This “photo-pin” belonged to my great-grandmother Annie Hill Regan. Annie passed away in 1937, and this pin was among a small collection of cards, photographs, and memorial cards that made their way to my mom. Click here to see a 1930s Christmas card from Annie’s sister Katie in Ireland.
I remember seeing this pin as a child and being puzzled as to why my great-grandmother had such a thing. Who wore a pin with someone’s picture on it, especially a picture of a priest? I didn’t get it, but I was relieved that the fad of priest-photo-pins didn’t carry over to the 1980s – the thought of wearing a picture of my parish priest Father O’Sullivan stuck to my cardigan gave me goosebumps!
Several years ago I became curious about the identity of the priest in the photo-pin, and I started to ask questions…
- Could this be Annie’s brother, or maybe an uncle or a nephew?
- When Annie came to the US, she worked as a housekeeper for Father Molloy. Maybe this is him?
- Were pins like this common or did she have this specially made?
I have never been able to answer these questions. I know Annie had one brother, John, but I know nothing about his life, and I have seen photos of Father Molloy, but only as an older man and there isn’t a strong resemblance.
Maybe you can help me with the third question. Has anyone come across an item like this, maybe in an old box of your great-grandmother’s treasures or at an antique shop? The pin measures about two inches in diameter with a coppery, scalloped edge. Leave me a comment if you have any ideas…
Check out this website for more on photo jewelry.