The Victorian era is a constant source of fun for collectors with almost anything being noteworthy as long as it doesn’t take up too much space and, preferably, comes in a huge variety of shapes, colours and sizes. The hatpin is a winner. Here’s an article from the Collectors Weekly which gives you all the low-down. I’m quite tempted myself.
Hatpins reached a peak of popularity between the 1890sand 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 specialised 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.