The origin of the safety pin dates back to the Mycenaeans during the 14th century BC (Late Mycenaean III era). They are known as fibulae (singular fibula) and were used in the same manner as modern day safety pins. In fact, the very first fibulae of the 14th and 13th centuries B.C. looked remarkably like the safety pin. The origin of the fibulae is detailed in Chr. Blinkenberg's 1926 book Fibules grecques et orientales.
The safety pin was reinvented by American inventor Walter Hunt, and patented in April, 1849. The rights to the invention were sold for $400.
Safety pin used as earring
During emergence of Punk rock in the late seventies, safety pins became associated with the genre, its followers and fashion. Some claim the look was taken originally from Richard Hell whom the British punks saw in pictures, and whose style they adopted. This is disputed by a number of artists from the first wave of British punks, most notably Johnny Rotten, who insists that safety pins were originally incorporated for more practical reasons, for example, to remedy "the arse of your pants falling out". British punk fans, after seeing the clothing worn by such punk forerunners, then incorporated safety pins into their own wardrobe as clothing decoration or as piercings, shifting the purpose of the pins from practicality to fashion. The safety pin subsequently has become an image associated with Punk rock by media and pop-culture outlets.
Fibulae and ancient brooches
^ US6,281 (PDF version) (1849-04-10) Walter Hunt, Dress-pin.
^ Alfred, R (2008-10-04). "April 10, 1849: Safety Tech Gets to the Point, Baby". Wired. http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/2008/04/dayintech_0410#. Retrieved 2008-10-23.
^ Safety Pin
^ According to a few documentaries and Malcolm McLaren, who has credited this style to his first impressions of Richard Hell while he was in New York managing the The New York Dolls.
More about Walter Hunt and his invention
Categories: Textile closures | 1849 introductions | 1980s fashion