A “Safety Pin” is a regular pin that includes a simple spring mechanism and a clasp. The clasp closes the loop at keeps the material being pinned from coming apart and protects the user from the sharp end.
A pin is a device used for fastening objects or materials together. American mechanic Walter Hunt invented the safety pin to pay off a $15 debt in 1849. Using a piece of brass wire eight inches long he made a coil in the center of the wire. He then devised a clasp at one end to accept the sharpened end. The patent was issued on April 10, 1849.
He then sold the patent to W. R. Grace and Company for $400, paid his debt, and the Grace company made millions. The fibula, a form of brooch, was invented by the Mycenaeans in the Greek region of
Peloponnesus between the 14th and 13th Century BC is considered an early precursor to a safety pin since they were used in a similar manner. Fibulae were used by Greek women and men to help secure tunics.
Safety pins have been swallowed by children ever since their invention. Laryngologist Dr. Chevalier Jackson devised special instruments for removing swallowed safety pins which he renamed “Danger Pins”.
Safety pins hold value in certain cultures and traditions. In India, pins are kept over generations and passed down to daughters. Ukrainians use pins as a way to ward off evil spirits when attached to children’s clothing. In other countries, a safety pin is a form of good luck.
- Chevalier Quixote Jackson (November 4, 1865 – August 16, 1958) was an American pioneer in laryngology. He is sometimes known as the “father of endoscopy”, although Philipp Bozzini (1773–1809) is also often given this sobriquet. Chevalier Q. Jackson extracted over 2000 swallowed foreign bodies from patients. The collection is currently on display at the Mütter Museum in Philadelphia.