Do’s and Don’ts of Pin Trading

by Denis Gregoire

Pin collecting doesn’t have to be extremely expensive. It is the nature of a collector to
attempt to get as many items as possible by using a variety of sources that are relatively
inexpensive. Part of the fun of collecting is to be able to acquire items without investing
too much money. To be successful, however, one has to have a lot of initiative – such
as being able to write letters, approach people who are wearing pins, establish business
contacts . . . and even have a pin of your own produced. (A nice pin can be produced for
less than $3.00 each when you order 300 pins).

Like in any collecting, you can proceed as fast as you wish . . . you decide where you want
to go with pin collecting. When you start, you must try to get a variety of pins. The easiest
ones to get generally are those from towns and villages. When you have access to pins, you
try to get as many as you can, even of the same type in order to have a pool from which to
trade. You cannot trade if you don’t have any traders. The more you have, the more you
can trade.

Most people trade pins on a one for one basis hoping to get equal value for the pins traded.
You should not always trade all your good pins first because someone may have a pin
(or pins) you really like but that person may not agree to trade for what you have left.

As one becomes more involved in pin collecting, one becomes more knowledgeable. Too
many people put all their pins loosely in a box or bag. Every pin should be in an individual
plastic bag or pinned on a foam, felt or other type of material so as to avoid scratching
it. Once a pin is scratched, it loses part of its value and real collectors avoid trading for it.
When trading, pins should be well displayed on a matte board so as to make them more

We are now exposed, more and more, to pirated pins. These are pins that don’t come
from the official suppliers. They are worth much less or nothing. The most pirated ones
are pins from the Olympics and from professional sports teams. When someone approaches you and states that he has connections and has access to great pins . . . beware. They may be copies of official pins – not the original ones. Pirated pins cost very little to make and are sold for substantially higher.

After experimenting with different display materials, I found that FELT, so far, was the best material available on the market. Foam is better only for pins with a safety back and foam fades in colour in the sun.

If you are wearing an expensive or beautiful pin, invest in a superior flat tie tack back.
Generally, they cost between 50 cents and seventy-five cents each.

When mailing pins to other people, you should protect them by wrapping them carefully
inside a padded envelope / pouch because mail sorting machines may damage them.
Putting a fragile sticker on the padded envelope / pouch might help.

Details on a pin is what makes a pin generally more attractive and sought after. If you
wish to have a pin made, make it a nice one. What is the point of making a pin if it isn’t
attractive! The most common and appealing size is the one inch pin. It is large enough for
some details to show and not too big to wear so that it won’t look gaudy.


A good way of displaying and carrying pins is to put them on paper sheets, cardboard, and
even better, FELT, which is then placed in a binder. When trading with people, they can just turn the page (display material) and browse. Like in any hobby, if you want to become serious, you have to invest money. One approach can be instead of smoking a pack of cigarettes or buying liquor, just set aside the money for your hobby; re-priorize.

I hope that these bits and pieces of information will help you in your pin trading and make it more enjoyable and less frustrating