Hi there! I hope you had a nice weekend. It’s starting to feel a lot like Christmas around our house. It’s only right then that today we’ll be taking a look at collecting vintage Christmas tree pins 🙂
We brought the Christmas decorations out of the basement, attended our first Christmas gathering, and decorated my antique booth on Saturday. My sweet, sweet husband set up the tree all by himself on Saturday morning. I know, he’s a dear.
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History Behind Vintage Christmas Tree Pins
Since the Victorian era, women have adorned themselves with Christmas-themed holiday jewelry, including beautifully decorated Christmas tree pins.
Corsages like the pair you see here made of beaded flowers, mini bottle brush trees, and foil leaves, served as forerunners to the Christmas pin. For many, they would have offered a more affordably priced way to get into the holiday spirit.
In about the 1940’s the Christmas tree pin really began to take off and even today, of all the Christmas designs available–bells, deer, and Santa–the Christmas tree is the most popular among collectors.
Values of Vintage Costume Jewelry Christmas Tree Pins
With the exception of the four signed pins below, the pins in this post are generally worth $5-15 each. Simpler examples without rhinestones or other gems fall on the lower end, while those more elaborately designed with pretty faux jewel embellishments have higher values.
For more info and help with determining values:
Signed Christmas Tree Pins
The first three pins with rhinestones are listed in my Etsy shop. I’m keeping the forth on the far right for myself, at the moment.
[Left to right]
- MYLU: A multi-colored rhinestone tree with separate branches, signed “MYLU,” a 1950-60’s jewelry company that merged with Coro in 1968. Available.
- Monet: A c. 1980 green and clear rhinestone tree–nicely designed with one slightly larger green stone in the center, signed “Monet,” which is still in business. Available.
- MYLU: A pearl and clear rhinestone tree signed “MYLU.” Available.
- Giovanni: A beautifully stylized, gold-tone tree, signed “Giovanni” and dating to the 1960’s or 70’s. “Giovanni” refers to a line of jewelry created by the Longcraft company. Founded in 1889, they are still in business in Boston under the name “Long’s Jewelry.” (Kaleidoscope Effect)
Unsigned Vintage Christmas Tree Pins
The vast majority of tree pins that have come into my possession are unsigned examples. This grouping of seven, united by their green enamel paint, reflect a variety of design influences. The geometric pin at five o’clock exhibits a 1960’s modern look that I find particularly appealing.
The pin at 12 o’clock, decorated with holly leaves and rhinestone berries is another favorite of mine.
Many Christmas tree pin collectors specialize their collections in some way: by specific designer, color (like gold!), decoration type, or extra embellishment like dangles. Do you have a favorite among those you’ve seen today?
Start your collection with some quality new Christmas tree pins:
How to Clean & Care for Vintage Christmas Tree Brooches
This collection of costume jewelry pins came into my life with a fine layer of dust adhered to the surface of each piece. Here are some suggestions for cleaning almost any time of metal costume jewelry:
Unembellished Pieces: Those pieces that don’t contain rhinestones or other glued-on embellishments can be soaked for a minute or two in water with some mild soap and then light rubbed with a soft toothbrush. Lightly pat them dry and let them sit on a towel to completely air dry.
Embellished Pieces: Those pieces that contain decorative jewels or “pearls” must be cleaned very carefully. For the first attempt, use a dry paint brush with medium stiff bristles to brush off the dust and dirt. This may take care of the problem and you’re done.
If some dust or dirt remain, wet your fingers and use the water to lightly dampen a clean paint brush with medium stiff bristles (don’t dunk the brush in water). Lightly brush the pin wherever you see dirt that needs removing. Occasionally wipe the brush on a paper towel and redampen with your watery fingers. This should take care of the matter for you.
Only if your issues remain and you’re willing to (possibly) cause irreversible damage, should you move onto harsher solutions like jewelry cleaners, ammonia, and/or soaking.
How to Wear Vintage Christmas Tree Pins
Jewelry companies designed Christmas tree and other holiday pins for wearing on one’s outer coat. The practice has pretty much died out, but every now and again I see someone with a tree on their lapel and I know they have a vintage soul.
As mentioned, I reserved the stylized gold-tone tree signed “Giovanni” for myself and have been wearing it on my winter coat. I’m trying to single handedly revive the “look!” Will you join me??
The pins can also be worn in other ways:
- on the lapel of a suit coat,
- pinned to a cowel neck,
- on a scarf, or
- attached to a tote bag
How would you wear (display) a Christmas tree pin?
UPDATE: Some readers sent photos of the ingenious ways they use their Christmas tree pins:
Nancy Pacitto from Michigan sent this photo of a necklace she made with her vintage Christmas tree pins. Isn’t it stunning?? She explained that through the years when she gave lectures on the history of fashion, this was her Christmas lecture statement piece. I can certainly understand why. Thanks so much Nancy for sharing your creation with us.
Terri Austill posted this photo in our Facebook group (Your Vintage Headquarters), and group members went crazy for it! We all loved this simple idea of decorating table top trees with pins, though I’m guessing it took quite a while to accumulate them all 🙂
What to Look for When Collecting Vintage Christmas Tree Pins
- Excellent condition: It’s generally true whenever you build a collection that you should buy the best quality that you can afford. This usually pays off years down the road–quality lasts and increases in value more quickly than lower quality pieces.
- Signed by a quality company: In general, pieces signed by the company that made them are more valuable and will continue to grow in value. Names to look for include: Haskell, Trifari, MYLU, Hollycraft, Jerry, Hobe, Weiss, Swarovski, and Monet.
- Quality manufacture & design: Look for well-made, sturdy pieces. Prong-set stones indicate higher quality and prevent loss/damage. Consider the elements of the design–is it balanced, are the colors “right,” is the shape appealing, etc. Look for strong and/or unusual designs, as opposed to your run-of-the-mill examples.
- You love it! I would never advise anyone to buy something merely because it has value (i.e., for investment purposes), but am rather adamant that you must really like (preferably love) the pieces you buy. You’re going to be living with them in one way or another, so make sure they make your heart happy.
- You’ll wear it! I’m a firm believer that jewelry shouldn’t be sitting in one’s jewelry box where no one can see or appreciate it. If you’ll wear it, then buy it!
If you own a Christmas tree pin, I’d love to see it! I might even include it in this post. Members of my Facebook group, Your Vintage Headquarters, can post them in the group (join now if you’re not a member yet). Or send them to me via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
UPDATE: Rebecca Malara sent me this photo of her darling Christmas tree pin. Don’t you just love the ruffles??
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