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 pin from a club or fraternal organization).

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 group, 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, as well as functional. Jewels, enamel, stones, and paint were all used to decorate these functional items, thus increasing their value, significantly.


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. I love visiting in autumn. The air is crisp and the foliage is gorgeous. One of my favorite things to do when I visit is load up in their car and spend the day scouring yard, garage and church sales throughout rural New York, Vermont, and New Hampshire. 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 majority of my pins have 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.


The 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.


If you can’t tell, it is impossible to photograph.


It was also very challenging to get a good photo of this one, below. It’s very small, a little bit on the plain side, and very tiny, but I just love it.


These 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.


Although it’s missing several stones, this celluloid giraffe with colored rhinestones is one of my favorites.


This stylized cat pin is sterling and needs a proper polishing, but it’s so fun!


For my furry baby girls…


These are a couple of pins 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.


This lovely porcelain bouquet pin is also easily chipped, so I leave it in its black velvet box.


This 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.


The 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.




Obviously 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 several missing) is my very first pin. I remember wearing it many years ago.


In this final grouping there are lots of stones, beads, enamel and flowers. The one in the center at the bottom with the dark red and lime green enamel swirls is probably my favorite of this group. I believe all of these were from my aunts.


Here’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.


Do you have any fun, cool, or special pins? Tell me about them in the comments.

2 thoughts 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!

    Liked by 1 person

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