Posted by: Elizabeth Grochan | March 29, 2012

My Wonder Box

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“As Ben suggests, “…we are all cabinets of wonder.” What would go in your museum box or “wonder” box?”

Thimble case

Thimble case

Checkout my WonderBox!  This right here is my pride and joy. I have been working on the collection of Thimbles you see here for probably about 15 years now. I actually have more, but these are my favorites, and the only ones that fit in the case. While on a family trip one day traveling through New England, I picked up a bell in Maryland wanting a keepsake. I thought it would be interesting to have something from all the different places I visit. I figured out pretty quickly the bell was a little large (about 6 inches tall) and soon discovered thimbles. My first thimbles were just ones I picked up from souvenirs shops, usually ones that had the state name and some kind of logo. Soon after I began to discover the more uniquely made ones. When people visit some where and ask me what I would like as a souvenir, I always say a thimble. When I visit anywhere new, the first thing I do is look for souvenir shops that may carry thimbles (sometimes I can’t resist and buy more than 1!) I also am always looking for the specially made ones. Some have special pictures painted on the, others have a special object on top, some are shaped like a specific object, and some are beautifully hand carved.

My thimble case is my Wonder Box. When people see it, they look at it in wonder. I love showing it off and telling the stories of my thimbles, where I got a certain thimble, who gave me a special memory, what makes a thimble so unique. The first thing I did once I was unpacked in my new apartment was put my thimble case up. For me, my thimble case is home. It holds some of my dearest memories and connects me to times, places and some very special people.

I am kind of OCD when it comes to things I am passionate about. My books are organized my genre, author, etc something I have always done. My DVD collection is the same, divided into genre than listed alphabetically. When I was setting up my thimbles, I grouped them the best I could into sections by types and locations. I have rearranged them a few times, trying to fit in new ones, removing a few older ones that held less significance, keeping thimbles grouped in a way trying to tell a certain story.

Below I have put a few pictures up of some of my favorites I wanted to share.

Thimbles 2 ~ World Traveler

Thimbles 2 ~ World Traveler

These thimbles share the common theme of being from other countries. The ones from Belize and Guatemala I bought during my 6 week internship. These thimbles represent a very important time of my life, and one of the greatest adventures I have ever been on. The box on the bottom on the left holds my Belize thimbles. The ones in the back have 2 symbols of Belize, an iguana and a dolphin, while the front one has the Belizian flag. Above this box is my Guatemala thimble made of wood and representing the Mayan ruins of Tikal.

The other thimbles are presents from friends and my Mom from their visits to Europe over the years; The UK, Germany, Prague

I hope to gather much more over the years as I hope to explore more of the world, taking a thimble home as a memory.

Thimbles 3 ~ NC thimbles, Home is where the thimbles are at

Thimbles 3 ~ NC thimbles, Home is where the thimbles are at

If you look at the top shelf here, the 2nd and 3rd boxes, and on the 2nd shelf the 3rd box over, these are the NC thimbles I have collected. The top middle box has thimbles of the Blue Ridge which I oddly bought long before moving to Boone. The box next to it has thimbles from the crystal coast where I grew up 🙂 They each have lighthouses and the one in the back has the cardinal and dogwood flower on it, NC state’s symbols. The box below that has a thimble I got from Biltmore as well as thimbles with airplanes on them (one etched, the other painted on it) in honor of the Wright Brothers. (If you notice I placed my Ohio collection directly below as an inside joke regarding the ongoing fight over who should be credited with the first in flight 😛 See the thimble with the airplane on top?)

Thimbles 4 ~ Totem Pole and Turtle

Thimbles 4 ~ Totem Pole and Turtle

These two are some of my favorite thimbles that are part of my collection. My favorite kinds of thimbles are the ones that don’t look like thimbles upon first glance. The totem pole, which I received towards the beginning of my collection, is actually only a thimble on the bottom layer. The top actually can fall back, only attached my a hinge which reveals the actual thimble beneath. This one has always been special to me, and is a central piece to my collection. The turtle is also a favorite, with the shell creating the thimble and the head is adjustable to go further in and stick out.

I just love the uniqueness of these thimbles!

Thimbles 5 ~ Wizard of Oz

Thimbles 5 ~ Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz collection is very special to me. My Grandmother was a huge Judy Garland fan, so in relation she liked Wizard of Oz. Once when the 2 of us and my family were visiting downtown Swansboro in NC, we found a small shop called The Silver Thimble (had some amazing thimbles, a place my family often went to buy me the more unique ones and I was sad to see them close). She purchased the main three, Dorothy, Glinda and the Wicked Witch, for me because at the time the others weren’t there. A while later I was visiting the shop again, and saw they had the whole collection! I bought them all, including duplicates of the ones I had. I gave those to my Grandmother and added the rest to my collection.

I few years ago, my Grandmother passed away from breast cancer. My Grandfather gave me the 3 thimbles I once bought for her to have. While I do not display the duplicates (really, I already have too many thimbles), I do have them in another keepsake box. These Wizard of Oz Thimbles will always be a representation of my Grandmother and they bring good memories when I look at them.

