WWII RAF Sweetheart Brooch
An original WWII example that was hand carved from mother of pearl, with a safety pin attached to the reverse. These are often called 'Bethlehem badges' and they were carved before the First World War as souvenirs for tourists to the Holy Land and often included religious imagery such as crosses and crucifixes, the Star of Bethlehem, the Star of David and doves. The original source for the mother of pearl used in Palestine was the Red Sea, but by the Second World War some of the raw material was imported.
When Bethlehem was captured by British and Commonwealth forces in late 1917 a new market developed targeting allied soldiers and unit badges carved from mother of pearl were popular as sweetheart brooches and were bought by military personnel to send or take home to their wives or girlfriends. Some are engraved 'Bethlehem' or 'Palestine' on the reverse but this one is unmarked so we cannot establish its precise origins. Suffice to say it is a lovely period example of the type and features standard 'RAF' lettering to centre with laurel leaves and wings, surmounted with a Kings Crown above. This would make an ideal Christmas present or stocking filler for the RAF or sweetheart badge collector in your life. Small, but beautifully formed, the wings measure 2.25" (5.5 cm)