Friday, 28 February 2014

My small but growing hat pin collection

Remember my great-grandmother Dora? I shared some gorgeous pictures of her and her family and showed you the 1920s beaded pieces I am lucky enough to have that belonged to her (or possibly her mother).

Dora collected hat pins (among other things). Once I started making hats, my mother and grandmother would say what a shame it was that the collection didn't come to our side of the family, and I too wish that it had. Of course I am blessed to have as much lovely old family stuff as I do, and I try to remember that and enjoy these things.

You can't help indulging in a bit of wistful and wishful thinking though, and this has grown in me a fascination with hat pins. I plan to learn some jewellery making skills and make my own, but so far that hasn't happened, and instead I am starting to buy a small collection.

First, I bought a pin off ebay. I don't even think it is a hat pin, but some other-purposed pin, since it is so small (about 2 inches long). This was one of my big regret impulse online purchases (there's been a few), and I gave up on the hat pin idea for a while.

Then I went to lunch before Christmas with a very dear friend from work and got to meet her family. It was a bit of a "While You Were Sleeping" family event. (In my family, whenever a conversation is getting confused and going off in multiple and/or odd directions, you can say "These mashed potatoes are so creamy" and that sums it up!) If you aren't familar with the movie, what I mean is that I felt instantly welcomed into this warm and loving family, but it was also a bit crazy. In a good way. And I was given (given!) two family hat pins by my friend's lovely mother. Belonging, if I remember correctly, to her grandmother and great-grandmother.

One, by the length, I would say is Edwardian or Victorian, made to go through a large wide hat over some large wide hair.

The other is an interesting textile and metal combination, with a much shorter pin. I would guess at 1920s, but I'm not sure. In fact, I'm pretty clueless about hat pin eras, so I won't even guess for the rest.

So by this point I was starting to get hooked. At the trade show for the International Millinery Forum I saw a few vintage hat pins. There were a few I liked, but this one in particular had an unusual design that really appealed to me.

I cautiously asked how much, and was told $2! Mine! And some more thank you very much!

Finally, the latest addition, at $4 from an adorable little "Old Wares" shop on an otherwise-residential street corner in one of the suburbs surrounding Wollongong.

They are all a bit damaged, but so cute and charming. What do you think? Which is your favourite?


  1. I think my favourite is the mother of pearl one. Beautiful shape. Some of them are so fancy you wonder that they didn't clash with the hat!

    Would you want hat pins as presents or would you rather search them out yourself? That's become a problem with me and some of my collections - I get given stuff I don't really like and want in the collection but don't feel I can refuse.

    1. I think it's painted glass. Actually I am 99% sure because some of the paint has chipped off :) I agree with you about the shape, it's very lovely. Good point! You see so many simple hat pins and I don't bother with them, but for most hats I imagine they were the best choice. I suppose you accessorise the pins and the hats the way you would other parts of an outfit?

      Ooooh tough question. Thank you for the thoughtfulness! You are a good gift giver :) I think at this early stage of collecting that anything would fit in and be appreciated, and you can see everything I already have right here! But only cheap ones - they can get sooooooo expensive.

  2. What an absolutely beautiful collection you're cultivating here. I have a tiny number of understated (re: basis looking ;)) vintage hat pins and would very much like to add more, including some longer ones (mine are all quite short) over time - and use them. I put the ones that I do have to use quite frequently and am very grateful for them every time the wind picks up.

    ♥ Jessica

    1. I'd love to hear your thoughts on using hat pins, particularly on which styles and materials of hats you find them most useful for. I don't think I've noticed them in any of your photos, but I haven't been specifically looking.


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