Guide To Collecting Enamel Pins Like A Pro

October 16, 2023

Collecting enamel pins is soon becoming a leading activity amongst a wide array of collectors and fashion enthusiasts. Have you ever thought of how to collect enamel pins? Where do you even start?

As with any other form of collection, there's an intricate practice that goes into lapel pin collection. There are top enamel collectors who've dedicated their whole time, effort, and other resources to amassing enamels. Some of these collectors have tens of thousands of lapel pins, and they either choose to hold them privately, trade them, or opt to display them publicly.

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Why collect lapel pins

While it is one a popular activity, someone may be struggling to understand why you may be collecting enamel pins. First, if it's a hobby you have had or something you picked up recently, you do not owe anyone an explanation. Two, there are various reasons people collect lapel pins, and you can add yours to the list. Some of the top reasons why people collect enamel pins are;

  • ‍They are an attractive fashion statement that can immensely add to your style
  • They are a functional accessory that you can either choose to wear, collect, trade or even display
  • There is an almost endless supply of lapel pins in the market. There's also diversity when it comes to pins, making it easy to specialize in a specific field or area of interest
  • They are small, making them a relatively cheap item to collect. You can easily store and transport them
  • Since they are small, it's a great way to enter the world of collecting. However, it is also okay to key in on lapel pin collecting
  • It's an investment opportunity. Some lapel pins are really rare, making them pricey. If you know the pins that are in huge demand, you can collect them, hold them, and make a big sale someday.

How did the enamel pin collection start?

There's no easy way to pinpoint the exact point when lapel pin collecting started. However, pin trading can be traced back to the 19th Century, during the curling sports. This is especially backed by the fact that curling sports pins were some of the earliest pins to be collected.

On the other hand, enamel pins go back all the way to around 1800 BC in Egypt. This is around the time when the art of enameling and inlay was prominent. The lapel pins design from this time was made as a result of wire soldering, which would then create the decorative filigree pins.

About 600 years later, around 1200 BC, Greeks realized they could use powdered glass. This was especially helpful in filling in the spaces in between the filigree designs.

The Chinese were next in the revolutionary world of pin collection. They started by perfecting the lapel pin manufacture process. This was accomplished by streamlining the field of enamelware around 1300 AD. A period also referred to as the Yuan Dynasty.

It wasn't until the Ming Dynasty, between 1360 and 1640 AD. However, that lapel pin collection became a mainstream event. By then, techniques on lapel pin manufacture and collection had spread across all continents.

Today, creating an enamel pin has become a widely recognized field. Additionally, more and more people have become lapel pin creators, which has ballooned the rise of the collection of enamel pins. There are more kinds of lapel pins than you can get done with. There's pretty much every kind of lapel pin you could ever think of.

So, while the exact time and point where lapel pins became a collection product are not known, you can still enjoy the art of collecting enamel pins.

How do you start collecting enamel pins?

If you have been collecting lapel pins for a while now, you may know a few of the steps outlined below. However, some of the steps may be new or more efficient than what you currently go through to acquire the right lapel pins.

If you are new to lapel pin collection, these steps will help you come up with an effective way to collect lapels and figure out what to do with them after you've amassed your collection. However, you can come up with new styles or customize the ones listed below.

It's essential to view this as a rough pathway into making you a pro lapel pin collector. You'll be able to customize these tips into something that works best for you along the way. And remember, just because it works for someone else does not mean it will work for you. In fact, this is why you are advised to try experimenting and try to figure your own way. With time and practice, you will grow into a pro lapel pin collector and get the pins you've always desired.

That said, here are a few practical tips to help you grow your enamel pin collection skills and technical ability.

1. Explore a few ideas and key in on the ones that excite you

The world of enamel pin collection is a vast and unending one. If you decide to collect any pins simply, you'll end up with a list of the most generic pins. In this case, the only thing you'll be doing is increasing your lapel pin collection.

You can pretty much find lapel pins in almost any category. For example, if you look at lapel pins in politics, you'll find more than a few belonging to your preferred party. Additionally, you'll also come across enamel pins for your favorite politicians. This just goes to show just how much wide the world of enamel pin collections is.

Whatever your field, whether its sports, schools, politics, religion, or places, you can be sure there's a few lapel pins in the category. If you can think of a name, there are pins about it.

