The list below can be used to help circa date vintage and antique brooches.
Please Note: These examples are only to be used as a guide, as pins, catches, and hinges on older brooches are often damaged and repaired using more modern replacement parts.
HANDMADE C-CATCH (c. PRE-1910)
Handmade c-catch on an antique brooch
Prior to 1910, brooches were fastened by a pin that extends far beyond the handmade C-catch, with a tube hinge.
TROMBONE CATCH (c. 1850-1910)
The push-pull "trombone" safety catch was patented in 1850, in Great Britain. They didn't become popular in jewelry made in the United States until much later.
LEVER SAFETY CATCH (c. 1900-1930s)
The lever safety catch was first used as a brooch fastener around 1900.
MODERN SAFETY CATCH (c. POST-1911)
The modern safety catch used to fasten brooch pins was invented in 1911. The modern pin catch features a rotating mechanism that secures the pin, preventing accidental slippage. This style of safety catch is still widely used today.
HANDMADE TUBE HINGE (c. 1850-1870)
This type of handmade tube hinge was frequently seen between 1850-1870.
HANDMADE TUBE HINGE (c. 1870-1930)
This type of handmade hinge has two tubes soldered to a pad, which is easily soldered onto the reverse side of the brooch. The third (middle) tube is soldered to the pin.
MACHINE-MADE ROUND HINGE (c. POST-1930)
The round hinge was developed around 1930. Usually machine-made, these parts saved jewelers both assembly time and labor costs.