|Hairpin of Silver|
The Victoria & Albert Museum
The hairpin has been a part of a woman’s daily life since antiquity. Though these clever little items have fallen out of favor today, in large part, they enjoyed a long and happy existence, rising above their utilitarian roots to become decorative and even coveted objects of great monetary and personal value.
Here, we see a small hairpin which dates between 1850 and 1900. Made of cast silver, it heralds from Dalmatia, Croatia and takes the form of a bird standing on a flat vertical triangle. The bird depicted here is thought to be a cockerel—a traditional symbol of fertility. Such a pin would have been used to secure a headpiece to a rather complicated coiffure.
When we think of Dalmatia, we tend to have images of spotted dogs. In the Nineteenth century Dalmatia was a province of the Austro-Hungarian Empire—stretching from from Trieste (now in Italy) to the borders of modern Albania.