History of hatpins

Hatpins. If you wear hats, you most likely have to wear a hatpin. You may see varied lengths at antique shops, which correspond to the era/type of hat. In the 1900s when hats were large and elaborate, so were the hatpins. They could be simple, something to go with all the hats you have, or something ornate, sometimes matching one hat in particular, or being made of fine metals and jewels. At this time pins could reach up to thirteen inches, and were thought of as a weapon for Victorian women, as you can see in the illustration below.


They were so threatening that one judge ordered suffragettes to remove their hats and hatpins, just in case they used them as weapons in his court.

 Even Arkansas and Illinois passed bills limiting the length of a ladies hatpin to 9 inches, or if you must have a more lengthy pin, you would need a permit for it.

 "Excuse me ma'am, do you have a permit for that?" 

 The 1920s saw tight cloches as the height of fashion, so hatpins, if ever used, were generally decorative. Usually more like stick pins (you can tell the difference between the two by length). However after the 1920s, they were needed again, only this time on a much smaller scale. 


Some hatpins you may come across are rusted, bent out of shape, or just plain dirty. For stubborn rust, gently scrape some steel wool along metal areas. For general dirt and grime, wash in mild soap and water, using a clean toothbrush to get to nooks and crannies. Though I would recommend taking fine metal and jeweled pins to a jeweler for cleaning, just to be safe. To keep your pins from becoming dull and rusted, stick them in a traditional tomato pin cushion, and sharpen them a bit using the emery sharpener (the little attached bit). For bent pins, take them to a professional, they can fit them right up for you! 

Stay tuned for how to wear hat pins, and any questions you would like answered are most welcome! 

 Information sources: American Hatpin Society, (and 1st photo source) Bartitsu Society


Jessi-Neide said...

oh i love the illustration, it made me laugh!
though i love this informative little guide!

Monique Rondeau said...

I always wondered how you sharpen them. Thanks for the tip!

Betty2Tone said...

omg I love the idea of some dainty lady shanking someone with a hat pin

Unknown said...

The first image is brilliant!
I have a gorgeous collection of hat pins, and they are an essential!

Paris of The Vintage Look

Lenora Jane said...

I love that there is an American Hatpin Society.

Emma Litton said...

Haha, how wonderful! I'm so excited for the next post :)


Annalise said...

I love hat pins, but feel the need to collect more. I love all the information you gave about how to clean them and that they were ever used as weapons. Crazy!

kat said...

that was really interesting, thank you!


Charlotte said...

Yay for hatpins! I have a pretty pitiful collection, especially since charity shops and the like never have them, but I'm always on the lookout at antique fairs and car boot sales.

xx Charlotte
Tuppence Ha'penny

ikealea said...

hatpins... when i was little my grandma let me play with hers and for some reason i always believed that women would need to pluck them through their scalp, so they always made my skin crawl a little. my granny for some reason did never discourage my false belief... :D

Unknown said...

What a great post and i'm loving that Victorian picture. :) Hehe i'm really excited for your next post.

Alli said...

Thanks for posting about this....I was always curious about the history behind them. I'm not a hat wearer, but I find them fascinating :)

Casey Maura said...

I always knew my hat pins could come in handy if I ever needed a weapon! lol. Got to love those crazy Victorian ladies and their hatpins--though the permit thing for long hat pins cracks me up! haha. Can't wait to read part two!!!

Nuranar said...

Fun post! I particularly appreciate the run-down of different lengths/types in different times, and how 1920s hats didn't need them. Reminds me of the Agatha Christie story from the early 1920s, in which a man was killed with a hatpin. Fashion was pretty important in solving that one! ;)

Anna said...

Perfect timing! My aunt gave me a '50s-ish boater hat that I'll need a hat pin for and I've been doing some etsy scouring but tips are always welcome.

BaronessVonVintage said...

Fantastic post! Great visuals!!