It seems that even a little thing such as a stick pin has a fascinating history. At around 2-1/2 inches long in general, they have always been shorter than hat pins. These pins were first created in the early 19th century as a way for men to secure their cravats.
Here we depart for a short story about cravats: Although ancient Romans had their versions of neckware (perhaps as hopeful protections against spears), it was Croatian mercenaries working for Louis XIV who made a fashion statement with their elaborate cravats in the 17th century. (Cravat Day is today celebrated in Croatia every October 18.) Cravats then became important parts of the costumes for European officers and others. When Charles II returned to England from exile in 1660, he also returned with the latest word in fashion: “A cravatte is another kind of adornment for the neck being nothing else but a long towel put about the Collar, and so tyed before with a Bow Knott.” (Randle Holme, “Academy of Armory and Blazon,” 1688.)
In its evolution into many different forms, the need for a method for keeping the cravat from flying about was born. After the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, cravats increasingly became known as neckties. Around the same time, elegant women discovered that pins used for men’s cravats could also be used for scarves and other articles of clothing. The fight among jewelers to create increasingly decorative and often jeweled stick pins began, lasting through the entire span of the Victorian era.
The pins themselves were often of gold or silver. These were usually hardened by twisting or hammering to give them additional strength, especially in the middle where bending was more likely to occur. Today, they are used as ornamentation by both sexes, even though men’s tie pins have been out of fashion for many years. Of course, interesting, decorative and often bejeweled antique stick pins are also a popular collectible in their own right.
In this adorable Victorian gold stick pin, the bee has been realistically designed with easily recognizable wings, body, head, eyes and legs. It is multi-sided to some extent to give it a more naturalistic impression of a flying bee. The wings were outlined by raising a border around them. This raised work is also prevalent in the large body of our bee.
The body is striped by virtue of the way the gold is decorated, as it is finely etched in between narrow and rounded raised stripes. The whole effect is one of enchantment. It dates to around 1890.
The condition is excellent for its age and use. There are two longer legs on the back of the bee that protrude from its center. One of these is slightly bent, resulting in its being turned up. Otherwise, there is nothing to report.
The bee’s wingspan measures ¾ of an inch and it is ½ of an inch from the tip of its head to the end of its body. The entire pin, including the bee, measures 2-7/8 inches long.