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Pinning Hopes on Goodwill
by Bob Brooke


 

The variety of styles and designs of Christmas tree pins is endless. Besides these eight major producers, there were at least seven others. Each created pins that brought hope and goodwill to those wearing them, as well as those viewing them on the wearer. The pins brightly said “Merry Christmas” to one and all.

Production of Christmas jewelry began in the late 1940s after the end of World War II. Before then, women wore a Christmas corsage on their coat or dress during the holiday season. These little personal decorations consisted of cloth holly leaves, artificial berries, ribbon, tiny plastic bells and just about anything lightweight. Because of their fragility, these decorations would only last for one holiday season and need to be replaced for the following one.

Beatrix
Founded in 1946 in Providence, Rhode Island., Beatrix discovered success with a Christmas pin depicting a hand-painted holly leaf with a red berry. From the 1950s until 1966, the company made only modest changes such as adding snow or a couple of bells.



Eventually, Treasure Master, a company that distributed commemorative wedding gifts, joined forces with Beatrix for a new line of holiday jewelry. Bather than stay with one simple design, Beatrix began manufacturing more than 1,000 different types of jewelry, which Treasure Master marketed. Among the most popular designs was Chris Mouse, an adorable Yuletide rodent posed in a variety of winter activities, who was eventually paired with his girl-friend, Chris Miss Mouse.

Beatrix went out of business in 1983. Their holiday jewelry sells for $10 to $25 for an enameled Christmas tree with rhinestones to $35 to $45 for a late l960s Mrs. Claus playing tennis.

Eisenberg
When it comes to costume jewelry, Eisenberg tops the list. The Chicago based company entered the Christmas pin market in the early 1950s.

Among its best-sellers was a tree-shaped pin having molded Christmas balls. The firm produced different variations of the pin, including a gold version with multicolored stones and a silver one with blue stones.

Early examples of Eisenberg jewelry can be difficult to distinguish, since the company didn’t mark its pins or used paper labels that were easily removed. When Eisenberg began stamping its jewelry, it first used an "E"mark. Later examples carry the name "Eisenberg."

Prices range from $I5 to $25 for recently issued wreaths. But it’s most famous for its glass tree produced in the mid-1970s. This tree in a silver metal frame holds a foil-backed piece of glass, with rhinestones set into the face of the tree. it sells for $175 to $300, but it’s rare.

Gerry's Creations
Like many other companies, Gerry's Creations didn't mark its Christmas pins when the company began production in New York City in the early 1950s. Since the mid1950s, however, the company's jewelry has been stamped "Gerry's"

Its most popular pins were its early ones, including a Victorian bell, old street lamp and moveable poodle. The company continues to produce holiday-related jewelry that generally sells for about $10.

Prices begin at $10 to $15 for a 1994 snowman on skis, while a 1950s boot with a moveable poodle lists for $45 to $55.

Hobe
Hobe got into the Christmas jewelry making business in the 1950s with its rhinestone tree designs and a free-form design with dangling beads. Hobe trees average from $45 to almost $200. New designs were issued annually until the early 1990s.

Rhinestone angels, bells, trees and stick pins show the variety of styles produced by Hobe, which is now based in Mt. Vernon, New York.

Many 1960s designs that were reissued in the 1980s can be purchased for $25 to $45, while a 1976 Christmas tree sells for $65 to$85.

Hollycraft
A division of the Hollywood Jewelry Co., Hollycraft made Christmas pins from 1948 to the early 1960s. This firm not only stamped some of its pins but also dated them.

Although Hollycraft is known for its costume jewelry with pastel-colored stones, the company's line of Christmas goodies actually used brighter colors more in line with the season.

Its pins came in a variety of styles, including trees, holly-decorated street lamps and Santas. The best examples will have rhinestones set in prongs, while less expensive examples use glue to keep the rhinestones in place.

One of the most sought after is the beaded tree that has beads dangling from the branches. It sells for $135 to $225. The matching earrings sell for $110. Other Hollycraft trees start at $75.

Values range front S45 to $65 for plain Christmas trees to $150 to 52110 for a dated 1959 example. An unusual late 1950s or early1960s Santa lists at $95 to $110.

Jonette
Founded in the late 1930s as Providence Jewelry Company in Providence, Rhode Island, it took several name changes before the company became Jonette Jewelry Company after World War II. It first introduced Christmas pins in the late 1940s, with new designs issued every year.

The variety of Jonette jewelry includes Christmas trees, Santos, sleighs and a Christmas door that opens. Marked examples are stamped "J.J.."

Examples from the 1990s include candy canes at $12 to MR, a door that opens at $35to $45, and a sleigh at 545 to $65. A 1950s Christmas tree books at $65 to $75.

Trifari
The Trifari Company went into business in 1918, but Christmas pins weren't added to the line until the early 1950s. Marked examples bear the “Trifari” name on the back. Today, the company is owned by The Monet Group in New York City.

Christmas trees issued in 1972 today sell for $55 to $75, while a 1961 example with jelly-like crystals sells for $85 to $110.

Weiss
Weiss produced jewelry from 1942 until the early 1970s. The firm’s line featured numerous Christmas designs, including a geometric, rhinestone Christmas tree that came in three sizes. Though Weiss' trees command top prices, the company produced other popular pins, including sleds, wreaths, ornaments, stockings, and poinsettias.

Look for "Weiss" stamped in an oval disc on the company's pins. Unmarked examples can also be found, but they‘re less desirable since Weiss sold this generic jewelry in boxes carrying the store's name. Other unsigned jewelry came from jobbers who cast designs from Weiss molds.

The Weiss Six Candle Tree has become one of the most sought after of Christmas pins. The 2 ½-inch pin has all prong-set stones, deep green for the tree and red for the ornaments, with clear rectangular stones for the candles and yellow round stones for the flames. The Five Candle Tree is just over two inches tall, ad the Three Candle Tree is less than 2 inches tall. The former is valued at $150 to $325 and the latter is $125 to $225 and the Three is $135 to$185.

Sleigh shaped pins from the 1960s and '70s begin at $35 to $45, while prices climb steadily from there. The largest size 1940s Christmas tree is valued at $125 to $225.

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