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, collectorÕs 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.
Who Are The Pin Traders?
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 oneÕs 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.
How Do You Know What To Trade?
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!
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.
Pin Trading Etiquette (how to trade pins)
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.
- People who want to trade pin usually show their pins in full view on their vest, hat, scarf, lanyard, shirt, jacket or even a towel. If you want to look at their pins, approach them and politely ask if they would like to trade. When invited to view their pins, never touch the other personÕs pins or garment. If you need a closer look, ask the person if they can bring the pin into clearer view. Sometime they will take the pin off the garment for you to inspect more closely. These same rules apply to you when someone asks you to show them your pins.
- Pins should be in good, undamaged condition.
- If you are unfamiliar about a pin, it is appropriate to ask the wearer for additional information, such as its value or whether the design is a limited edition.
- Remember that while you are looking for a pin to acquire, the person you are trading with will also be looking for an acceptable pin for their collection. If you ask for a certain pin, they will want to choose an equivalent trade from your collection. Similarly, if they ask for one of your pins, you will look at what they have and choose a pin that will be an acceptable trade. If both parties are happy with the trade, trade one pin at a time, hand to hand, with the pin backs attached. Following the trade, always thank the other person for the opportunity to exchange pins, and, if you desire, ask to initiate another trade.
- In the event that the parties cannot agree on an acceptable trade, it is perfectly fine to suggest an alternate trading proposal, such as a different pin. If this is not possible, then politely end the trading interaction, but ALWAYS thank the other person for the opportunity to view their pins.
- NEVER feel pressured into making a trade that you are not comfortable carrying out. Furthermore, NEVER force a trade on another person. They must be satisfied with the trade as well.
- On occasion, you may come across a proposal to trade multiple pins for a single pin. This is only acceptable if the value of that single pin is substantially higher than the pins the other person is providing. A thorough knowledge of the value of pin designs is always necessary to ensure that the trades are fair. If you are unsure about the value of a pin, or the fairness of a proposed trade, seek the advice of another pin trader, or others in your party. Remember, it is always acceptable to politely decline a trade.
- NEVER interrupt a trade between two other individuals. Wait until their trading is finished before approaching them.
- Children should ALWAYS trade with a parent present.
Trading Rules At Disney Theme Parks
The following additional guidelines pertain to pin trading within Disney properties.
- The main criteria to judge whether a pin is tradable or not is that it must be a metal pin that represents a Disney Event, Location, Character or Icon. Some pins from our Operating Participants are also tradable, but must represent the Operating Participant in a way that has a specific Disneyland Resort or Walt Disney World Resort affiliation.
- Guests may trade a maximum of two pins with each Cast Member.
- Guests may trade only one pin of the same style with a Cast Member.
- When trading with Cast Members, guests should offer a pin that is not already displayed on the Cast Member's lanyard.
- Disney name pins may not be traded with Cast Members.
- Monies or gifts may not be exchanged or used in trade for a pin.
- In addition to the 12 pins on Cast lanyards, some Cast Members may wear a "Showcase" pin. These "Showcase" pins are for demonstrations to our guests and are not available for trade.
Pin Trading on the Internet
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.
- Email is your primary online communication tool. When composing emails, be polite and courteous, and do not forget to turn off the CAPS LOCK key when typing (upper-case words may be taken by some recipients as shouting!). Allow the recipient time to respond, and if you do not hear from them within a reasonable time, it is acceptable to resend your message. Please remember that a response to your email message may be delayed due to computer system or server issues, or more commonly, the recipient is temporarily unavailable (personal, family or work related). Of course, when you receive an email, respond in a timely manner.
- As in face-to-face trades, understand the value of the pin you are trading for or trading away. If you are uncertain about a pin, ask other collectors, either through emails, newsgroups, message boards or mailing lists. Both parties should inquire about the condition of the pin, and images may be emailed to support the description.
- ALWAYS trade with your instincts. If a trade sounds too good to be true, do your homework, ask the experts, and in the event that you are uncomfortable completing the trade, politely decline.
- When a trade is agreed upon, the parties should confirm the terms of the trade (the exact pin or pins being traded), shipping methods and timing. Confirmatory emails should be sent by each party.
- It is customary for each party to ship their pins simultaneously. First Class shipping is usually sufficient; however, if one party insists on using an overnight service or delivery confirmation, the responsibility of any additional costs should be agreed upon up front. Valuable pins may require additional postal insurance; in this case, the parties should agree who will be responsible for these additional charges.
- Protect the pin from being damaged during shipment by using bubble wrap, padded envelopes or other means. It is appropriate to let the other person know how you will ship their pin and to request the same from them. NEVER ship lapel pins in an unprotected envelope, as damage to the pin and the pin back, or loss of the pin is likely to occur.
- Always ensure that the correct postage is applied to your package. Most bubble wrapped or padded envelopes will cost more to mail than a regular letter envelope.
- When you have shipped your pin, email the recipient with that information. You should receive similar information from the other party when they do the same. In the event that there is a delay in shipping, notify the other party as soon as possible. If you have not received your pin in a timely manner, send the other party an email and politely request the status of the trade.
- When purchasing a pin, be sure you understand the what you are buying, including price and shipping costs/methods. The same rules apply when requesting information about a pin purchase, except that the seller may require payment prior to shipping. When sending payment, always include a copy of the purchasing email to ensure that the seller sends the correct pin to the correct buyer.
- As with any online purchase, ALWAYS ensure that you are dealing with a reputable party. Ask for references, review seller's feedback (e.g., from eBay), or ask other collectors.
- When you have received your pin (either through a trade or purchase), inspect the pin upon receipt. If the pin meets your expectations, email the other party and let them know! This is a good way to develop a long-lasting trading relationship. Many online collectors know each other, and when they come across a polite and professional trader, they share that information with their colleagues. You will then be exposed to many other traders in the online community!
- If you are not satisfied with your pin, email the other party and explain your dissatisfaction. Furthermore, recommend a way in which to rectify the situation, such as a refund or another trade. Most traders and sellers will work with you to make you satisfied. The important thing to remember is to be polite and professional. The nicer you are, the easier the rest of the transaction will be. In the event you come across a bad trade or sale, and you cannot remedy the situation with the other party, ask other collectors in the pin trading community for assistance. A bad trade or sale, especially with a reputable party, is usually rare, and they will normally do what ever is necessary to make you happy.
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.
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