This leads to the next question, how do you even choose from everything available?

One great way to find an exciting topic is by looking at what you're good at or interested in. This helps as it narrows in from all the lapel pins in the world to what you're genuinely interested in. For example, if one of your interests is watching Disney shows, you can collect either the shows or individual characters' lapel pins.

When you narrow in on the kind of enamel pins you're interested in, you can also start seeing the kind of investment you have to put into the collection venture. One of the important things to note is you'll need to keep buying enamel pins in order to grow your collection. As a result, you may have to set a budget aside on how much you can spend in a given time.

You also need to remember that lapel pin collection is often an act of patience. This means you have to be patient even as you are buying and collecting your favorite enamel pins.

In some cases, some lapel pin manufacturers can create custom orders, which can help if you're looking for exotic enamel pin creations. However, if you do develop a concept similar to an existing lapel pin, ensure you follow the copyright laws in your area.

2. Create a record of your existing pins

If you have been collecting lapel pins for a while, you know it can be tough to keep tabs on all your pins. Some collectors have been at it for years, and have collected over 10,000 enamel pins. If you are new to the craft, you may not see the need to have an inventory. However, it is a great idea to record all your enamel pins as you grow.

Having a clear list will help you always know how many pins you have. It will also help you know what kind of lapel pins you have. This will especially prove helpful when it comes to displaying or trading your enamel pins. With a record, you can always know what to fish from where.

Anytime you get a new enamel pin, remember to document it. And, this is not like this only applies to the pins you buy. There will be a lot more pins; you will be able to collect from your networks.

For example, you can find a family member with a lapel pin or two that they don't use. Usually, you'll find older generations with lapel pins. This is because enamel pins are not exactly new. As seen above, the art of enamel pin making predates most of the products available today. A few decades ago, they were a lot more prominent, and chances are you can get a lapel pin or several. You can also get pins from auctions and yard sales.

If you're lucky, you can find a great enamel pin at a throw-away price. From this, you can tell that you need to be proactive when it comes to sourcing for where to get enamel pins.

The other significant aspect of documenting your lapels is you always know how much your collection is worth. Form the documentation; you can also see what is missing. If you've been collecting Disney shows enamel pins, you can tell what is missing from the collection when you create a practical inventory. This will keep you from buying the same kind of enamel pins and guide you on the ones you need to buy to complete your collection.

The better your records are, the more value you can get if you decide to sell or trade the enamel pins. This is because you can clearly show the value of the enamel pin when you acquired it, and its interest over time.

Today, you can have a digital version of the inventory and a manual one. The digital version ensures you can always access it from anywhere. Even when you're in a remote location and buy a new lapel pin, you can add it to the list or confirm if it's already something you have.

A manual version of the inventory will also prove helpful in the lapel collection business. Unlike digital versions, no one can hack into a manual version. This makes it ideal for when you want to have a backup. A backup is especially important if you ever need to refer or incase the digital version gets corrupted.

3. Research on the values of lapel pins

As a lapel pin collector, you will have to attend quite a number of pin collection meets. Additionally, with the aid of the internet, you can view and purchase lapel pins online. This ease of purchase, however, can be easily used against you.

There are numerous cases where novel enamel pin collectors have been swindled when buying lapel pins. For starters, you may end up overpaying for a generic lapel pin. This will be seen as a waste of money, and in some cases, you won't be able to get a refund or even see the person again. If you buy them online and don't know the trusted sources or what to look for, you might get a different lapel pin altogether.

Before you can even start trading or collecting lapel pins, you first have to understand the different values allocated to enamel pins. From this research, you'll know the value of the pins you're interested in. You'll also have a clear indication of the trendiest designs, and if you get one, you'll grab it and add it to your collection.

4. Read up on enamel pins

Other than research on the value of lapel pins, you will need a lot more information. While some of the information can be found online, you could also get several books to grow your skills.

