Animal Pins and Brooches

Creature Chic
When I was a kid at school, it used to be very popular for a while for children to wear a small mouse brooch (usually with ruby, saphire, or emerald eyes) pinned to your coat. Why mice? Perhaps because they featured heavily in children's stories and nursery ryhmes and are small and non-threatening. Strange that females are traditionally portrayed as fearing mice, yet turn them into cartoons, storybook characters or adornments and we're supposed to find them adorable.

Animal adornment of one kind or other has always had it's moments of popularity, with certain creatures being favoured at particular times in history. In the Victorian era and again in the 1920s, both of which took inspiration from faraway times and exotic lands, scarab (beetle) brooches were all the rage and in the 1950s, cats and poodles were favoured.

Scarabs -the Mystical Dung Beetle
Topaz rhinestone beetle brooch by Alliang
The scarab beetle was an important religious symbol in ancient Egypt. Scarab beetles are famous for rolling balls of dung along the ground and dropping them in their burrows for female beetles to lay their eggs on. Ingeniously, when the larvae hatch, they have a ready made food supply and when they have had their fill, emerge from the burrow as beetles.

To the Egyptians, it seemed miraculous that young beetles emerged from a hole in the ground and they were worshipped as symbols of restoration and hope. Scarab beetles appeared in official seals and stamps, and in vivid colours on amulets, charms and jewelry and were commonly given as gifts and tokens of good luck, sometimes with the owners name engraved on the piece.

Jewel encrusted beetle brooch by Alliang
Significantly, scarabs were also placed on the breast of entombed mummies, which is one reason why they later became popular as brooches, to be worn over the heart.

50s Poodle Brooches
Poodle motifs were a great favourite of the 1950s. They appeared on skirts, hats, knits, bags and jewelry - particularly brooches. Whereas 50s boy's motifs included rocket ships, spacemen and cowboys, girls had ballerinas, swans, cats and pom pommed poodles.  Poodles in particular, were very girly and represented Paris, feminity and frivolity and their fussy, clipped appearance suggested a stylistic concern with high fashion.

Tres jolie n'est pas? From Fantasy Yard
Cat Pins and Brooches
Owl Rings
Scottie Dog Brooches