed by us, for those of you who want to use thicker threads such as wool or Perle 3 & 5 to make scarves, wall hangings etc. or for experimental Lace.


Standard East Midlands Bobbins – Spangled and unspangled, Honiton Bobbins and the Offord Giant Bobbin are all available in varying size packs from our On Line shop or from our stand when we are at Lace and Quilting Days.

View our range of Lace Bobbins here


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