I'm always on the look out for interesting old beaded and embroidered pin cushions. They come in all shapes, sizes and materials. The example above is a bit of a monster at ten inches high, made from velvet with beaded designs. It was made in about 1880 by Native Americans, probably from the Tuscarora tribe, who sold them to tourists visiting the Niagara Falls.
At the other end of the scale is this tiny Victorian patchwork example, measuring about one inch square and half an inch high.
This pin cushion is made from snippets of antique soldier's uniform fabric and would have been brought home from overseas, perhaps from the Crimea or Afghanistan, a gift for Mother or the girl he left behind. They say that the men made these themselves as they waited for the action to start, but I think it more likely that there were cottage industries set up near army camps, making and selling these souvenirs.
I think my favourites are these - pin cushions made to commemorate the birth of "a little helpless stranger". They date from around 1830, a time when babies and their mothers quite often did not survive the birth. I sometimes wonder if people then were more resigned to sadness and hardship than we are today - but perhaps not. The cushion below seems to express the feelings of an anxious, loving husband.
A Girl or Boy
care not either
that our Saviour