Many years ago, while scouring the largest antiques mall in Ohio, I ran across the most beautiful old, 14k filigree lapel pin with one tiny pearl dotting the center of the swirl of gold. It was love at first sight. I was happy to pay $20 for this beauty, even though money was tight.
Well, my pin collecting actually started before then. At the State Fair of Texas, I gathered a number of Heinz pickle pins when I was in elementary school. Somewhere, I still have a paper bag full of them.
In the ’90s, I often visited antique stores in Ohio. There I fell in love with 10k and 14k filigree lapel pins of all shapes and sizes. Some had seed pearls, sapphires, European cut diamonds, enamel, and other decorations. There were small pins, stick pins, watch pins, and lacey pins that found their way into my collection.
Since then, I have found some of the prettiest little works of art in antique stores, garage sales, jewelry stores and eBay. From silver to gold, diamonds to sapphires, fragile to robust, I have acquired an appreciation for these relics.
Cameos are of particular interest to me. They come in so many colors, shapes and sizes, with varying carvings. I have three or four I have collected, including a necklace I inherited from my mom that features a cameo set in sterling silver, marcasite setting.
These wearable works of art have adorned lapels, coats, collars, sweaters, gloves, purses, chokers, headbands and hair dos. Worn alone or in groupings, they add a polished look to any outfit.
Wasn’t it Kate Spade who said something such as she could wear the same clothes everyday as long as she could change her jewelry? Well pins are one of the great ways to change the look of an outfit.
The most unexpected use of pins, such as on purses, gloves, cuffs, chokers, headbands, hats or hair, seem to create the interesting looks. Take the classic diamond starburst pin that Jackie Kennedy used in her hair, placed on her chest in the middle of a bow or the middle of a plain, princess seamed bodice on a formal. That same pin has been seen on Caroline Kennedy’s waistline in more recent years. These women don’t just stop with putting pins on their chest.
Pins, in and of themselves, are whimsical pieces. There are priceless jeweled pins that are barely hanging onto fabric (or hair) by a slim pin and a few fibers. I have only lost one pin, which was soon retrieved from the restaurant where it fell off. If I ever did lose a pin for good, I think it would feel like losing a friend.
Have you ever noticed how Queen Elizabeth puts her large, old diamond pins/brooches everywhere? Multiple pins cascade down sashes, adorning every evening gown she has ever worn. She might have one on each shoulder!
I have gathered bar pins, stick pins, hat pins, lapel pins, watch pins, figural pins, and jeweled pins and brooches. Some are sterling, some 9K, 10K, 14K or 18K, some platinum. Some are even gold or silver tone. I group old with new and high-end pieces with very simple, modest pieces.
Since I started collecting, prices have gone up considerably. There are still deals to find, but these days you are more likely to spend $80 to $150 for a simple pin.
Several of the pins I treasure most were inherited from my parents. My dad was a Ford dealer so he received several award and promotional pins through the years. When the Mustang was reintroduced by Ford, my dad received a gold mustang tie tack and my mom was given a gold mustang stick pin. My dad had several pins from Ford for sales and service, while my mom received service pins from the school district where she taught. These are very special to me, so I enjoy looking at them, rather than wearing them.
When not wearing my pins, I have a display case I use to keep some where I can enjoy seeing them. It can be used on a countertop or as a wall hanging. Another option would be to display them in a glass top table.
I will leave you with a few photos of some of my favorite pins.