These books have an exhaustive view on the field of enamel pins collection. They include;

  • Tomart's 6th Edition Disney Guide - This is a book that will give you all the information you need to know about Disney pins. If you're planning on being a Disney Pinhead, this book is a definite for you.
  • The Unauthorized Guide to Olympic Pins and Memorabilia - This 2001 publication is a Schiffer Book for collectors that you should add to your reading collection and library. While a little aged, this book is a great resource for newbie and seasoned pinheads. Reading this book will educate you on everything you need to know about enamel pins. It will also ensure that you never get duped when buying lapel pins.
  • 200 Years of Political Campaign Collectibles - As you can already tell, this book is one you'll need to read, especially if you are in the oceanic environment. This informative book spans lapel pins that start back to the first political pins to date. With political enamel pins, there are always more security irregularities. That is why it's harder to find authentic political pinheads, and when you do find the right pins, they are worth a lot more than you expected. This book will help you familiarize yourself with the field of enamel collection and trading. While the book does focus on political enamel pins, you can pick up a lot of information on general collecting and trading tips.‍
  • This blog - The purpose of most of these articles and resources available is to empower you on everything you need to know about collecting, making, and displaying lapel pins. If you're looking for any information regarding enamel pins, this website is a great resource.

5. Go to your first meeting

Most of the steps outlined above are mostly theatrical, and those that aren't can be accomplished on your when with family and friends. However, you will have to dive into the deep end of the enamel pins collection and trading services at one point. When you start off your pin collection and trading, you can either be trading in physical meets or online.

Physical meets are preferred, especially when you're a newbie in the world of enamel pin collection. This is because it is easy to gain the hands-on experience of trading lapel pins.

Physical meets also allow you to forge authentic and beneficial relations that you can turn to if you're in need of help. For physical meets, they may be limited by the region you're in. You'll also have to have information on the venue and location of the physical meets to collect and train.

Online pin collecting is an alternative to physical meets. They are preferred as they have a bigger range. Unlike physical meets, you can trade with someone from a different town, city, or even country. There is also a lot more versatility when it comes to an online lapel pin collection. From the vast array of pinheads, you can get almost any kind of enamel pins.

The one common problem when it comes to trading and collecting lapel pins online is there's always a greater chance of being conned. Since you don't have to interact with the seller physically, they might end up taking your money and sending you something totally different.

How to display enamel pins

After you've gathered quite the enamel pin collection, you may want to either sell or display them publicly. If you do decide to sell them, you will decide the value of the enamel pins. There will be, however, external factors that may influence the price you set. The demand and availability of the specific enamel pins are some of the external factors that will influence your value.

If you choose to showcase your stunning display of lapel pins, there are a few ideas you can borrow from. Some of these ideas include;

1. Lanyards - They have become one of the most popular ways of displaying enamel pins since Disney pinheads set the pace. You can wear your lanyard laid with the enamel pins on your visit to trading events, amusement parks, and other conventions.

2. Cork Boards - They are more familiar with collectors who are looking for permanent displays. While they can effortlessly remain on the cork boards, you can easily rearrange on the display material. You can also interchange them to attain a more uniformed or aesthetic look.

3. Embroidery hoops - They are another collector's favorite based on how easy they are to make and how fast you can customize them. Additionally, with a pair of scissors and the right fabric, you can also play around with the display to have the desired final appeal.

4. Earring displays - Also known as earring trees- are commonly used to display lapel pins from fashionistas and those in the jewelry industry. You can also keep them in your bathroom and use them to show off anytime you have guests.

5. Lampshades - While a relatively new application, lampshades have caught on rather quickly. This can be attributed to the vast design and display ideas. Lampshades are ideal for a number of lapel ideas, and the trend looks like it will stay for a while.

6. Curated collections on particular apparel - Some lapel pins go well with specific clothes, and in such a case, you can use the clothes to display. You can set out the cloth as a display item, or you can have it as your casual wear.

7. Pincushions - How would you like to display your enamel pins in another larger pin? That's what you get when you choose to display your pins in a pin cushion -which is basically a larger version of a pin.

8. Dress forms - Another relatively new yet creative way to display your enamel pin collection is with dress forms. You can display an extensive collection of your pins, and space allows you to play around with how you would like to display.

9. Pin pennants - They are relatively easy to make and are slowly gaining recognition from pinheads all over. You can either buy one or create one customized to your liking.

At the end of the day, you can start and grow your very own lapel pins collection today. To start, you just need to be passionate about the craft and put in the work needed to grow you and turn you into an enamel pin collector.

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