Pewter Pins

As you may know, I have lately begun to collect brooches. Of course, it is impossible for me not to answer to this invitation from Une femme d'un certain age. (I´m not a style blogger, so please kindly overlook the un-stylish photography. This post is really all about the brooches.)

Update: Go see all the other brooches at Une femme d´un certain age

I´d like to show you some of my Swedish pewter brooches. I remember these from when I was little, ladies of my grandmother´s age would wear them, and brooches were really popular in the 50´s and 60´s. Not so much now, though. About six months ago I walked into the major jewellery store in Luleå and asked for brooches. They couldn´t turn up A. Single. One. Really. I find mine on Ebay, where you can get them at ridiculous prices. However, I have an inkling they are coming back in fashion. Personally, I started wearing them because I wanted to add some more sparkle to my style, and necklaces don´t work well with the way I move. Everytime I sit down at a dinner table, the dangly things fall into my plate, and sometimes there is food on there. It just became a very unstylish mess, much of the time.

Sweden has been organized into provices called landskap, at least since the early 17th Century, when Sweden was bureaucratized by king Gustavus Adolpus and his chancellor Axel Oxenstierna. This was when Sweden was a European super-power, a warrior nation feared on the continent. In some languages, prison bars are still called "Swedish curtains". Every province has its own symbolic flower, and in the 1950´s several pewter smiths started making series of jewellery with these flowers on them. I have two brooches symbolizing the provice where I was born, Uppland, and the province where I grew up, Sörmland, and I toyed with the idea of collecting them, but honestly, they are pretty ugly and stay in my drawer most of the time. These two were both made in 1956 by Rune Carlsson, who later changed his name to Tennesmed (pewter smith). I have them because they remind me of wonderful old ladies who were important to me.

One of my favourites is also by Rune Tennesmed, and it´s this one, with a green glass bead. When I bought it, it was oxidized almost completely black, and it took some intense polishing to get it to where it is now. I was at it for weeks, actually, to prevent my arms from going numb from all the rubbing. He made several styles of these, and I wouldn´t mind owning more of them. It doesn´t have a year stamp on it, so I can´t tell when it´s made. I wear it often, but it´s quite heavy and needs a sturdy base, like a jacket or a coat.

This one is pretty ugly, but in a cool kind of brutalist way. It´s a stylized viking ship. Do you see the viking king standing in the front of the ship, with his crown and golden collar? No doubt all prepared to jump off at the shores of Britain, to kill, rape, and rob the poor English of all their silver. As they did.

It was made by Erik Fransson in Älmhult in 1955. I am very interested in history, particularly the Iron Age, and these motifs appeal to me very much.

Erik Fransson also made this leaf, which is my latest aquisition. I have seen several of these pass through Ebay, but prices have always gone a bit too high for me. This time, I was the only bidder, so much luck! (20 SEK = 3 USD!!!!) I haven´t used it yet, but pinned to my winter hat I think it looks really, really classy.

I do think that brooches with flower/plant motifs are very easy to wear, they dress up almost anything in a neutral, pretty kind of way.

These two, I love. You´d think they were made by the same person, but they are not. The square one is also by Erik Fransson, in 1962, and the rounder shaped one is by Knut-Erik Wallberg in Vittsjö, of Wege Tenn. It was made in 1969. The motif is Swedish petroglyphs from the Bronze Age.

When I was about 12, a very rainy summer, my mother took my siblings and me on a tour around the south of Sweden. I remember how we looked at petroglyphs, all wearing matching yellow raincoats. In spite of the foul weather, it was one of my best vacation trips, ever. This may be why I love these brooches so much.

Pewter is also a material often used in Sami handicraft, a specialty here in Lapland. The embroidered leather bracelets have been all the rage among fashionable youngsters (I have even seen them featured in magazines like Vogue), so you may have seen those. I picked this one up at a flea market for pennies. I have taken it with me when I travel, since it´s rather light-weight and will work even with tops in a lighter material. It was made in Jokkmokk, where the Sami artist Lars Pirak, among others, worked as a designer. I can´t tell, though, who made this particular brooch, or when.

This one is also rather small and pretty, and made here i Luleå by Lars G Svedjestrand at Gammelstad Konsthantverk och Tennsmide, in 1987. He doesn´t have a webpage that I can find, but some pewter jewellery from Lapland can be found here. No brooches, though, as far as I can see. Because they are not fashionable, I suppose.

I´d like to finish with something that is not pewter at all, but silver. And it´s perhaps not technically a brooch, either. It more like an Iron Age safety pin. I bought it at Birka, a museum built around the archeological excavation of one of the oldest known towns in Sweden. I think it fits with the general theme here, and I love it.  
 Hope you have enjoyed! And many thanks to Un Femme!


  1. These are great...I like the simplicity of them. The square with the green glass bead is my favorite. I have not seen anything like it! Nice post!

  2. Glorious. Really wonderful aesthetic.

  3. i agree with pam about the square one with the glass bead. i'm googling Rune Tennesmed and seeing some more wonderful pieces.

    i like to read, too, though i'm a big science fiction fan and i see you aren't. i'm subscribing to your feed. it's interesting to read your reflections on what you've read even if the books haven't been translated into english. i see you like kundera, and i always enjoy his books.

    1. I´m happy to appeal to another reader as well! Welcome.

  4. Wow, I loved reading about your pins and the stories and history behind them. These are real treasures. Thanks so much for linking up to the brooch party today!

  5. Wow, what an interesting post on a particular type of jewelry. I was fascinated by your story-telling and the background on each piece. They really do need to be displayed when you're not wearing them! Thanks for visiting Project Minimia too.

  6. These are wonderful! I think my favourite is the Viking ship and perhaps the one with the "eye" (green glass bead).
    And I'm delighted to discover your blog, through Sue's invitation to share our brooch collections. I'm off to poke around on other posts here, find out what you've been reading and what I might want to -- thanks!

    1. I´m always happy if I can inspire other readers. Some of the books I write about are not available in English, but I hope my reflections can still spark an interest in another reader to go look for books in other directions that he or she might not otherwise do.

  7. Beautiful pins and stories! I have a piece that was given to me in the 70's that resembles the last piece you showed. I'm happy to know a little more about the style. The pieces you show are just gorgeous. Thank you!!

  8. Geautiful, so atmospheric and local. The "safety pin" is fascinating, can't stop looking at it.

  9. I loves brooches! Mine sit mostly in my jewelry box waiting for an event. I may need to pull them out and wear them anyway. I always, always, wore them when I wore suits for work, but stopped wearing suits and my pins after moving to the UK.

    I love the viking ship and the flower one that looks like snowdrops.