As my experience in tatting grew, so did my lust for tatting shuttles, wood ones, plastic, metal, shell, pearl, abalone, vulcanite, bakelite, I wanted them all! My collection grew and grew. And then I discovered the "Holy Grail" of tatting shuttles, the Lydia Pinkham shuttle. The shuttle was of ivory-colored celluloid and had a pick or point on one blade. And emblazoned on the front was a portrait of 'Lydie' herself. The reverse side had an advertisement forů yes, you guessed it, Lydia E. Pinkham's Vegetable Compound. It was years and years before I found one for sale and then I passed on it as it was too expensive for my budget. But my sweet DH learned of it and purchased it for me as a birthday present. And, gosh I appreciated that shuttle so much more than that ol' vacuum cleaner I got the year before, and a whole lot more than the flannel nightgown a few years earlier. [A flannel nightgown for a wife with hot flashes? Geez.]
A prize in any collection of tatting shuttles, the Lydia Pinkham still is much desired. Lydia authored several publications and offered advertising premiums for subscriptions. The premiums were useful items, such as sewing kits, a knife, tape measures, a flower sachet, lipstick mirror, thermometer, leather medicine kit, a manicure set, and dishes, too. But Lydia had a special survey in her pubs of 1917 and 1921. For completing this questionnaire, the reader would receive a free tatting shuttle (well marked with advertising for the Vegetable Compound, of course), and instructions for its use. Upon request, a copy of Lydia's " Private Text-book upon Ailments Peculiar to Women" would be included also. (Charges of obscenity were brought because of this text and others written by Lydia in an attempt to educate women on the workings of the female body.)
This shuttle is still so highly prized among colllectors that in recent years forgeries have been increasing. Close examination of the face of Lydia herself will determine authenticity. A real Pinkham shuttle will show a realistic photo, the forgery shows an image composed of dots (think pixels) For an example please visit the website of Daniel Rusch-Fischer, http://www.tribbler.com/tatman/pinkham-forgery.html
Here is an example of a real Lydia Pinkham shuttle from the collection of Deborah Smiddy.
For more details please consult: Tatting Shutttles of American Collectors , Heidi Nakayama 2002 pg 66-67 on Lydia Pinkham.
And see another Pinkham shuttle and the tatting of Wahneta Dunn at:
Lydia Estes Pinkham, 1819-1883, developed an herbal tonic which she gave to family and friends as an remedy for female troubles. Her entire family became involved in the production of the product starting in 1875. Soon Lydia's tonic was being mass produced. It continued in production as was until the Food and Drug Administration required that the percent of alcohol in the "remedy" be reduced to 10%. And, it is still available today. http://www.lydiapinkham.com/