Hatpins reached a peak of popularity between the 1890s and 1920s, as music hall actresses like Lillian Russell and Lillian Langtry fueled the popularity of large elaborate hats without bonnet strings. Having originated in the 1850s to secure straw hats, hatpins became longer and more ornate over time (1910 was the height of hatpin length, with the stems alone reaching 10 to 12 inches).
The mass produced white or black bead on a pin was the basic 'working girl' hatpin, but many high end hatpins were made by jewelers of brass, copper, sterling silver, gold, or gold or silver wash. Other materials included Carnival glass, rhinestones, hand blown molded glass, micro mosaic, or hand painted or transferred porcelain like the Japanese Satsuma. There were also hatpins made with ivory, emeralds, stone, amber, tortoise shell, jet, celluloid and other plastics, mother of pearl, and coral.
Key hatpin manufacturers included Unger Brothers, Lincoln, William Kerr, Alvin Manufacturing, R. Blackington and Company, Day and Clarke, and The Sterling Company. Notable hatpin designers included Charles Horner, Louis Tiffany, William Codman, James T. Wooley, Barton Jenks, and George Gebelein.
Hatpins spanned many styles including Baroque, Etruscan Revival, Greek Revival, Egyptian Revival, Oriental influence, Arts and Crafts, Art Nouveau and even Art Deco, before waning around WW1 when metals became scarce and hats got smaller.
Collectors also seek specialized hatpins, including hallmarked hatpins, hatpins that serve vanities, opera hatpins, and compact hatpins that have a mirror and a powder puff. Amethyst and pearls are popular, as well as Plique-a-Jour enamel. Hatpin holders are also sought after.
Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)
American Hatpin Society
All About Jewels Dictionary
The Scrap Album
Stevengraphs Bookmarks and Postcards
Morning Glory Antiques and Jewelry
Cathy Gordon's Jewelry Gallery
Clubs & Associations
- American Hatpin Society
- Hat Pin Society of Great Britain
- American Society of Jewelry Historians
- Society of Jewellery Historians
Other Great Reference Sites
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Recent News: Hatpins and Hatpin Holders
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Einstein waged unceasing battle to maintain private lifeBuffalo News, April 25th
Marie Dickson, a deranged Russian widow, forced her way into his Berlin apartment brandishing a weapon (according to some reports a revolver, in others a hat pin). Luckily, Elsa Einstein found a ruse to protect her husband, upstairs in his study, while...Read more
At The Heart Of A Watch, Tested By TimeWHQR, April 24th
If the Apple Watch takes off, and ultimately, it or some other smart watch is likely to take hold, heirloom watches could end up in the junk heap of history or left in a box like Great-Grandma's pearl hatpin, rarely seeing the light of day. A few die...Read more
Rockford Area Historical Society News and UpdatesRockford Squire, April 24th
Above the hats is a case of hat pins. Over twenty five are on display. A victory quilt from World War II has the names of over 200 people of all ages on it. Throughout the museum there are eleven signs that read “For Kids Only”. There are sixteen parts...Read more
Jewelry of Harry Bertoia on display at CranbrookThe Detroit News, April 21st
The answer, a silver and ceramic hatpin from 1943 now owned by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, is one of the most striking pieces on display, looking a bit like a mock-up of planetary orbits around an imaginary sun. Walking out of the show, you might...Read more
The world's fair that changed San FranciscoKALW, April 20th
People crowd around to see the hat pins, button hooks, and souvenir shoes on display. And there are lots of people who want to show her parts of their own collections. Several enthusiasts come dressed up as figures who attended the fair in 1915. Thomas ...Read more
Mother's Day 'Hat Pin' event reception slated for May 9 in LambertvilleNJ.com, April 15th
At the event, guests are invited to pick a pin (from hundreds of vintage hat pins, stick pins, and European advertising pins) and 'pin' one of ten original oil. At the end of the event, one lucky 'pinner' goes home with the original oil painting...Read more
Bena Mae's Kitchen: Hairnets, Hatpins and Old NostalgiaThe News Journal, April 14th
Many people of my generation remember with fondness and sadness the glory days of the dime stores...McCrory's, McClellens's, Grants, Kresses and other names too numerous to mention. Included among these retail stores back then that were the hub of ...Read more
Hat, Pins Stolen from Pocono Marine Veteranwnep.com, March 10th
STROUDSBURG — Someone in the Poconos stole a hat from a gas station in Stroudsburg last weekend, but it's not just a hat. On it were three invaluable pins that belonged to a retired Marine. Daniel Jeffreys of Delaware Water Gap works at the Weis Gas ...Read more