Collecting: Vintage Pins

The original little pin that I purchased in Ohio.
The original little pin that I purchased in Ohio.

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.

I got this pin at the State Fair of Texas when I was in elementary school.
I got this pin at the State Fair of Texas when I was in elementary school.

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.

A Limited Express pin that I wore during college. It was new then, but would be considered vintage now!
A Limited Express pin that I wore during college. It was new then, but would be considered vintage now!

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.

One of my favorite pins. So detailed.
One of my favorite pins. So detailed.

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.

These are some of my favorite costume pins. Most are from the early 2000s, but the bottom pearl and brown pins were my grandmother's pins.
These are some of my favorite costume pins. Most are from the early 2000s, but the bottom pearl and brown pins were my grandmother’s pins.

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 cameos can be worn as pins are pendants.
These cameos can be worn as pins or pendants.
The back of the cameo on the left shows who the owner was and is dated 1884.
The back of the cameo on the left shows who the owner was and bears two dates.

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.

Some of my favorite little pins are sterling. I love the Scottie dog, which looks a lot like my Westie, Archie.
Some of my favorite little pins are sterling. I love the Scottie dog, which looks a lot like my Westie, Archie.

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.

Bow shaped pins.
Bow shaped pins.

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.

Floral and leaf figural pins.
Floral and leaf figural pins.

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.

Bar shaped pins.
Bar shaped pins.

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!

Some of my favorite old pins...all are so small and delicate.
Some of my favorite old pins…all are so small and delicate.

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.

Animal and insect shaped pins.
Animal and insect shaped pins. The lion I had custom-made. The cat is a costume piece that belonged to my Aunt E.

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.

Stick pins...some old and some from the 1970s. The stick pin on the left was a gift from Ford Motor Company.
Stick pins…some old and some from the 1970s. The stick pin on the left was a gift from Ford Motor Company.

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.

A display case of random pins.
A display case of random pins.

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.

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These pins were made to hold a watch. I know the round watch on the right did not come with the seed pearl fleur-de-lis pin, as I purchased both separately. However, the watch was made for such a pin as it is readable by the wearer when pinned to the chest or hanging from a necklace. It looks upside down to others. The burgundy watch on the left was purchased with the gold pin; however, since the face of the clock is oriented right side up, it was not intended to be used for a pin or necklace.
The backside of these pins.
The backside of these pins. I have a penchant for fleur-de-lis.
A grouping of filigree pins on a sweater.
A grouping of filigree pins on a sweater.
Floral and leaf figural pins.
Floral and leaf figural pins.
This pin is actually a vase for holding a small posey.
This pin is actually a vase for holding a small poesy.
The small cavity is perfect for holding a small flower.
The small cavity is perfect for holding a small flower.
Travel related pins. The top two pins (the left pin is a kilt pin known as a dirk) are from Scotland; the bottom right pin is a souvenir pin from the HMS Queen Mary; and the pin on the left is a handpainted Russian pin.
Travel related pins. The top two pins (the left pin is a kilt pin known as a dirk) are from Scotland; the bottom right pin is a souvenir pin from the HMS Queen Mary; and the pin on the left is a hand-painted Russian pin which has split over time.
These ocean related pins are fun to wear.
These ocean related pins are fun to wear.
An engraved nautilus shell pin holds fond memories of my sorority, Kappa Delta.
The backside of the nautilus shell pin reveals an engraved message and brings back fond memories of my sorority, Kappa Delta.

2 thoughts on “Collecting: Vintage Pins

  1. Love your pin collection. I have several pins that belonged to my Grandmother, and my Great Grandmother. I remember my Grandmother and I going garage selling and buying pins that I still have to this day.

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