This is the place to come to learn about Avery style needle cases.

Rarest and Most Common Designs

This text has been divided into the sections listed below to make it easier for individuals to find the information for which they are most interested.
Avery Rarity Chart
Methodology Sources


What do we mean by rarity?  According to the dictionary the word rare, when used to describe an object, means something that does not occur very often.  In other words, the object is unusual, unique, distinctive or uncommon. But then how do we define “often”?  If you are a new collector you may find an Avery for sale but have no idea if it is rare or not.  No records of how many Avery needle cases were actually manufactured have survived, and to our knowledge no one has tracked when all individual items were sold, or know how many currently exist in private collections.  Additionally, with the introduction of the Internet and online sales, more and more people are being exposed to Avery needle cases every day and sometimes what was seen infrequently in the past is found for sale online more often today.  Therefore, an item’s rarity must be defined by the individuals who are knowledgeable about Avery needle cases.

What makes a person knowledgeable?  One of our goals was to bring together some of the major Avery needle case collectors to get their opinion on which needle cases are rare.  A survey was done in 2013 to gather information from collectors regarding the items in their collections.  Unfortunately, the response was too small to make a definitive statement about an item’s rarity.  Knowledge is gained through years of collecting, seeing what is for sale at antique shops, antique shows, traditional auction houses, estate sales, collector’s clubs, collector’s conferences and, of course online at auction websites like eBay.  Knowledge is also gained through communication with others and peer review, since no one person has all of the answers and the sharing of ideas frequently leads to new discoveries.  A different person’s perspective is often needed to break away from the natural biases most individuals develop over time based on their unique experiences.  These communications shouldn’t be limited to individuals who are only interested in Avery needle cases but should include people who are knowledgeable about similar objects, e.g.: other brass items, thimbles, needle work tools, pen and pencil cases or Victorian jewelry just to mention a few.  Knowledge is also gained through research completed at libraries, archives and museums or discussions with the staff at these institutions.

With regard to rarity, one must also take into consideration whether a specific item could be sold multiple times making it look as if it is more common than it really is.  For example, an antique dealer might purchase a needle case online one day only to re-list the very same item for sale a few weeks later.  Additionally, individual items listed for sale with high reserves or buy-it-now prices might appear on auction websites for months or sometimes even years.  When they don’t sell, and continue to appear for sale, they give the impression to buyers who only look a few times a year that they are more common.


As you can see from the discussion above, there is no easy way to determine which Avery needle case designs are the rarest and which are the most common.  To address this problem a comprehensive methodology was created to evaluate the degree of rarity of each design based on information from multiple sources.  Be advised that this is not a perfect process, but rather a starting point which can be added to and changed in the future as new information becomes available.

The methodology used was based on five key components: 1) personal experience of several major collectors; 2) responses to the Avery survey; 3) descriptions and photographs of Avery designs from major publications and presentations; 4) items sold at auction; and 5) a variety of searches done on the Internet.  A detailed list of the sources used to assess rarity can be found at the end of this section.

Avery Rarity Chart

The chart below is based on how often a specific Avery needle case design was found in the sources listed above taking into consideration that the same item might appear in several different sources.  All known designs are assigned to one of six rarity categories listed in order with the rarest first and the most common last.  Within each rarity category individual designs appear in alphabetic order by design type.

Note: If a design was found missing a major part, for example the Golden Cart missing the cart, it was not included in this assessment.  However, items missing a minor piece such as a catch or something like the antenna of the Butterfly are included.

Rarity Category

Needle Case Examples

Never Seen

Accordion-Folding: None
Demi-Quad: None
Figural: Banner Screen, Bird Cage, Boot and Rink Skate, Butterfly Box-Semi-Circle, Cannon, Coal Vase, Cross, Fish with Scallop Shell, Knife Basket, Needle and Cotton Bag, Punch, Rolling Pin, Shield with Yorkshire Terrier, Stile, Swan Needle and Pin Case
Flat-Names: Double Palmette, Merveille, Metal Ribbon, Single Palmette
Quadruples: None

