Dating Brooches by Type of Clasp or Fastening

31/12/2021 695 0 0

How to Date a Brooch by its Clasp or Fastening

If you enjoy collecting brooches and pins and are wondering how old is this brooch, or  pin, then one way to determine age is to assess its clasp or fastening. Particular clasps or fastenings are know to have been used during certain times. In addition to looking at the clasp (which may have been replaced over time), you will want to consider the overall style of the brooch and use a jewellers loupe to check for any identifying makers marks or hallmarks. 

Different type of Brooch Clasps

There are several different types of clasps that were used on brooches in the  early days right up to modern pieces. Some typical styles are Extended C clasps and C clasps, Trombone Clasps,  and  Locking C clasps. Pins types were the Jabot pin, dress clip, duette, collar pins, and pin clips.

The Extended C Clasp and C Clasp

C clasps were very popular throughout  the Victorian era and a C clasp of some type was generally in use from around 1850 until 1910. The extended C clasp is the older version of the C clasp and is one of the earliest styles of clasps used for old brooches. The extended C clasp had a long and strong  pin extending some way beyond the brooch which was then held by a C shaped piece of metal. The extended length of pin helped to securely fasten brooches to heavy Victorian fabrics.Extended C clasp were less used from the start of the 1900's . Standard C clasps had the same design as the extended C clasp but the pin was shorter in length.


Victorian tortoishell brooch with extended C clasp and old silver C clasp brooch

Trombone Clasps
Trombone clasps are so named after the musical instrument that needs a push and pull to operate. This type of clasp uses this push pull method of closing. The clasp was first seen in use in the early 1890s on European jewellery. Many brooches made in France displayed this type of clasp. They were commonly used in jewellery made in the 1940s, becoming less popular after this period. A number of brooches in the 1960s, 70's, and 80's including certain Chanel brooches still displayed this type of clasp.

Trombone clasp closed    Trombone clasp open

L to R :Trombone clasp- closed and open views

Locking Safety Catch .

The rollover safety catch seen today is essentially the same design that became commonly used in the 1920's and 30's. The safety catches were machine made and the pin is locked in the catch by a rotating jaw.It usually has a round hinge. Most modern jewellery has this type of locking C clasp although it is still possible to find modern brooches using C or Trombone clasps.


L to R: Twentieth century brooches with machine made locking silver safety catches.

Tube Hinges

In the period from around 1850 until 1910 generally all hinges on pins and brooches were tube hinges. Tube hinges comprised three tubes of hollow metal, with two of the tubes soldered directly to  the brooch, and one tube attached to the pin.

   Round hinge brooch

L to R: Antique gemstone brooch with silver tube hinges, pin and C clasp , and mid 20th century brooch with round hinge

Round Hinges

Round hinges began to be machine made and mass produced int he 1920's becoming a standard brooch hinge by the beginning of the 1930's. Most of the hinges came part of a pre made unit comprising the hinge, pin and catch which could be attached to the brooch in one step, a great labour saving device.