Ouchy! That hurts and other antiques that’ll really stick it to you: Hat Pins, a primer.

Published May 19, 2015 by AntiqueMystique1
hat pins (variety)

Ouch! That’s a sharp collection.

Hope you’re updated on your tetanus shot just in case. This blog I’m focusing solely on my all time favorite antique: hatpins.

Why are they so intriguing? You can’t just have one hat pin (or hats, for that matter).

Hat pins were produced as far back as 1832, and when bonnets were the ‘in-fashion’ hat pin popularity really began to take off and remained so throughout the early part of the last Twentieth century. In 1908 laws were passed here in the US limiting the length of the hat pin because there were fears that Suffragettes would use them as a weapon.

In 1910 ordinances were passed that required all hat pin points to be covered. The poor woman would use a piece of cork, and perhaps an affluent woman would have used something more ornamental. Hat pins fell out of popularity by the mid-Twenties.

Hat pins… now there’s a light weight item to collect. Also, the length of hat pins could range anywhere from 6” on up to 18” inches. This was so the Victorian woman (think of the Gibson girl) would use the long hat pins to secure their hair pieces and hat in place to their heads. Back in the day the swept up look was in vogue. Hair pieces were how a Victorian and Edwardian woman styled their hair.

My great grandmother and my dad’s mom collected hat pins. Between them, I don’t know how many they had. I was fortunate enough to be given some of my great grandma’s hat pins before she passed away and others are mourning hat pins and belonged to her mother, I believe. Since neither of my grandmas are here, I can’t ask for clarification.

My hat pin journey took me to Colorado. I fell in love with this one certain hat pin (era unknown), but the price would make you faint. The antique store was asking $275. Yep, for one hat pin with an inset emerald jewel, filigree gold-like top with tiny dangle pearls. It never occurred to me if I could have taken a picture of that hat pin. It was locked up in a tall standing China cabinet. It was more than I ever wanted to pay for a hat pin, but sure was beautiful. Time passed by and the same hat pin remained a staple in the store. I don’t know what the fascination with it was or why I liked it out of several others in the cabinet. Perhaps it stood out the most.

I began collecting hat pins in 2006-07’. The eras vary, earliest probably from 1900’s the latest being 1930s-40s. The designs are ‘no frills here’. Most of the tops are made from porcelain. And a few colorful hat pins.

How much should I pay for a hat pin?

That depends on how much you think its worth. If you think $275 is a fair price, that’ll be what you’ll pay. If you think no more than $9 is a better deal (and you plan to re-sell them) you might be surprised what you’ll get out of them. I would recommend always doing your research before listing any hat pin, this way you can sell it for a reasonable price and not be taken advantage of.

I’m no expert on hat pins. In fact, I would likely caution against wearing them, but the choice is entirely yours to make. I would be afraid of losing a family heirloom, personally. But if its something that came from an estate sale and you have plenty of these, then wearing them occasionally would be okay.

What style of hat goes good with hat pins?

Avoid the baseball caps. I would recommend shopping around for a vintage hat. Cloche hats are more of a Roaring Twenties style and ‘bell-shaped’. A wide brim hat might work or even a porkpie hat too and some of the Sixties pill box hats might be an option. I didn’t think much of the Thirties hats. I had two of them, one black velvet, the other rust colored and fit on top of the head and didn’t offer much in way of covering.

What type of hat pin holders would I recommend?

Oh, boy. They come in all shapes, sizes, colors, floral patterns, ceramic, porcelain, metal, celluloid, etc. And the makers will vary as well, so you’d have to shop around would be my best advice.

Never use a salt shaker, really?

Well, from an online article I’ve read by one hat pin collector, they bypass the salt shakers like a plague. And it’s all just a matter of personal preference. I use antique salt shakers to hold my hat pins. Hat pin holders were once the impossible dream of ownership because most were expensive. I always said I’d never pay more than a dollar for an original hat pin holder. I have a lovely one with chips and lots of character. I don’t get uptight if the hat pin holder has flaws. The likelihood it would be that one high dollar item that accidentally gets knocked off a shelf would be probable, at best. That’s why I don’t invest too much in antiques (in general) either because of the ‘breakage’ and fragility concerns.

Hat pins… they turn up. The least expensive hat pin I’ve seen to date was $29. But I still feel this way more than I’d ever want to spend. What’s the real value of a hat pin to a serious die-hard collector, however? Priceless. Thanks for reading!


2 comments on “Ouchy! That hurts and other antiques that’ll really stick it to you: Hat Pins, a primer.

  • I did not know that about the Suffragettes/hat pin law – fascinating! (as Spock would say, LOL) It’s funny but if I am at an antiques show, etc, I always pause and look at the hat pins because I remember my grandmother having had them in one of those holders on her dresser. My mother, of course, would invariably jump in to remind me “Don’t touch! They’re very sharp and you’ll stick your finger!” (she was a helicopter mom long before the term was invented) Naturally she’d never have such a deadly object in our own house, LOL

    Some of the Art Deco style celluloid hat pins from the 1920s can be very striking. When I had a shop on Etsy I had one that at one end was shaped like an elongated two-flavor ‘twist’ ice cream cone, hand painted in green and back and set with brilliant blue and red rhinestones. Normally I didn’t offer hat pins but that one was so unusual that I couldn’t resist. If it had been smaller (was 6”long if I recall correctly) I’d have been tempted to keep it to use as a brooch!

    • Yep, my grandmother used to keep hers on a rickety old end table smack dab against a wall under a window without any space to get in or out of her guest bed. I remember the evening I was helping clear out her house after she passed away and almost knocking those hat pins and the holder on the floor! I certainly wasn’t LOL. And thankfully the table they were on didn’t collapse under their weight (ha, ha). That’s why I keep mine in the far back on my book case. Oh, yes, I’ve seen many art deco hat pins for sale locally but boy howdy, they want an arm and leg for them and since their celluloid I really don’t want to add any more potential fire hazards waiting to happen with my precious antiques. I agree, my mom’s the same way with “Don’t touch!”

      That hat pin you describe sounds lovely! I believe I recently put one in a lot with a black twist (resembles a macaroni spiral) and the others I decided to put up for auction are some kind of material not porcelain or celluloid though and they’re painted black with some paint fleck. The others I believe were made very inexpensively though. I plan to start the bid at $9 for the hat pins and the salt shaker (holder) they came with and hope someone out there might want them. Thanks for your comment. 🙂

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