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by Amanda Applebyinfo@amandaappleby.com

Sweetheart collectibles - memorabilia of war

During the First and Second World Wars, soldiers serving their country would send home love tokens - in the form of jewellery and other gifts - as a way of keeping in touch with family and friends.

Some of these keepsakes survived, and are known today as ''sweetheart collectibles''. They are prized for their historical value, but are also of great sentimental value to those who lived through these troubled times, or those who wish to remember relatives who served in the wars.

For many collectors, sourcing these war-time relics has become a passion! Recently, there has been a surge in the availability of sweetheart jewellery and collectibles - because not many of the original owners are still alive! As these pieces begin to enter the market more frequently, interest in them is growing. This renewed popularity has resulted in a steep price increase, although they can still be found cheaply at markets, estate sales and through dealers.

During the wars, sweetheart mementos such as lockets, pendants, bracelets and rings were mass-produced and sold to soldiers stationed abroad, but some items were crafted by the soldiers themselves, using tools such as spoons, wood, wire and even bullets! Known as ''trench art'', these trinkets are truly unique, and each piece has a story to tell.

Pins reflecting the sender's location and military branch were worn as patriotic gestures by loved ones back home.''Wing pins'' were especially popular, but ''victory'' and ''in-service'' pins were also treasured. ''Victory'' pins often displayed the letter ''V'' on them, representing the allied symbol of victory, as well as the morse code combination for victory - dot-dot-dot-dash. ''Remember Pearl Harbor'' pins and other memorabilia are displayed at the World War II Museum in Boston, Massachusetts.

Gifts such as compacts, pillowcases and handkerchiefs were also common during this time. Pillowcase designs included poems and pictures of the American flag, and were given as parting gifts by the soldiers leaving for war.

Giving sweetheart memorabilia is still a tradition today, and wearing the mementos allows family and friends to show their patriotism, and helps them to feel close to those serving their country.

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