Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Weapons of Self Defense: The Hat Pin

“When attacked from behind, she grasps a hatpin. Turning quickly, she is able to strike a fatal blow in the face.”
While I was browsing Aka Tombo's Blog last week, I found a great link to an article detailing the forgotten art of hat pin self defense from one of my favorite fashion eras, the Edwardian period.

From the Bartitsu Society:

The popular trend towards enormous, flamboyant hats reached its zenith during the Edwardian era. Circa 1901, fashionable ladies’ headwear featured elaborate assemblies of taffeta, silk bows, coloured ostrich feathers, flowers and even artificial fruit.

The mainstay of the Edwardian hat was the artfully concealed hatpin, and as the hats themselves grew ever larger, so too did the pins. Some antique examples are thirteen inches long and resemble nothing so much as unbated, miniature fencing foils.
A wealth of evidence from the period demonstrates that hatpins were popularly regarded as secret weapons, and indeed as “every woman’s weapon” against the depredations of hooligans and ill-mannered brutes. Laws against hatpins of “excessive length”, or the wearing of hatpins without protective stoppers, were proposed in Hamburg, Berlin and New York among other cities. At least ostensibly, these laws were intended not so much to ban the use of hatpins in self-defence as to mitigate the incidence of accidental hatpin related injuries inflicted upon blameless fellow passengers in crowded tram-cars.
The article goes on to share some more amusing history, literary references and some technical instruction.  You can find the full article here

3 comments:

Jamous said...

Hehehe. Must be why your great grandmother Gates loved hats with hat pins.

Maren said...

Gotta watch out for those Gates women!

Karl Mesias said...

Must've of been very dangerous during those times of use.