A tie pin (or tiepin, also known as a stick pin/stickpin) is a neckwear-controlling device, originally worn by wealthy English gentlemen to secure the folds of their cravats. They were first popularized at the beginning of the 19th century. Cravats were made of silk, satin, lace and lightly starched cambric, lawn and muslin, and stickpins were necessary accoutrements to keep these expensive fabrics in place and safe. Stickpins commonly used pearls and other precious gemstones set in gold or other precious metals and were designed specifically for their owners. By the 1860s, wearing cravats had been embraced by the English upper middle classes with a consequently lower quality of materials and designs used in both the neckwear and in the stickpins used to keep it in place. By the 1870s Americans had embraced stickpins and designs were mass-produced and included animal heads, horse shoes, knife and fork motifs, crossed pipes, wishbones, bugs, flowers, shields and a host of other figural motifs. By the 1890s stickpins had crossed gender lines as women began wearing them with sporting outfits worn for bicycling, boating, riding, tennis and golf. The Ascot, Four in Hand, Sailor scarf, cravat bow tie and wrapped scarf all became popular for both men and women, and all could be set off with an ornamental stickpin. Between 1894 and 1930 many patents were issued covering such issues as prong setting, ornament attachment, stickpin blanks, safety clutches, guards and decorations. One patent was for a brooch which could convert the center medallion to a stickpin. Another concealed a small lead pencil point attached to the shaft of the pin. Still another included a small water reservoir behind the ornamental head of the stick pin in which a flower blossom could be placed. Patent 1,301,568 dated April 22, 1919 was for a luminous stickpin with a star motif disk-like head which held a small drop of radioactive material.
Gold or silver safety pins were commonly used as tie and collar pins from the beginning of the 20th century (Woolworths used to stock cheaper bar type pins). A tie pin was used to fasten the tie to the shirt and was an integral part of a man / boy's uniform or clothing. In the 21st Century, other devices are now available to secure an unruly tie though a safety pin may be used as an unobtrusive 'underpin' to achieve the same degree of neatness.
- Julie Robinson. Stickpins: Tiny works of art. Antique Week. 2010-02-14. URL:http://www.antiqueweek.com/Article.asp?newsid=1534. Accessed: 2010-02-14. (Archived by WebCite at http://www.webcitation.org/5naorXkc5)