Only seen once or twice in 20 years

Accordion-Folding: Beatrice-Sharpe version, Cotton Plant
Demi-Quad: Helen-Bent Arm with Wreath, Helen-Oval Decoration, Minerva, Nilsson
Figural: Arts and Industry, Basket, Bath Chair, Beehive Skep, Bellows, Bird’s Nest, Bow and Arrows on Heart, British Flag Cart, Butter Churn, Butterfly Box-Diamond, Dog Carrying Woven Basket, Dog in Kennel, Easel-Diamond Jubilee, Fan with Bee and Dog Head Cover, Fan with Cupid Cover (front view), Fan with Lady with Fan Cover, Fan with Swan Cover, Flower Petal Paperweight, Goat with Panniers, Golden Cart, Hygrometer/Weather House, Invalid Chair, Lap Desk-Diamond Jubilee, Lap Desk-Oval Cartouche, Lap Desk-Royal Portrait Busts, Leaning Tower of Pisa, Lighthouse with Boat, Looking Glass, Maltese Cross with Folding Arms, Mantle Clock, Oval Tub-Diamond Jubilee, Oval Tub-Kaiser Wilhelm I Bust, Oval Tub-Ladies Portrait Bust, Oval Tub-Scott’s Monument, Park Chair, Peacock Needle Case, Picture in Cruciform Frame, Punch and Judy Theater, Rose Pin Case, Seated Cherub with Book, Sewing Beetle on Plinth, Sheaf of Wheat, Shield with Bird, Shield with Ladies Portrait, Swan, Victorian Row Boat, Water Pump with Trough
Flat-Names: Albert Needle Case, Chinoiserie, Christmas Pincer, Floral Bouquet Pincer, Golden Casket-Diamond, Hector, Hermetical, La Belle, Ladies Needle Album, Locket, Metallic Casket, Minerva Lever, Needle Casket, Painted Scrolls, Palace, Patent Lever, Royal with Crystal Palace, Silver Casket-Toronto, Silver Needle Case, Victoria with Windmill and Horse
Quadruples: Diamond-Jubilee, Gay & Son version, Lady Mayoress of London, Sterling Silver-Crest with Flower, Sterling Silver-Christmas Gift, Sterling Silver-Floral Pattern, Sterling Silver-Geometric Pattern, Sterling Silver-Plain with no decoration, Sterling Silver-Scroll Pattern

Usually seen once every 3 to 8 years

Accordion-Folding: Gem-4 Sections, Gem-6 Sections, Roses with Buds, Sovereign
Demi-Quad: Cleopatra, Christmas, Helen-Portrait and Rose
Figural: Arc de Triomphe, Archery Society, Arctic Sledge, Bathing Machine, Beef Serving Cart, Bird on a Box, Bombe, Bower, Butterfly-Filigree, Butterfly on Morning Glory, Carpet Bag, Chair, Cleopatra’s Needle, Cock Robin’s Grave, Cradle, Dog on Plinth, Donkey with Panniers, Eiffel Tower, Elephant with Howdah, Fan with Cupid Cover (side view), Fir Cones, Fish, Flat Iron, Gothic Coffer, Guitar, Hat Box, Kindling Box, Ladies Companion, Lion Lying on Plinth, Metallic Pin Box, Organ Grinder, Oval Tub-Scott’s Portrait Bust, Penny Stamp-Rowland Hill Portrait, Pyramid Pin Case, Sedan Chair, Shakespeare’s Birthplace-Large, Shield with Rose, Shield with Stag Head, Star, Table Swivel Mirror, Temple Bar, Trolley and Box, Trunk with Grain and Straps, Umbrella, Valentine, Wheelbarrow with Roses, Windmill, Wishing Well, Work and Game Table
Flat-Names: Alliance, American Eagle, Athena Golden, Britannia, Constance, Cupid’s Casket, Duplex, Empress, Kwikso, La Facile, Minerva Pincer, Nosegay, Pavilion, Pocket Pin Case, Prince Needle Preserver, Raised Wheat, Silver Casket-Diamond, Silver Casket-Headless Cross, Unique-Robert’s version, Victoria with Belt Buckle
Quadruples: Building, Eclectic-Bent Arm on Shield, Eclectic-Lion on Shield, Golden Casket - Bent Arm with Wreath, Liverpool Exhibition 1886, Minerva Lever Casket, Unknown Exhibition Building

Usually seen once every 1 to 2 years

Accordion-Folding: None
Demi-Quad: Helen-Maltese Cross
Figural: Bee Case, Camp Kettle, Coal Scuttle, Crab on Platter, Drum, Fan with Rose Cover, Hedgehog, Hedgehog Needle and Pin Case, Penny Stamp, Picnic Basket, Shakespeare’s Birthplace-Small, Universal Pin Case, Wheelbarrow with Holly
Flat-Names: Abel Morrall, Diana, Florence, Golden Needle Case, Louise-Folding
Quadruples: Eclectic-Bent Arm in Oval

