How to Start Pin Collecting and Trade

If you buy pins to accessorise your daily wardrobe, then chances are you're a collector too or at least a budding one.

Lapel pins aren’t just used as a fashion statement. You can also wear them to express your professional affiliation, favourite comics or movies, causes or events attended.

History of Lapel Pins and Pin Collecting

The roots of the pin-making process can be traced back to around 1800 B.C. in Egypt where intricate metalwork or filigree accessories were made through inlay and enamelling. Greeks made an innovation 600 years later, using powdered glass to fill in spaces between wires in worn metalwork. This includes badges worn by military members during the reign of the Roman Empire that identified allies and enemies of the state. Enamelling for pins was perfected by the Chinese between 1271 and 1644 A.D.


The early forms of the pins we know and love today were worn on the lapel of a jacket or coat as custom jewellery. They included flower, button or metal pins for men's suits. Meanwhile, women's pins looked like brooches and cameo jewellery. Later on, many people used them to identify the workplace, school or club/organisation they belonged in.

Pin collecting and trading, on the other hand, is believed to have started around the 1800s. The earliest traded pins were from curling clubs and the Olympic Games. Exchanging of pins became popular among athletes and officials when the first Olympic Village was established in 1924. Then it spread to the masses during the 1980 Winter Olympics. Meanwhile, baseball fans say that baseball pin collecting and trading began in the 1920s when a New York bakery sold pins featuring local baseball players.

Today, Disneyland and Hard Rock Cafe are among the largest organisations promoting pin collecting and trading.

How to Start Collecting, Trading Pins

  1. Take an inventory of your pins, and organise them. Gather everything you have even if they include pins that you don't hope to collect. This will increase the number of pins you can offer later on at a swap or trade event. If you only have a handful, we recommend building on the pieces you currently have, expanding on a common theme. Buy a couple of pins with the same design for future trading purposes.

  2. Store your pins with care. If you don't have a budget yet, get a corkboard or velvet cloth that you can mount on a paper or plastic board to organise your pins. Later on, you can invest in pin albums and cases.

  3. Research about the pins you're collecting. Read up on lapel pin types and how much they're worth, artists or groups producing collectible lapel pins and high-quality best lapel pins for men, where to buy lapel pins online, how to spot genuine ones from the fakes and where trading takes place. Connect with other pinheads online.

  4. Know your trading etiquette. Don't overvalue your pins to get several pins for a single trade. Get advice from another trader or expert if you're unsure about your pin's value. During the actual event, don't touch another pinhead's items without asking them first. Always make sure the pin back is secured when showing or handing your pin to someone. Finally, trade one pin at a time to avoid possible loss and confusion.