WHEN you consider the art of sewing is thought to date back to prehistoric human history, a collection of thousands of thimbles could seem somewhat modest.

But for one Canvey woman, finding a home for her 5,000 thimbles is proving to be something of a mammoth undertaking.

Kathleen Rastall, 72, of Kings Park Village off Creek Road, is appealing to museums to take the impressive collection off her hands and preserve them for future generations to enjoy but has so far been unsuccessful in her quest.

The multi-coloured trinkets come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes including cats, dogs, angels, and even Peter Rabbit.

Mrs Rastall said: “I have a big unit in my house where I keep them and my partner has built lots of shelves but it’s getting to the stage where my walls are covered in cabinets. A lot of them are even still in storage.

“I’ve tried the Dutch Cottage Museum and the Heritage Centre but neither of them have the space or the capacity to insure them unfortunately. I just want them to go to a museum where they can continue to be enjoyed by others.”

It is thought the earliest known example of a thimble dates back to ancient China, after being found in a tomb dating between 206BC to 202AD.

However, the oldest in this collection is thought to date back to 1838, with others spanning right up to the present day.

Mrs Rastall received her first thimble as a gift when she was around 13, a memento passed down through her family.

Her interest then spiralled after she started her own craft business in the 1980s.

The collection grew dramatically after she recently agreed to take over custodianship of around 2,000 thimbles from a close friend.

But now, after 30 years collecting the intricate objects, she is finally ready to say goodbye.

Mrs Rastall said: “A lot of them have some sort of story behind them, whether it is in the making of them or how they came to be in my possession. I do look them up online as its so interesting to find out why and where they were made. One of them I found out even has links to the Guy Fawkes gunpowder plot.

“I’m not getting any younger and I would really like them to be preserved so that others can enjoy looking at them as much as I have enjoyed collecting them.”