Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Epingle de Pardon

I live in Quimper, in Western Brittany, where the old traditions are alive and summer folk festivals are glorious with dancing, music, and old costumes. I'm a member of the Quimper Club International, a collectors' club for Quimper pottery, made here for over 300 years. At our annual meeting, we often have an auction whose proceeds go to charitable organizations, and the members of the Club donate items, either pottery or things related to Brittany and its culture.

This year, I'm offering an épingle de pardon, a "pardon pin", for the auction. This is a sort of stickpin that young ladies received from young men - it was a way of popping the question in an era when there was not much money for things like engagement rings. The young man gave it to his sweetheart, and if she wore it at the next appropriate occasion, which was quite often next Sunday's church service, then he knew that she was willing to become his wife. If she didn't wear it, the message was clear (and she got to keep the pin).

These pins were made of base metal and fake round pearls, with lots of little pendants, often crescent-shaped. They came in different colors, but only one color for all the beads on any given pin. They were called "pardon pins" because they were bought from itinerant sellers at pardons, which were (are) Catholic festivals particular to Brittany. To see an old one, click here.

This is my modern version of a pardon pin, designed to be worn as a stickpin. I have one of my own that is multi-colored (a real break with tradition!), but for the Quimper Club auction, I stayed with one color range, even though the beads are different in shape, color density, and age. The stickpin is silvered metal, as are the bead caps; the little pendants are sterling. I've done them before in just about every color imaginable, and this time I was inspired to use purple/violet tones!


  1. Judy, I like the new look of your blog. Great job! This is a wonderful post. The pin is lovely. We appreciate that you are donating it to the QCI auction. I'm off to read the other posts that I've missed since my last visit. Forever Amber sounds interesting. :-)
    ~ Sarah

  2. Judy,
    The epingle is a lovely piece of jewellery and the story behind it is enchanting.
    I shan't be at the QCI meeting this year so I'll be sending you my order for my personalized epingle soon.
    a bientot