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Erica Weiner’s Little Pieces of History

She doesn’t create everything from scratch. And that’s a good thing.

Some of the jewelry that fills the cases at Erica Weiner’s Nolita store comes with baggage: The resourceful designer mixes vintage trinkets she digs up at flea markets, antique fairs, and, duh, eBay into many of her creations. And through her years of hunting, Erica has gotten a lot more adept at uncovering the stories behind her ripe-for-revival finds. These are some of the most compelling discoveries in the mix right now.

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“This is a decoder pin for kids that you could send away for. It says “ROA,” which stands for Radio Orphan Annie. You’d listen to the show, and they’d say, “Hey, kids, get out your decoder pin because there’s a new message.” It’s from 1937, and every year there was a different, amazing Art Deco design.”

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“This is a class ring from 1902—like a high school ring. I am not good enough at dating antiques to just look at something and always know exactly when it’s from, but this one’s easy to pin down. It’s printed on the piece.”

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“A lot of the things I find have to do with advertising. I guess the Heinz company gave these away at World’s Fairs. People were into giving stuff away, but this was a really creative form. I think they distributed five million of those—that’s a huge amount of crap to give away.”

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“If you look into this, you can see a naked lady. Some of these pieces are really racy. I don’t know their origin exactly, but they’re older than they look—from the 1870s, maybe.”

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“The black part of this ring is elephant hair—from the tail of an elephant. People would travel to British Colonial India, go on these safaris, and send back jewelry for their wives. Since elephants have long memories, it’s supposed to be a forget-me-not.”

Get a load of Erica Weiner’s latest edition! This (leopard!) lariat necklace is major.