Thimbles 6 ~ Hard carved and antiqued

Thimbles 6 ~ Hard carved and antique

These thimbles are unique in a certain way. Each is hand carved, made with intricate designs. The 1st and 3rd came from Guatemala. The 3rd one even has an etching of Tikal, a Mayan ruin on it. The 2nd and 4th thimble were gifts from a family friend who saw them and thought of me. I find the 2nd one to be simply beautiful, and the last one to be fascinating in its antiqueness looking like it could have actually been used, which I like to believe.

I like the fact that my family friend just saw these thimbles, on different occasions, and thought of me. To receive this small token was a reminder of the fact that this person cares for me.

Thimbles 7 ~ Titanic Ship of Dreams

Thimbles 7 ~ Titanic Ship of Dreams

From an early age LOOOONNNGGGG before the Titanic movie came out I was fascinated with the Titanic tragedy. I read tons of books, fiction and nonfiction, would watch tv specials, and spent the time to learn as much of the story as possible. These thimbles came from 2 different visits to the Titanic museum I visited many years ago in Florida. The don’t just represent a trip I took, but something I have an interest in that is a part of my life, then and now.

Thimbles 8 ~ Washington DC and Military

Thimbles 8 ~ Washington DC and Military

I grew up a military brat in the military town of Jacksonville NC. My Dad fought in Vietnam long before I was born. That said, military symbols are very important to me. These thimbles came from a trip to Washington DC I took with my family. In addition to the Lincoln monument souvenirs, I have a thimble representing the Vietnam Wall, as well as thimbles with the Marine Corps emblem. Growing up surround by military helped shaped me into much of who I am today so to see these symbols is to see a part of my life.

Thimbles 9 ~ New York, New York!

Thimbles 9 ~ New York, New York!

My parents are both from Brooklyn, so New York will always hold a piece in my heart. I of course have 2 special thimbles dedicated to 9/11. Growing up visiting the city often, driving over the Brooklyn bridge and seeing the NY skyline with the Twin Towers standing tall will always be a cherished memory. I remember the heart ache of that day, and the many that followed. The first time seeing the Skyline without the towers was difficult. I will never see the towers again, yet these small representations help fill a hole left in my heart.

I also have NY thimbles with various symbols such as Broadway, The Empire State Building, and of course the Statue of Liberty. These remind me of my family 🙂

Thimbles 10 ~ Fairytales

Thimbles 10 ~ Fairytales

Awww some more of my favorites. These are my more whimsical and fairytale like thimbles. The Cinderella one is a personal favorite, mostly because you can lift the top up and reveal a pair of small golden shoes that actually come out. I always loved the hidden surprise. The Humpty Dumpty was another reflection of childhood, and then of course the carousel, what better childhood representation is there.

Thimbles 11 ~ Rocking Horse and a Pig

Thimbles 11 ~ Rocking Horse and a Pig

When I was still younger, early into my collection, my little sister purchased the pig thimble for me. Not something I more than likely would have bought on my own, but from her is means something. She found the thimble while shopping for presents one day, and had to get it for me. I loved the gester, and still do today.

The Rocking Horse in another thimble I received early on, I believe in my first year. I love how the middle is made of the thimble, and the rest creates the rocking horse. Another favorite, and why I want to continue searching for more unique thimbles. My Mom actually bought this one and she does her best to locate new and original ones when she can.

Thimbles 12 ~ Nashville Tennessee Yew Haw!

Thimbles 12 ~ Nashville Tennessee Yew Haw!

What I love about this thimble is that it is shaped like a Stetson! How unique and different. Instead of simply writing the state name and city, adding a flower and the state bird, Nashville creates a special thimble that illustrates Nashville better than anything a simple thimble could do. My Dad bought this one for me, and really he deserves much of the credit of my collection because he has given me much of it, always searching for a new thimble for me to add.

My family and friends have really helped me create this collection, sharing in the memories left behind for me.

I hope you enjoyed glancing at my Wonder Thimble Box! I will continue building my collection, creating new memories and reflecting on the old. I leave you with a poem I wrote in Dr. Trathen’s class last year about my thimble collection…

A Thimble Full of Memories

Doesn’t seem like Much

But when you have 100

A Thimble is enough



  1. Wow! That’s a lot of thimbles! 🙂 You have some very unique ones. I especially liked the rocking horse and pig. I can’t even imagine how many you’ll have after another 15 years- it’s a good thing thimbles take up very little space! Lol. I really enjoyed seeing all your different thimbles and reading about them. Thanks for sharing your Wonder Box.

  2. You thimbles show a part of you. I love your Wonder Box.

  3. I love your collection! The Wizard of Oz is one of my favorite movies and I have several things that I have collected in its memory. I was so happy to find that you have the entire set of thimbles! You need to be OCD when it comes to something that means so much to you ~ don’t worry about it! I wish you many more victories in finding just the “right ones”!

  4. Elizabeth,
    Your wonder box is wonderful! I loved the poem and agree that a thimble full of memories is enough. I too know a little sign language and teach my students a few things each year. We will be reading biographies when we return from spring break and I have selected Hellen Keller and Louis Braille to get us started. It is a small world full of wonders.
    Elizabeth A

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