Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Vintage Christmas Tree Pins and Holiday Jewelry

The Christmas tree has probably been the number one motif in costume jewelry over the years. They can be found made of glittery rhinestones, spectacular Austrian crystals, bright enamels, polished silver and even fine gemstones. They can be simple or baroque, modern or traditional, whimsical, glitzy or even weird! With so many facets to collecting these holiday statements, it's no wonder that they are such a popular collectible.

The fir or pine tree became a symbol of the Christmas Holidays back in the 16th century in Germany. The tradition was recognized by Martin Luther and eventually spread to the rest of the Christian world in the 18th and 19th centuries. 

Victorian Christmas Locket
The elaborately decorated Christmas trees of the Victorian times led women, and some men, to adorn themselves in bright jewelry with holiday themes. Victorian and Edwardian holiday jewelry featured cherubs and angels, bells and garlands, and later some trees. (The locket to the left is courtesy Morning Glory Collects.)

The rise in popularity of costume jewelry in the 1930s made it possible for the average lady to wear bright and beautiful jewels. Christmas tree pins became popular by the 1940s and reached a peak in the '50s and '60s. Every major designer of costume jewelry created a line of Christmas tree pins, pendants, and other jewelry. These were sold in all the department stores and the five-and-dime stores as well.

While there was a decline in the popularity of Holiday pins in the 1980s, the Christmas tree pin made a big comeback in the 1990s and can be found pretty much everywhere jewelry is sold today.
L to R: Eisenberg, Swaboda and Hollycraft Christmas Tree Pins
Major costume jewelry houses such as Eisenberg, Swaboda and Hollycraft (above) participated in the lucrative market. Some others just dabbled in it like Haskell, Carnegie or Chanel. Trifari has made Christmas tree pins for years.
These are Weiss Christmas Tree Pins with 6, 5 and 3 Candles, plus a Pair of Earrings

Maybe the most famous, and collectible, series of Christmas tree pins were made by Weiss. These trees came with different numbers of candles and had matching earrings. These are expensive, but having an entire set is the holy grail of Christmas tree collecting.

Wendy Gell Handmade Christmas Tree Pin
In recent years, a number of designers are making spectacular, one-of-a-kind tree pins. Wendy Gell's altered art pins, the Schultz's recycled Bakelite creations, and Clarke's whimsical Lucite trees. Lea Stein's celluloid acetate tree pins are a favorite of ours. These command high prices as serious collectors love them. Wish we had some of these!
L to R: Schultz Bakelite Tree, Clarke Lucite Tree and Lea Stein Celluloid Acetate Tree
Susan's Bottlebrush Tree Pin
 One unusual Christmas tree pin is this decorated vintage bottlebrush tree that has a pin-back on it. This one is from Susan's bottlebrush tree collection.

But, of course, most of us have more modest means and collect pins that are more traditional and less rare. Here at Vintages, we have a nice collection of Christmas Tree pins and other Holiday Jewelry. Most of our pins are available online, but some have not made it to the internet yet. Take a look at some of our inventory below, and check our shopping site for many more.

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