Usually seen several times a year

Accordion-Folding: Beatrice-6 Sections
Demi-Quad: None
Figural: Lap Desk-Floral, Postal Weight, Queen’s Footstool, Walnut on Leaf
Flat-Names: Alexandra, Louise-Square, Revolving, Royal with Vase, Silver Casket-Flowers, Stella Golden, Unique
Quadruples: Needle Casket-Fleur-de-lis, Plain with no decoration

Always or almost always available

Accordion-Folding: Beatrice-4 Sections
Demi-Quad: None
Figural: Butterfly, Butterfly Box-Oval Tub, Easel-Floral, Horseshoe, Scallop Shell
Flat-Names: Golden Casket-Fountain
Quadruples: Golden Casket-Butterfly on Leaf, Golden Casket-Fleur-de-lis

Methodology Sources

The following sources were used to assess individual design rarity:

  1. Monitoring designs for sale at major antique shows in the Chicago area from 1993-2002 (Meinke)

  2. Monitoring designs for sale at major antique shows throughout the Midwest from 1993-2002 (antique dealer mother of Meinke)

  3. Responses to the Avery Survey conducted in 2013 (13 collectors)

  4. Review of items mentioned in a variety of needlework tool publications and lectures (Meinke and Herrod).

    • Andere, Mary.  Old Needlework Boxes and Tools, Their Story and How to Collect Them, 1971.  Although Chapter 4 Pin Cushions and Needle Cases, pages 73-78, does not specifically mention Avery and contains no Avery photographs, the Beatrice is described.

    • Bertrand, Christina.  The Mystery Lady. Thimble Collectors International Bulletin, Winter 1997, page 5.  This article discusses who the lady is on the Oval Tub - Ladies Portrait Bust needle case.

    • Clabburn, Pamela.  The Evolution of Sewing Tools. Antique Collector, Vol. 17, No. 10, March 1983.  Pages 62-65 mentions Avery and includes photographs of the Beatrice, Easel-Floral, Butterfly, Horseshoe, Scallop, Postal Weight, Quad - Diamond Jubilee, Florence, Duplex, Silver Casket, Kwikso, Roses with Buds, Golden Needle Case and Alexandra.

    • Collins, Peter.  The Art and Mystique of Needlemaking - Abel Morrall Needlemakers 1785-1991, 2017.  Page 85 mentions the La Belle needlecase.

    • Fresco-Corbu, Roger.  An Eye for Needlecases. Art and Antiques Weekly, January 28, 1978, Vol 30, #12, pages 14-17.  Article mentions Avery and describes the Quadruple, Butterfly and Scallop Shell. Includes photographs of the Archery Society, Bird on a Box, Golden Cart and Easel-Floral.

    • Gaussen, Elaine.  Miller’s Sewing Accessories A Collectors Guide, 2001.  Page 20 describes two “Brass needlecases” the Scallop Shell and Quadruple Golden Casket, including photographs.  Also, mentions the Beatrice in brief discussion of Avery needle cases.

    • Graves, Frances.  Whimsies in the Sewing Room, 1997.  Page 19 includes photographs of the Bee and Butterfly.

    • Gullers, Barbara D.  Antique Sewing Tools and Tales, 1992.  Page 40 includes photographs of the Alexandra, Beatrice and Louise-Folding.

    • Horowitz, Estelle and Mann, Ruth.  Victorian Brass Needlecases, 1990.  Includes numerous photographs.

    • Jary, Linda Gordanier.  Of Needles and Needlecases; Sampler & Antique Needlework Quarterly, Vol 5, 1992, pages 18-22.  Contains a special section entitled Avery Needlecases on page 22 and includes photographs of the Butterfly, Butterfly Box-Oval Tub, Unique, Horseshoe, Universal Pin Case, Walnut on Leaf and Wheelbarrow with Roses.  Refers readers to Horowitz and Mann.

    • Johnson, Eleanor. Needlework Tools A Guide to Collecting.  Shire Publications #38, 1978, pages 14-16.  Avery is mentioned (barrows, fans, shells, easel, walnut on leaf and quadruple) but only the Quadruple is photographed.

