Until the modern era, needles were a commodity and it would have been important to keep track of them. Needle holders offered people the chance to safely store their needles in an aesthetically pleasing case. This particular object is 1 ½ inches long and could have held a few small sewing needles.
For Further Thinking: Often historians uncover objects whose utilitarian purpose is unclear and they must theorize about their use. If you came across this object with no context, what purpose do you think you might have assigned to it?