The Collecting Bug: Pins, Pins, Pins

Got Pins?



What does that word bring to mind for you?

Depending on your circumstances, it can mean a lot of different things.

You can pin your opponent in a wrestling match.

Once upon a time, couples took their relationship to the next level by getting pinned (so named because the young man would give his girlfriend his fraternity pin).

There are bowling pins, hair pins, bobby pins, and rolling pins. You can be a pin-up, have a pin put in your knee, pin a calendar to the wall, a post to the top of your Facebook feed, or a recipe to a Pinterest board.

Gold Pin, Mycenaean, Late Helladic IIIA period c. 14th century BC, a gift of the Rogers Fund 1954, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, NY

But the most common usage of the word brings to mind an implement used to fasten clothing together, as in a safety pin. Objects that were believed to have been used for that very purpose were identified as far back as the 14th century BC.

Throughout the ages, pins have been constructed of every type of material imaginable. From bone, wood, and ivory, to metals including iron, brass, gold, silver, and steel, for thousands of years humans have used some form of them to secure garments. Luckily, ancient civilizations including the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans recognized the benefit of adorning pins to make them visually appealing. Jewels, enamel, stones, and paint were all used to decorate these necessary items, thus increasing their value and beautifying the wearers.


These days, pins are still useful, although more modern inventions have brought faster, easier, and more time efficient ways of keeping clothing together. So we’re left with a wealth of lovely and interesting pins, now considered jewelry and primarily used for a delightful addition to a scarf or to brighten a lapel.

I have two aunts that live in upstate New York, tucked up in the Adirondack Mountains. The upper east coast of the US has such a different dynamic in terms of history and culture. Crisp autumn days are spent eating warm cider doughnuts from local apple orchards, basking in the glorious foliage that signals the changing season, and scouring church, yard, and garage sales, throughout New York, New Hampshire, and Vermont for treasures. My aunts have found many pretty, fascinating pins over the years, and have generously shared with me as both gifts and allowing me to pilfer when I visit.

The bulk of my pin “collection” has come from them, supplemented with birthday and Christmas presents from friends and other family, giveaways, memento souvenirs, and finds of my own in shops and at sales. I adore going through the things other people collect, so I thought I would share some collections of mine, starting with my pins.

This first grouping is stick and bar pins, with a few other oddities thrown in. The USO pin near the upper left hand corner, and the tiny pair of wings midway on the right side are newer additions, found when I was helping a friend’s church prepare for their Fall sale. The wings have a small shield in the middle with the letters ‘US’ on it.


The bar pin in the middle of the grouping with the four end to end oval opals, a gift from my New York aunties, is a favorite, as is the one with the two green enameled leaves with stones scattered around them.




pins12The pin below I bought at a local Goodwill Store for .25¢. It has a very Art Nouveau feel to it and I love the lavender and deep blue colored glass stones.pins14If you can’t tell, it is impossible to photograph. pins22This one was also fairly challenging as far as getting a good photo of it went. It’s very small, a little bit on the plain side, and very tiny, but I just love it.pins16These are in a random grouping. Some are really fun like the cupcake, the yellow polka dot mushroom, and the Ruth Bader Ginsberg pin. The painted enamel ‘R’ pin to the lower left of the three lady bugs, is one that I’ve had for a very long time. It’s definitely a sentimental favorite.pins2Although it’s missing several stones, this celluloid giraffe with colored rhinestones is one of my favorites.pins21This stylized cat pin is sterling and needs a proper polishing.pins19For my girls…pins25These are a couple of pins that I keep in special boxes. The rabbit is made out of seashells and adorned with sparkly plastic discs and tiny pearls. It’s very fragile and this vintage jewelry box is the perfect size to keep it in one piece.pins3This lovely porcelain bouquet pin is also easily chipped, so I leave it in the black velvet box it was given to me in.pins4This is where it all started, with bow pins. Most of these came from my aunts or were gifts from my mom. I love all of these and would be hard pressed to choose a favorite. It would be more fair to say that they’re all my favorites, as a group.pins5The small white enamel bow pin near the bottom was the pin that led to all the rest, and although it wasn’t my first, when I brought it home from a New York trip, I brought the pin collecting bug with me, as well.

These pins are mostly floral motifs. I’m particularly fond of the one with the three white flowers and multicolored stones.pins6

pins11Obviously these are the round ones and the ones with celestial elements. The small pin with the crescent and the single blue enamel flower is lovely. I think the crescent and flower with the clear stones (with a few missing) is my first pin out of all of these included in this post. I remember wearing it many years ago.pins7In this final grouping there are lots of stones, beads, enamel and flowers. The one in the center at the bottom with the dark blood red and lime green swirls in the middle is probably my favorite of this group. I believe all of these were from my aunts.pins8Here’s the entire collection. I need to clean them up and make a few repairs (replace some stones and polish the sterling ones), but I enjoy going through and looking at them as much as I enjoy wearing them.pins9Do you have any fun, cool, or special pins? Tell me about them in the comments.

One thought on “The Collecting Bug: Pins, Pins, Pins

  1. It’s so cool that pins were made of bone a while ago. My daughter has started collecting pins so I’ve been thinking of getting her some for Christmas. She keeps them all on her backpack and it looks really unique!


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