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How to Wear a Brooch : Hat, pinned.

On the hatpin:

It would, when intelligently guided, pick a lock, open an ink bottle, furtively spear a pickle,” wrote the San Francisco Call of the hatpin’s growing popularity in 1898. It was nearly impossible to name all the uses of a hatpin, the writer adds, but one stuck out: just as women’s place in the public sphere grew, “all at once the sphere of the hatpin widened. The pin became a weapon of defense…Let the men who have been punctured by it examine their own consciences.”

Sondra Sherman, Brooch. One of a kind, stainless steel. $900

Originally invented to hold hold wimples and veils in place, the hatpin was traditionally handmade and the theft of these handmade pins was considered a hanging offense. In Britain taxes were levied to pay for the Queen’s pins and the purchase of handmade pins was limited to the first day of the New Year. Women saved for that ‘pin day’, the origin of the expression, “pin money”.

Considering the deadliest accessory in history, the hatpin as a hidden stabbing device was so effective for self-defense that manuals were published on proper usage.  

Manuals instructed women who were attacked from behind to reach for their hatpins, spin around, and stab their assailant in the face. Newspapers across the United States were dotted with stories of women who defended themselves or others with hatpins; one woman prevented a train robbery, while a news bulletin from Chicago heralded a woman’s stabbing of a man who “tried to put a chloroform rag over her nose.” On September 30, 1900, President Theodore Roosevelt remarked that he loved the “exhibition of strenuous life” by women who used their pins, saying that “no man, however courageous he may be, likes to face a resolute woman with a hatpin in her hand.”

Traditional hat pins are not worn so much anymore as the style of hats has changed, but the desire to display one’s individuality through adornment remains – why not grab that brooch (the lightweight one), pin it on, and take part in the long history of resolute women?