I have one of the largest collections of travel shield charms in the world. I have acquired tens of thousands of shield charms that are organized and alphabetized by country, city, state or town location. I have hundreds of shield charms bracelets that still contain all of their original charms. I frequently list my duplicates on eBay and sell charms from my online shield charm store. I am the editor of the Shield Charm Collectors Guide which contains a comprehensive collection of vintage enamel shield charms from all over the world. This handy online guide assists collectors in their search, so they can browse photos of travel shield charms that exist and locate the travel shield charms that they are interested in collecting or purchasing. Someday I will write a print version in book form.
If you are looking for a specific charm don't hesitate to contact me. I fulfill wish lists so feel free to contact me via email at email@example.com and I'll do my best to locate the charm for you. I will send pictures for you to choose from.
How I got started:
I saw my first shield charm bracelet at a market in Greenwich, England while wandering around London. I didn't buy it because the GBP was twice the USD at the time. I thought about it for days and returned home in the US. I couldn't stop thinking about it so I sent my husband who was working in London back to Greenwich to see if he could find it at the market. No luck. So I decided to look on ebay. I found tons of them. The first one I purchased is still one of my favorites, it had older charms and it was a lot prettier than the usual bracelets. I still have it intact.
I started to collect charms from places that I've visited. This "Places I've Been" bracelet is still my favorite even though it is way to full to wear comfortably. I'll be breaking it down into two bracelets since I have enough charms to fill two places I've been bracelets. My London Bracelet soon followed along with Paris, then my Caribbean Islands bracelet. And another of my favorite bracelets that I rarely wear is appropriately named "favorite charms" bracelet. I love the old shields with enamel baked into the silver. I selected my favorite unique charms and packed them onto this bracelet.
I started gathering every shield charm I could find. Being a graphic designer by trade I thought that I had an eye to reassemble bracelets so they would look prettier. I harvested charms from my ever growing collection of bracelets and made themed bracelets from all of the extras that didn't make it on to any of my personal bracelets. I'd look through hundreds of bracelets and sorted shield charms into piles of boats, ski trams or flowers, characters or animals and made bracelets to sell to support my shield charm collecting habit. I carefully lined the charms up by color and attached the charms so each charm complemented the charm next to it. When these bracelets develop over time charms just get randomly added as they are collected so a bit of visual continuity gets lost. When I assemble a new bracelet I also add new jump rings and what a huge difference that makes.
I was originally trying to collect as many charms as possible so I could have one from each location ever made. Ha! I soon realized that there were millions of locations manufactured. So I gave up on that before I ended up bankrupt and focused on Italy charms since I am Italian and Italy is one of my favorite places. I collected like a maniac and ended up making about 7 fully loaded Italy bracelets and two Italy necklaces jam packed with Italy charms. My favorite Italy travel bracelet contains the muted tone charms, some are sterling silver, some are silver plated and some are brass or copper. I soon had enough charms from each location to refine those bracelets into specific cities in Italy. Rome, Florence, Venice, etc.
I love everything about shield charm collecting. I like the hunt and acquisition of new charms, I enjoy the creative process of making jewelry, I love the way the charms look and feel and the way they lightly jingle when your arm is moved. I love learning about the places depicted on them..it takes me there even though I've never been there. I learn a lot more geography and that helps when watching Jeopardy. I love meeting fellow collectors and making new friends from my customers. I have a passion for my hobby and love to share what I've learned with others. I love making my customers happy when I provide them with a charm that is a treasured memory for them. I especially enjoy seeing customer photos of their bracelets that I have had a part of helping them create. What a fun hobby. I am so lucky that I can do something that I truly enjoy and I get to make other people happy at the same time.
About Collecting Graphic Travel Related Things:
I'm a collector by nature (thanks, Mom). I have a fascination for vintage, Art Deco, roadside retro 50's type things, and my graphic design style reflected these styles. I especially enjoyed typography. I started lettering while in church as a young child. I borrowed the old Lutheran hymnals and copied the old style lettering from the books. I recently bought an old German leather bound bible for 5.00. The cover is hand tooled and embossed leather. Spectacular. And the artwork and lettering inside is even more spectacular.
When my mothers friend who owned an ad agency retired in the early 80's, he gave me a bunch of boxes of 50's clip art. I was in heaven. I scanned a lot of the books so I'd have a digital copy and archived them. For the next few years I did a lot of cool stuff with this clip art.
As a professional graphic designer (now a web developer, so typeface selection is limited) I still loved alphabets. Logos were my specialty. A lot of logos included heraldry elements since I have a fasciation for heraldic coats of arms. (Before computers I collected press type and lettering books.. Oh yeah, and if you haven't guessed, I like old letterpress wood type blocks too. I collected fonts. I have every digital typeface from every type foundry. A whole backup disk full now. Fellow graphic designers called me the Font Queen. I was just recently bestowed with a new title by a fellow charm seller. The Shield Charm Queen. It's good to be queen! I've also been called the Sink Queen. But that's a story for another time.
As a child I had a stamp collection, I didn't care for the typical method of stamp collecting ...having to log them into books, no patience or attention span for that. Most designers, artistic and creative people that I know have a bit of ADD. Hmm, what was I saying...oh yeah I was talking about stamps. Well, I made collages out of my stamps instead. I glued them (by theme) onto wooden boxes, greeting cards, whatever...and made gifts for friends. A pilot friend got a wooden box with all flying things and airplanes. I'd sort through boxes of stamps and look for stamps with animals on them and make animal theme collages. I "collaged" anything you could think of from picture frames to furniture. I soon moved on to collecting coins and currency from places that I've been, I display them in glass topped shadow boxes in my office. I have collections of 50's diner menus, graphic design books, world music. I can't even talk about my family tree scrap booking phase. I single handedly kept Michael's Craft Store in business in 2007.
I also make beaded jewelry and have an amazing collection of beads that I will never end up using because it takes me to long to decide which beads to use. This led me into jewelry design. Shield charm bracelets are easier to make than beaded jewelry, you just attach one and you can easily remove it at anytime. I like the flexibility and ease of just having to add a jump ring. These days I have the attention span of a gnat and arthritis is setting in. sigh. So just playing with two sets of jewelers pliers are a challenge. My beaded jewelry career is over, so I will be selling beads soon.
I dabbled in collecting sterling silver matchsafes but that got too expensive before amassing a displayable collection. I kept a sterling silver bird and it has a front row premier position on my mantle. I also thought I'd collect Stanhopes but maybe I'll just make one bracelet full of them when I think of a theme – as if being so tiny and cool isn't enough. And I was thinking about making a bracelet with all English moving mechanical charms. Maybe someday. Gotta draw the line somewhere.
I collected Vintage Curt Teich large letter postcards for US States, and that soon became US cities and so on. I made a few coffee table books filled with my postcard collection. I think that the next step was to find something that I liked as much as postcards but had a better purpose.
I'm sure you can see why I am fascinated with shield charms. They are miniature postcards that you can wear! How perfect. All of my interests in the perfect little item. I can wear it. And share it. This is the best thing, ever!