Hair Pin thumbnail 1
Hair Pin thumbnail 2
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Jewellery, Rooms 91 to 93 mezzanine, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery

Hair Pin

1800-1870 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place of origin

Most Swiss women wore decorative hairpins with their traditional costume, which varied from valley to valley. In central and eastern Switzerland they also varied by day. On weekdays the women wore a plain flat hairpin, widening at each end. On Sundays and feast days they exchanged these everyday pins for more decorative ones, like this. These were worn horizontally, or at a slight angle, on the back of the head, stuck through a thick plait. The plait could be made from its owner’s hair, but it was frequently augmented with false hair, or coloured ribbons. These decorative Sunday hair pins grew bigger and bigger throughout the 19th century, reaching a length of over 35cm by around 1900.

This pin is decorated with an elaborate filigree head, mixing plain and gilded silver in a way which is typical of Swiss filigree. It probably comes from the Berne region. It is marked on the front with the initials of an unknown maker, LEO, and other unidentified marks. It was bought for £1 6s at the International Exhibition, London, 1872.


Object details

Categories
Object type
Materials and techniques
Silver, partly gilded, with applied filigree
Brief description
Silver hair pin with decorative gilded filigree head, Berne (Switzerland), 1800-1870.
Physical description
Large hair pin with long flat stem with wavy sides widening at the top to a flat lozenge shape, gilded on the front. The top is decorated on the front with a curved, partly-gilded, filigree rosette, attached to the back plate by rivets, and supported in the centre by a short vertical tube. The filigree is decorated with applied lozenges, stars and coil rings.
Dimensions
  • Length: 26.0cm
  • Width: 7.6cm
  • Depth: 1.4cm
Marks and inscriptions
'LEO' (On the centre front of the stem, just below the head.)
Subject depicted
Summary
Most Swiss women wore decorative hairpins with their traditional costume, which varied from valley to valley. In central and eastern Switzerland they also varied by day. On weekdays the women wore a plain flat hairpin, widening at each end. On Sundays and feast days they exchanged these everyday pins for more decorative ones, like this. These were worn horizontally, or at a slight angle, on the back of the head, stuck through a thick plait. The plait could be made from its owner’s hair, but it was frequently augmented with false hair, or coloured ribbons. These decorative Sunday hair pins grew bigger and bigger throughout the 19th century, reaching a length of over 35cm by around 1900.

This pin is decorated with an elaborate filigree head, mixing plain and gilded silver in a way which is typical of Swiss filigree. It probably comes from the Berne region. It is marked on the front with the initials of an unknown maker, LEO, and other unidentified marks. It was bought for £1 6s at the International Exhibition, London, 1872.
Collection
Accession number
1320-1873

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Record createdJanuary 11, 2008
Record URL
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