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Planning Retirement Online

Family Treasures - Edition 13
                             January 2005 

Miller's Price Guide 

Purchase Miller's Price Guide 2004/2005

Family Treasures 13

Jill Churchill, who writes on antiques and collectables for YOURS magazine, continues her series.  


Hat pin hopefuls

Ascot may get the headlines for outlandish hats today, but there was a time, in the early 1900s, when almost everyone wore hats in everyday life. Millinery was big business, and a ‘walking out’ hat could be 2ft wide. The job of keeping such a monster secure meant hatpins were much in demand. Some hats had to be anchored in place

with a pin that had a shaft as long as 16in.
There were notices advising ladies of hat-pin dangers on London buses; and in Germany you were fined if your pins were worn with points unprotected.

More to the point

To be fashionable between, say 1890 and 1910, a lady would certainly have had a hatpin or two - or maybe two dozen The long pin was threaded through the crown of the hat, into the bundled-up hairdo of the day, then out the other side.
Thousands were sold, in designs for every occasion from grand to everyday - that’s what makes them so desirable to collect and display. In one auction not long ago, there were over 500 hatpins, divided into 14 ‘lots’.. Along with some china hatpin holders (also much collected), they sold for a total of around ?5,000 - virtually three times their reserve price.

Look for the silver spiral

The simplest pins are topped with black beads on a steel shaft and may be worth upwards of ?5. After that, the more jewel-like or novel the pin, the higher the price. Top favourites are pins with swirly spiral silver tops marked CH for maker Charles Horner. Many collectors specialise in the works of this Halifax-based silversmith. Other pins that can push up the bidding are those flaunting a jaunty sports motif - say, a golf club. Or that perennially popular motif, a heart . Or an owl - lots of people collect owls.

Sheer bling

Expert Ian Harris speaks from the retail point of view - he runs N Bloom, a Mayfair shop specialising in fine jewellery. He admits that he sells few hatpins as such - but he’s seen many pendants and brooches that started life on a hat. “Most gem-encrusted pins - especially with tops an inch or so across - were remodelled in the 1920s or 30s. But if you’re very lucky, your might still find a genuinely jewelled pin that a lady ancestor was given by an admirer!” he says. “They were considered very tasteful gifts in the 1880s. Always ask a jewellery expert to check if you are unsure about, for instance, diamonds, sapphires or rubies.”

Ian also advises collectors to look out for pins topped with what appears to be polished marble or hardstone. These could be what the Americans call ‘Scottish pebbles’ - which are becoming something of a craze among American customers who claim Scots ancestry!

Finding out more

Read: Hat Pins by Eve Eckstein and June Firkins (Shire Publications Ltd) ?2.95, post free. Tel 01844 344301

The Hat Pin Society of Great Britain website: .

Previous editions:

Family Treasures - 1

Family Treasures - 2

Family Treasures - 3

Family Treasures - 4

Family Treasures - 5

Family Treasures - 6

Family Treasures - 7

Family Treasures - 8

Family Treasures - 9

Family Treasures - 10

Family Treasures - 11

Family Treasures - 12

Family Treasures - 13

For subsequent editions - see the laterlife interest index



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