Collecting Vintage Christmas Tree Pins

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 πŸ™‚

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

Related: Vintage deer collectibles , Collecting vintage 1950’s Christmas decorations, vintage Christmas for sale

a pile of Christmas tree pins with text: collecting vintage Christmas Tree Pins

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History Behind Vintage Christmas Tree Pins

Large collection of christmas tree pins in green, gold, and silverSince the Victorian era, women have adorned themselves with Christmas-themed holiday jewelry, including beautifully decorated Christmas tree pins.

Christmas corsages with beads and faux treesCorsages 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

5 Christmas tree pinsWith 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

4 vintage christmas tree pinsThe 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]

  1. MYLU: A multi-colored rhinestone tree with separate branches, signed “MYLU,” a 1950-60’s jewelry company that merged with Coro in 1968. Available.
  2. 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.
  3. MYLU: A pearl and clear rhinestone tree signed “MYLU.” Available.
  4. 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

Circle of seven green Christmas Tree PinsThe 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.

8 gold vintage Christmas tree pinsMany 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:

Necklace made of Christmas tree pinsNancy 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.

White Christmas trees decorated with Christmas Tree pinsTerri 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 πŸ™‚

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: diana@adirondackgirlatheart.com

UPDATE: Rebecca Malara sent me this photo of her darling Christmas tree pin. Don’t you just love the ruffles??

If you’re a member of my private Facebook group, [join here: Your Vintage Headquarters], you can see a member’s Christmas tree pin collection HERE. Thanks for sharing Nancy!

Thanks so much for stopping by–

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Bye for now,

Diana

 

I’d love it if you’d pin for later–

 

Pile of Christmas Tree Pins: Learn all about collecting vintage Christmas tree pins

4 Christmas tree pins with text: learn all about collecting christmas tree pins

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25 Comments

  1. What a great collection, Diana! I love your Giovanni you’re keeping for now. I have only one – the Weiss, 5 candle. It’s a beauty, bought from an upscale estate many years ago, and I still love pulling it out to wear.
    Happy Holidays to you and your family!

  2. I ADORE wearing my Christmas jewelry this time of year when I’m out and about. I love the cheap stuff I get at the after-Christmas sales, as well as the gifts I have received over the years. Unfortunately, pins are difficult to wear on light clothing during our warm days in Texas. Christmas is rarely cold enough to wear something heavy enough to support a pin. I wish I could get out more right now to allow me to hit every garage and estate sale I could find in search of these tree pins. I would love to fill up a denim vest !

  3. Diana,
    I too am a lover/collector of vintage Christmas pins. I have the fortune/misfortune of living close to a medium range auction house where I can indulge in my costume jewelry, vintage item, shopping passion! You have a great eye and I enjoy your posts so much!

    1. Hi Cathie! I’m so glad you enjoy my posts–you put a smile on my face today πŸ™‚ Thank you and Merry Christmas–

  4. Thanks Diana for this spotlight on the Christmas Tree pins. I love pins of all kinds. When our daughter got married I made her bouquet all out of pins from both sides of the family and those I picked up at garage sales etc.

    1. Oooh I bet that bouquet was gorgous Terry–you have so many talents πŸ™‚ Wishing you and your sweet family a very special Christmas!

  5. Thanks for the great info on Vintage Christmas Tree pins. When I was still working as an Ob- Gyn Ultrasonographer, I would wear a seasonal pin on my lab coat. Including vintage pins when I could find them β™‘β™‘ I now have a booth in an antique cooperative in the Rochester, NY area and when I need to work my hours will wear a pin on my sweater along with my name tag. Old habits die hard, lol !

    1. I’m sure you get lots of compliments on your vintage pins, Betty πŸ™‚ Thanks so much for popping in and leaving a sweet comment. Merry Christmas!

  6. This is such a fun collection! I recognize several of those pins that you have. What a great thing to treasure.

  7. Although not a Christmas tree, I have a Santa pin that I got when I was a teenager. Fifty years later, I still wear him on my coat lapel! He’s still in really great shape because he only comes out of the box in December!

  8. Diana, I was really excited when I saw the title to this post as I have a very small collection of Christmas Tree pins and have always meant to add to it and do a photo of them to use on a Christmas card. I really like the Monet green and clear rhinestone pin in your second from the top grouping. I like that it is a silver mounting. I also like the twelve o’clock pin in the next grouping. I haven’t worn any of my Christmas tree pins in forever but I think this may be the year I haul the out and pin one on my coat! Thanks for this most fun and interesting post!

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed the post, Naomi and glad too that I [may have] inspired you to get them out and wear them again πŸ™‚ Happy Christmas friend!!

  9. I remember my great aunt having several and I guess they got away. I’m not sure if they would have been valuable, but now they would be to me.

  10. What a lovely collection! My mom used to love these types of pins, as well. They are harder to find these days, but I may go on the search to gift her one for this coming Christmas! Thanks for sharing at Tuesday Turn About… the party returns from the Christmas break this Tuesday, 1/7. Hope to see you there, and Happy New Year!

  11. I must be a vintage soul although my tree pin isn’t. I love wearing a Christmas pin on my coat whether it is a tree, a Santa, or an angel. Right now I have a puffy snowman head on it; still winter here in Maine!

    One warning, however, be careful with seat belt harnesses; they can bump the safety latch so the pin falls off; ask me how I learned.

    My favorite pin is a double snowman with “#1 Mom” on it, Not from my kids. From a volunteer who was a recovering addict who had lost custody of her 2 kids due to her drugging/drinking. I am grateful for my kdis every time I wear it and glad she thot so highly of me! Found this post late-can you tell?

    1. Still winter here, too, Kathy! It’s been snowing and right around 15 degrees for a couple of days. My sweet daughter had to drive home from Montreal yesterday in a snowstorm and then drive further south to get back to her college. She made it safely though!

      Good advice to watch out for the seat belt and place your Christmas pins accordingly πŸ™‚

      What a poignant story about your #1 Mom pin. I hope she continued on a path to emotional health and reconciliation–

  12. I am interested in selling my substantial collection of Christmas tree pins to someone who will treasure them. Are you interested or do you know anyone who would be?
    Thank you.

    1. Hi Linda! I’m not aware at the moment of anyone who would be interested in your collection. However, I have a YouTube video that goes into various ways you can sell your vintage and antiques if you’re not an antique dealer. You’ll find that video here: https://youtu.be/4tyZGJ1gHnA

  13. I have lots of tree pins and also other holiday designs, like bells and snowflakes. I wear at least 1 pin everyday from Thanksgiving to January 6th. Each day when I remove my pin I put it on a cloth calendar to represent what I wore that day. It’s sort-of like a reverse Advent Calender. Instead of removing something, I add a pin. It’s so much fun. And a wonderful way to display my collection! If I could figure out how to send a picture, I would!

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