The Sweetheart Tradition

For soldiers during World Wars I and II, exchanging letters and mementos kept them connected with the home front and strengthened bonds with friends and loved ones back in the States. Many of the sentimental items that were sent home from servicemen are referred to as “sweetheart” collectibles now.

The tradition of sending home keepsake items actually started during World War I when the strain of the Great War made keeping in touch with the folks back home seem even more important. The sweetheart custom continued when the U.S. faced more formidable opponents during World War II. One of the favorite ways to show patriotism and feel close to those serving our country was expressed through wearing a special piece of jewelry reflecting the branch of service a sweetheart, son or brother was representing. Whether in the form of a necklace, bracelet or pin, these patriotic symbols provide a heart-felt look back at the 1940s and beyond.

A Reflection of History

A unique aspect of sweetheart jewelry comes with the identifiable history immediately associated with these pieces. No matter who the pieces originally belonged to, there are some inherent factors that went into the thought, manufacture and subsequent distribution of these treasures that most anyone can appreciate.

These collectibles represent an era where practically the entire country backed the war effort. Women moved into factory positions while children were mounting ration campaigns. Working together to achieve a goal never meant more. A soldier gave this jewelry to someone special as a gesture of love and remembrance. And many times the piece would signify his general location, like the South Pacific, or his branch of military service.

"Keepsake items remind us that wars are fought by human beings. Jewelry and collectibles are proof that war extends beyond the battlefield and help us realize just how much the lives of large numbers of civilians were significantly altered as they worked together for the survival of our free world," Nick Snider wrote in Sweetheart Jewelry and Collectibles.

Info from here. 


So you are wondering what prompted this post and history lesson?  At a church yard sale recently I purchased a vintage pin cushion.  Stuck into that cushion was a very dirty, grungy and tiny pin.  I soaked it in Dawn dish liquid to clean it up a bit and noticed the word STERLING on it.  I then used silver polish and it revealed the jeweler that made the pin which made me think that there was a lot more to this pin than I knew. 


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As I started searching the jeweler via Google to try to date the pin, I hit a bit of a stumbling block.  I knew that N. S. Meyer, Inc in New York created medals for the military in the 2nd World War, but couldn’t find any reference on the web of the 1 inch size medals.  I then contacted a gentleman on a Meyer medal site to ask if he might be willing to take a look.  He got back to me today with the answer to my mystery.

Well that’s a cute little find.  These types of wings weren’t worn on uniforms, they were generally called "sweetheart wings" and were either bought by an airman and given to his loved ones or purchased by them to wear to show their pride.  These wings are most likely WW2 era wings.  I wouldn’t date them any earlier than that and they could be from shortly after the war as well.  I’m sure it has a story to tell.  Unfortunately, as with most of the wings in my collection, we’ll never get to hear it.  Thanks for sending the photos.  I like that little guy.  I haven’t seen a command pilot wing in that size before.

The wings were given from a command pilot to his sweetheart during the Second World War.  That makes sense since the pin cushion that it was stuck in I would date to the 40’s.  How sweet that she kept it all these years.  I am assuming she had passed as I cannot imagine that someone would part with something like this.  With such sentimentality attached to it.  Or maybe, just maybe, it was forgotten and passed on. 

Mystery solved, but love story still untold…