    • Johnson, Eleanor.  Needlework and Embroidery Tools, Shire Publications, 1999.  Pages 16-19 mention “Avery needelecases” and include photographs of the (i) Wheelbarrow with Holly, Postal Weight, Wishing Well, Butterfly, Hat Box and (ii) Royal, Beatrice in box, Beatrice open, Picnic Basket, Butterfly Quadruple, Louise, Louise Folding, and Bee.

    • McConnel, Bridget.  The Story of Antique Needlework Tools, 1999.  Page 69 mentions Avery needle cases in passing and refers readers to Horowitz and Mann.  Includes photographs of the Easel-Floral, Elephant with Howdah and Work and Game Table.

    • Pollitt, Judy.   Avery Needle Holders. Dorset Thimble Society 2009 Convention presentation.  Includes numerous photographs.

    • Proctor, Molly.  Needlework Tools and Accessories: A Collectors Guide, 1990.  Pages 16-17 mentions stamped brass caskets the majority marked Avery but also other names which may have been “under licence” (sic). Photographs include the Butterfly, Scallop Shell and Butterfly Oval Tub.

    • Rogers, Gay Ann.  An Illustrated History of Needlework Tools, 1983.  Pages 77-79 refers to Avery Brasses.  Photographs show (i) Alexandra and Quadruple Golden Casket, (ii) Easel-Floral, Temple Bar, Elephant with Howdah, Hat Box, Queen’s Footstool, and Windmill, (iii) Rose on Shield, Crab on Platter, Scallop Shell and Butterfly.

    • Scott, Jean.  Needle Packet Holders: A Chronological Description, 2006 revised 2012.  Includes numerous photographs.

    • Taunton, Nerylla.  Antique Needlework Tools and Embroideries, 1997.  Pages 164-167 mention that several needle makers produced brass novelty cases that are generally referred to as “Averys”.  Horowitz and Mann’s research and book acknowledged also a classification into flats, quadruples and figurals.  Nature inspired themes (bee, bird, scallop shell, and hedgehog, and floral designs) are listed as well as buildings, furniture, carts and baskets. Photographs are of Butterfly, Butterfly Quadruple, Beatrice and rare, Lady with Fan.

    • The Thimble Society of London, Volume 5, Issue 6, Spring 1995.  Page 17 mentions Avery and a photograph of the Butterfly is pictured on the back cover.

    • Thompson Helen Lester.  Sewing Tools and Trinkets: A Collectors Identification and Value Guide Volume 2, 2005.  Page 43 includes photographs of the Butterfly Quadruple, Robert's Unique, Sheaf of Wheat, Horseshoe and Beatrice.

    • Zalkin, Estelle.  Zalkin’s Handbook of Thimbles and Sewing Implements - A Complete Collector’s Guide with Current Prices, 1988.  Plate 15 includes photographs of the Universal, Horseshoe and Athena.

  5. Christie’s auction catalogue entitled Costume and Textiles Including the Dr. and Mrs. F. Horowitz and Family Collection of Needlework Tools (Estelle Horowitz collection) sale on 20 April 1993 (in the possession of Meinke).

  6. Christie’s auction catalogue entitled Thimbles and Needlework Tools Including the Collection of the Late Marion Wilson, 12 June 1996 (in the possession of Meinke).  Item 222.

  7. Monitoring sales on eBay from 2000-2016 (Meinke)

  8. Monitoring sales on eBay from 2010-2016 (Herrod)

  9. Photographs of items sold from the Ruth Mann collection between 2005-2007 (Bunny and David Gorfinkle).

  10. Bleasdales Limited auction catalogues (sewing tools only) from 2013-2016 (Meinke)

  11. Regular Internet searches at other online auction sites: Etsy, Ruby Lane and the Salesroom from 2014-2016 (Meinke and Herrod)

  12. Regular Internet searches at and (Meinke)

  13. Regular Internet searches using Google including Google images (Meinke)

Master List

To date 227 Avery style needle cases have been discovered.  Visit these pages to see photographs of each design as well as the original design registration or patent and gain knowledge about variations within each design.

master list icon

Avery Survey

In 2013 an Avery Survey was created in order to gather as much information as possible about Avery style needle cases from collectors and interested parties around the world.  The Avery Survey is easy to complete and gives you a chance to contribute to this important research.  Be sure and stop here to see the survey results.

survey icon

About Us

Learn how the author turned a hobby cross stitching antique sampler reproductions into a passion for collecting Avery needle cases resulting in a published book, a Wikipedia article, a TCI Bulletin article and conference presentation and this website.

sampler icon