Thursday, May 23, 2013

Memorial Day - World War II Sweetheart Mementos: Frames, Jewelry and Souvenirs

World War II reverse-painted glass frame
One of my favorite recent purchases is a small reverse-painted glass photo frame.  It dates to the 1940s and says ‘Remember Me’.  The photo, with hand-painted details, depicts a young man in a naval uniform.
Photo from inside the frame above
When removed from the frame you can see that he is wearing a flower lei, holding a ukulele, and standing before a grass hut--all indicative that this was shot in Hawaii, where the US had several naval bases, and sent home to a sweetheart or family member.
A pin with pendant frame by Coro, from SoCalJewelBox
Small frames like this one were one of many souvenirs and mementos given during World War II to help loved ones remember each other while separated.  Jewelry and other trinkets could help ease the anxiety of separation and give tangible proof of sentiment.  Military and patriotic motifs, lockets, frames and forget-me-nots were all popular for these tokens of affection.
Set of rayon handkerchiefs
I’m a little obsessed with Hawaii, so I’m especially taken with wartime souvenirs from the islands.  Hawaii had long captured popular imagination as a tropical paradise, but the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941 brought it to the forefront of the world scene.  The events of December 7th became the rallying point that pushed the US into World War II and Hawaii became the gateway to the Pacific theater.  Thousands of military men and women sent home all manner of souvenirs from jewelry to postcards, maps and dolls.  ‘Remember Pearl Harbor’ pins, hula ‘nodders’ and aloha shirts all found their way back to the mainland.
'Mother' locket pin from 52ndstreetvintage
Aside from Hawaiian items, women on the home front might wear a pin that declared their status as a mother or sweetheart of a serviceman, with lockets and frames being especially useful for pictures.
Allies pin by Coro from NoItAll.  The letters refer to the American, British, Chinese and Dutch alliance during World War II.
Flags have always been a patriotic symbol and during war time they were even more popular.  Military emblems and motifs for different branches of the military, bullets, torpedos and planes all found their way into jewelry and other items.
Mexican silver forget-me-not bracelet with Army emblem, from SoCalJewelBox.  Each of the links could be engraved with a loved one's name. 
Forget-me-nots are also found in jewelry, and sometimes the small, five-petaled flower is a subtle love token--not everyone speaks the language of flowers. 
Small pocket mirrors for photo booth pictures
Most of these souvenirs were fairly inexpensive and made in large numbers, but they are getting harder to find today, especially in good condition.
Air Corps silver charm from CuriosityShopper
Trifari airplane pin from JackpotJen
Patriotic frame


  1. Hi Jeni.
    Is the "Remember Me" frame is up for sale?

    1. Hi Cash--Sorry, this frame sold a while ago. Now and then they come up on eBay, you might check there. J.