Tag Archives: bone pins

Pin Money

‘Good gracious! Lord Bless me! Only think! Dear Me! Mr Darcy!Who would have thought it? Is it really true? O my sweet Lizzy, how rich and how great you will be! What pin-money, what jewels, what carriages you will have!’

We all know what a pin is – they’ve been around forever.

Many have survived from neolithic times as they were made out of bone.


The Romans used metal.

Pins excavated in London dated 1150 -1350


But pins like these were for the rich – the poor used sharpened pieces of wood or thorns.

They were a valuable commodity – The Friar used them to curry favour as described by Chaucer (1343 – 1400). default

Pins were valuable enough to be considered worth painting.


Rogier de la Pasture – about 1450 Picture7.png

Each pin had to be hand made – most were produced in France and Germany.


Apparently pins were sufficiently expensive and in such short supply in the 14th century that Parliament passed a special law that restricted their sale to the first two days of January each year.


1483 – The importing of pins was banned!

Richard III decreed that all pins had to be made in England. Too much money was spent on imports.


Unknown artist c1520

1543 – Henry VIII stepped in with quality control. “No person shall put to sale any pynnes but only such as shall be double-headed and have all the heads soldered fast to the shanke of the pynnes, well smoothed, the shanke well sharpen, the point well and filed, canted and sharpened.”


Rumoured that Queen Elizabeth I’s dress was held together with over a thousand pins.

The Queen’s purchases over a 6 month period in 1565 Item to Roberts Careless our Pynner – 18,000 great verthingale pynnes 20,000 middle verthingale pynnes 25,000 great velvet pynnes 39,000 smale velvet pynnes 19,000 small head pins


Even lesser mortals used many pins in their dress. 18th Century Dress

Marriage Settlement 1691. Copy of settlement on marriage of Philip, Lord Stanhope, eldest son and heir of Phillip, Earl of Chesterfield, and Lady Elizabeth Savile, daughter of George, Lord Marquess of Halifax, in consideration of £20,000 paid by Halifax to Chesterfield and an Act of Parliament (3 & 4 William and Mary) enabling jointure to be made on marriage of Lord Stanhope. …………taking £300 per annum pin money, remainder to Elizabeth for life as jointure.

Pin Money – Money allowed to a wife without her having to account for it.Seemed to cause upset between couples.

“Mr Spectator – 1721 I am turned of my great climacteric, and naturally a man of meek temper. About a dozen years ago I was married , for my sins, to a woman of a good family, and of an high spirit but could not bring her to close with me before I had entered into a treaty with her longer than that of the great Alliance. Among other articles, it was therein stipulated, that she should have £400 a year for Pin Money, which I obliged myself to pay quarterly into the hands of one who has acted as her plenipotentiary in that affair.”


Earl of Pomfret 1768 – 1830. In1793 he married Mary Browne who brought her fortune of £112,000 with her. In the pre-marriage agreement she was given £2000 per year for pin-money. In Court she stated he threatened to kill her unless she relinquished her pin money.

A novel on the subject published in 1834 written by Mrs Gore (Catherine Grace Frances Woody)


Oliver Twist 1837 Chapter 51: Affording an Explanation of More Mysteries Than One, and Comprehending a Proposal of Marriage With No Word of Settlement of Pin-Money.

Punch 1849


A cartoon emphasising the difference between the rich and the poor.

Partly due to The Married Woman’s Property Act – 1870 the meaning took on a different connotation. Married women were more likely to be given an allowance for the running costs of the house. Any money gleaned from this was deemed pin money.


During the 20th century the phrase pin money remained in the domain of the married woman but moved into the vocabulary of the lower orders and became derogatory.

‘The men provide for their families and so their work is taken seriously and paid accordingly. Woman are perceived as working for pin money, for the extras of life, hence the lower working wage.’ Margaret Taylor 1934

The beginning of the demise of the term.

‘By the early 1970s, Marion was already a union shop steward at the factory and she led an approach by the women to their employers with a request for equal pay with their male counterparts.’

Processing tobacco leaves at J. R. Freeman Cigars, Cardiff


Now moving on a difference tack.

Let’s leave it there.