Pin trading is the activity of making a mutually agreeable exchange of one lapel pin for another. This is usually performed face-to-face, or more recently, over the Internet; the latter being orchestrated through emails, collector's websites or message boards. Many collectors will gather at sporting events, such as the Olympic Games, at venues that encourage pin collecting specific pin designs (e.g., Hard Rock Cafes and Disney parks) and at lapel pin shows and swap meets. The scope of this review is to explore the points to consider governing safe and enjoyable pin trading, both in person and on the Internet, and provide information on how you can begin your journey of the exciting hobby known as lapel pin collecting.
Pin traders come in all shapes and sizes; from young children to seniors, the novice (or newbie) to the long-time collector, and those who have never traded but are intrigued by the hobby to those who are looking for that last, elusive pin to complete their collection. Pin trading is a phenomenon, and for some, an obsession! Known as the most popular spectator sport of the Olympic Games, pin trading has become an enjoyable way for people to meet others from around the world. Furthermore, pin trading offers a memorable Olympic experience for serious pin collectors and fascinated spectators alike.
For the first time trader, negotiating for another pin may be challenging, but after a few trading experiences, one usually finds themselves caught up in the excitement of negotiating for another design that they are very interested in. Furthermore, many pin traders, commonly known as "Pinheads," view the interactive trading experience as a great way of meeting people. Pin traders learn to communicate without words, pointing at pins on one's shirt, scarf or hat, offering another pin as an acceptable exchange, smiling and shaking heads when the trade is accepted, and expressing a "thank you" when the trade is completed. This is what normally happens during the Olympic Games, where participants trade pins with visitors from all over the world, and with many who do not even speak their own language.
This is difficult to answer, because there is an enormous number of pin designs that can be exchanged. For example, at recent Olympic Games, over 10,000 separate commemorative, mascot, sponsor, media, National Olympic Committee (NOC) and law enforcement designs may be manufactured. Hard Rock Cafe pin collectors are also well aware that there exist thousands of guitar, staff, opening, anniversary, waitress and holiday pins, and new designs are released on a regular basis. The same is true for sports, hot air balloon, law enforcement, food and beverage, transportation, comics and movie pins. Therefore, pin trading can be an expensive hobby, and, for many, can become an obsession!
Obviously, you cannot collect them all. So how do you decide? First, you will have to set your own limits. Consider starting a collection on a particular theme and then trade for pins within that theme. At first, you may need to purchase a number of pins to start your collection. It is not necessary to purchase expensive pins or pins that are very limited in value (and as such would command a higher price) in order to get started. At Disney theme parks, for example, there are inexpensive pins that you can acquire, which will be acceptable traders with cast members and other park guests. Once you have pins to trade, you must learn the proper techniques for trading, or pin trading etiquette.
The most important thing to remember during a pin trade is to have fun! Pin trading is a great way to meet and interact with people. You will come across individuals who have very little trading knowledge to those who have traded for many years. Use this opportunity to learn and practice proper etiquette and enjoy the experience! The following points to consider will help you get started.
The following additional guidelines pertain to pin trading within Disney properties.
There are at least one thousand websites specifically related to lapel pin collecting that the average surfer can find on the Internet. A site may offer pins for sale or trade, a list of pins that the site owner is looking for (usually for their private collection) and information about new pin designs within a particular collecting topic. The links at the top of this page will direct you to the world's most active Olympic, Hard Rock Cafe, Disney and topical pin collecting sites, as well as online guides and electronic venues for interacting with thousands of fellow pin collectors on a global scale. The best part is that this can occur within the comfort of your own home! The list of pin designs that are available for trade or sale is endless (to get an idea, check out our list of topical pin links by clicking on the menu bar located at the top of this page). In addition to visiting individual pin sites, other online communication tools, such as newsgroups, message boards and mailing lists, can provide a wealth of pin collecting information. Furthermore, these Internet communication tools make it easy to interact with hundreds, if not thousands, of pin collectors worldwide (links to these resources can also be found at the top of this page).
Human communication is a fascinating subject. When we meet face to face, we interpret the combined signals of another person's vocal tone and volume, facial expressions, eye contact, body language and words to understand another person's ideas. On the phone we rely on vocal tone and volume to help bring meaning to our words. When we communicate in writing, we need to convey all those things that our body normally helps us out with just in words. And for the most part, words make up the communication that takes place in newsgroups, message boards and email. That's why it is important to learn "netiquette."
It's a combination of "network" and "etiquette," but it's more than a cute play on words. This informal code of manners governs online conduct, and it stems from the practices that you would normally follow when interacting with another pin collector face-to-face. Obviously, the pins you will be trading for (or buying) will not be in front of you, but rather, will appear in the form of online images (pictures) and/or text descriptions. The following online good manner practices will help make your online trades just as safe and enjoyable as if the other person were standing in front of you.
Sometimes, no matter hard you try, and no matter how much you want a particular pin, a trade is not going to happen. Traders have turned down multiple pins for a single pin because they are looking for something just as special or just as valuable as the pin they are ready to trade away. The thrill of pin collecting is finding that elusive pin...the one that got away...even if the perfect trade happens years down the line. The most important aspect about pin trading, whether online or face-to-face, is to have fun and enjoy the hobby, and to meet other pin collectors in the process. Whether you are trading at a Hard Rock Cafe, a pin show, a sporting event, or in front of your computer, the thrill of the trade is what keeps us going, and for many of us, that's where the fun begins.