Charm Bracelet Hearts

Whether you call them puffy hearts, puffed hearts, répoussé hearts, whether they're antique or vintage, sterling silver or gold filled, charm bracelets filled with old heart charms are tremendously popular with today's collectors. Because they're so popular, they can be very expensive. And because their age and authenticity is genuinely difficult for the non-expert to assess, it's all too easy to spend a lot of money on a heart or heart bracelet that isn't what it's represented as. There are quite a few sellers, including those who regularly sell hearts, who don't know what they're selling, though they may sound as if they do. And then there are the sellers who do know but don't want you to know (because if you did, you wouldn't pay vintage prices for hearts that are not really vintage!).

So if you collect these sentimental, lovely tokens of affection from the past, you need to educate yourself in order to buy wisely. The guidelines below really just scratch the surface of a big, complicated topic, but they'll get you started. They're a condensed version of a handout I wrote to accompany a lecture on antique and vintage hearts that I and Joanne Schwartz (who wrote Charms and Charm Bracelets: The Complete Guide) gave at the Vintage Fashion and Costume Jewelry convention in the fall of 2005.

Inevitably you'll make mistakes in your buying; it happens to us all. Learn from those mistakes, and as time goes on, you'll become wiser and the mistakes will become fewer.

Terminology: I use a bit of shorthand below. By Victorian I mean any heart made between about 1880 and the beginning of World War I in 1914; their real heyday was in the ten years or so surrounding the turn of the century. By 1940s I mean any heart made from the later thirties through the fifties; they were at the height of their popularity in the forties but lingered on for another decade. Anything made from the 1970s on I consider a repro, since these hearts are lower-quality knockoffs of earlier hearts; they can be pretty and they have their place, but they have no real collectible value. (As for the years between World War I and the latter half of the thirties, hearts existed but were not in style, and so very few were produced. Anytime you see a heart described as 1920s, you can be pretty sure that it's actually a decade or two younger unless there's proof of its age in the form of an engraved date.)

Keep in mind in reading what follows that there are exceptions to everything-these are guidelines to help you in identification, not hard-and-fast rules. I'm sorry that the photos are so small and may therefore not be too helpful, but their size is predetermined by eBay.

Final part

2008-05-27 13:07:40 by david46208

Let me tell you something: When I'm on the golf course and I slip my wedding ring into my golf bag, the Rev. Jacquie Hood Martin is still my wife. When we shoot hoops and I remove my Texas A&M University ring from my right hand, I still love my school. The fact that I can no longer wear my 1987 class ring from Houston's Jack Yates High School doesn't mean I don't cherish the crimson and gold. And I may not be able to fit into the shirt I pledged in, but I will be a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. until the day I die.
I am an unapologetic Christian, but you won't see a cross dangling from my neck or a James Avery charm bracelet on my wrist

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