Edwardian Horn Hairpins

Edwardian Horn Hairpins

A while ago I bought Edwardian-style hairpins made of real horn. I always wondered how ‘three or four pins’ (Every Woman’s Encyclopaedia, 1910-2) should be enough to keep a pompadour hairstyle in position. But Edwardian hairpins usually were longer than ordinary wire hairpins: Edwardian tortoise shell hair comb, Edwardian seed pearl hair comb and 1907 ad for bone hairpins. The women in these Edwardian photographs wear two horn or tortoise shell hairpins to keep their pompadour coiffures in place: ca. 1905 photograph, Edwardian portrait, 1912 portrait and 1910s carte de visite.

Edwardian Carved Horn Hair Combs

The simplest hairpin ‘is made of wire bent in the form of a letter U, but hairpins are made also of ivory, bone, tortoise-shell, wood and metal, and of various shapes, often with ornamented heads or tops. It is a feminine assertion that a women can do more with a hair-pin than a man can do with any one instrument in existence. She takes it to button her shoes’ and gloves, ‘to crimp her hair, to fasten her hat on […] to manicure her nails […] To clean her comb, and to cut the pasted label on her powder-box. She can use it as a paper-knife, or a book-mark; to open a letter […] to trim the lamp-wick, to mend her bracelet or her bustle, she handles it with a dexterous grace and a confident skill, born of inherited knowledge and educated by long practiced use. (A Complete Dictionary of Dry Goods, 1892)


Such horn hairpins really keep the hair better in place than ordinary hairpins so that less hairpins are necessary. I used the white carved horn hairpin for my Edwardian pompadour hairstyle. And by the way, the lace in the background is my Edwardian princess slip.

One thought on “Edwardian Horn Hairpins

  1. Hello I am from city of Jaipur India and making unique handmade buttons and crafts out of buffalo’s horn , bone and wood. I have also many different designs hairpins and crochet hooks etc.

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