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Collectible Hatpins

Antique hatpins are long, stick-like objects designed to hold hats in place on women's heads. Many women used them to hold lightweight straw hats in place, but they were also used to secure cloth headdresses and other types of headwear. If you’re interested in collecting hatpins, which are often ornate like jewelry, then understanding their different parts and the main periods when they were made can help you decide which ones to choose.

What are the parts of a hatpin?

Hatpins are made up of three distinct parts. The head contains the ornament of the pin, which varies based on the style that was popular during the time when the pin was produced. The second part is the crimped finding that’s used to connect the head to the shank. The finding is designed to hide the joint where the head and shank are connected. The finding is always in one piece on vintage hatpins. The third part of the pin is the shank, which is the long needle-like structure that’s stuck through the hat.

What types of hatpins are there?

A variety of materials are used to make hatpins, including silver, gold, brass, and glass. One option features a pin that has a button on its end. The button is there so that women can cover it with fabric to match their favorite dress. The heads of the pins are often very ornate, showing butterflies, leaves, flowers, or other designs. Pinheads could be made of amber, celluloid, enamels, ivory, shell, or stone. You may find some collectible button-head pins from after World War I that tell a love story. At that time, it was common for a woman to take a button off her boyfriend's or husband's shirt and attach it to the end of a hatpin before he went off to war.

What are some vintages of hatpins to consider?

There were three main periods when antique pins were made and commonly worn, and these are the pins that many people enjoy collecting. Different materials and embellishments were popular in each era. The types of pins you may find include:

  • Edwardian and Victorian hatpins - Pins of this period were usually made of brass with elaborate heads of metal or rhinestones. Many antique pins from this time showed a family crest on their heads.
  • Art Nouveau hatpins - These machine-manufactured pins feature intricate designs on their ends. They often depict the human form, celestial objects, or natural elements. Many craftsmen experimented with new materials during this time, using items such as pearls, coral, tortoiseshell, ivory, horn, crystal, and carved glass.
  • Art Decor hatpins - Starting in about 1900, pins often were exaggeratedly long and featured enormous gemstones. They sometimes have intricate pieces of art glass on the end of a silver pin. Other hatpin makers started twisting pieces of celluloid into intricate, curved designs.
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