A Complete Guide to Enamel Pin Trading

A Complete Guide to Enamel Pin Trading | Custom Pins Now

There is a lot to know about enamel pin trading, and this article will explain everything you need to know to trade, buy, and sell pins.

What should you know about enamel pin trading? You need to find other traders, what collections are worth the most, and how to keep your pins safe in storage and transit. Pin traders do not need much to get started. All you need is a few lapel pins and a place to keep them safe.

There is a lot more to pin trading than simply attending an event with your favorite pins displayed on your lanyard. There is etiquette to maintain, and it is best to know the more common themes that people tend to trade so that you can be sure to have a favorable collection.

This article will go over how to start out as a brand-new collector and trader, followed by information on what kinds of pins are out there and ways to find other people who share your interests. In no time, your new collection of treasured lapel pins will be proudly on display.

Where to Start

It is effortless to get started in trading enamel pins. They are perhaps one of the easiest hobbies to start, and you do not even have to put a significant amount of time or energy into starting. All you need is one or two lapel pins and the desire to find others who share your same interests.

If you do not have any pins or are not sure how you should start expanding your collection, then there are a few questions you should ask yourself. These questions will help you narrow down your true interests and point you towards some initial trading goals. Without having

What Are You Passionate About?

Anything can be turned into a pin collection as long as consistency is maintained. For example, there are people who are collecting only specific colors or pins that show select themes. Think about what iconography you feel passionate about and see if you find similar pins that catch your interest.

Do You Have a Favorite Kind of Pin?

You can narrow down where to start if you have a certain type of pin that you prefer over others. There are button, hard and soft enamel, and screen-printed pins, to name a few. If you already have some you own that you find you really like, then it might be best to start collecting and trading that kind.

Once you get the hang of trading, buying, and selling pins, then you can expand it to try new styles. This will provide a chance to gain confidence in your trading abilities and provide you with time to learn more about your chosen kind of pin. Starting by trading in a theme or style that you have a genuine interest in makes it more exciting and fun.

What Pins Do You Currently Own?

If you do not have any pins, that is perfectly fine, but if you do, then that might be an excellent opportunity to begin your trading. It only takes two pins to start a series, and you can increase it by buying a few in that same vein before starting to trade with other pin owners. Once you know what pins you have and what you want to get more of, then you are set to start.

How Big is Your Budget?

Pins are a great hobby because you can get started relatively cheap and you can choose to keep it there. Trading specifically is incredibly affordable since you do not have to pay for the new pin in money and instead are trading for your own pins of similar value. However, you will want to anticipate at least a small budget to use initially for building up your number of desirable pins to make trading easier.

How to Find Fellow Pinheads

There are hundreds of thousands of pin collectors all around the world, and it is easy to find them. You can usually find local clubs by looking at local meeting places for notices, or you can look for a university meet up. Since Covid-19 caused community lockdowns and social isolation policies, there are fewer in-person events and more online clubs, which you can usually join for free.

Online Forums

Websites and online forums are prevalent among the pin collector community. You can find buyers, sellers, traders, and creators all sharing their favorite artists and accessories. Below are some websites with active pin communities where you can potentially find designers, collectors, and people to trade with.

If you find yourself interested in a specific theme of pin, you can look online for websites that cater specifically to it. One example is https://www.olympinclub.com/, which is a club for people who collect Olympic pins. These are a great way to find fellow niche pin lovers.

Local Collectors and Events

You can look for local pin clubs and collectors in your area. There has been a recent increase in local conventions and events for people who want to share their pins, so you can look to see if there are any in your city or nearby places.

There are some national and international conventions for pin collectors and trade shows that heavily feature pins but these are not usually annual. You will need to check to see if Covid-19 has changed the policy for any events in your area.

Rules of Conventions and Pin Events

All kinds of people are pin collectors, so you will meet a lot of unique characters. When interacting with each other, you want to make sure that you adhere to social niceties. A few things should be common sense but need to be stated so that everyone is aware that these basic rules should be followed whenever you are interacting with another person and their pins.

  1. Do not touch anyone else’s pins or collections without express verbal permission.
  2. Do not touch the box, material, or whatever display they are using for their pins without permission.
  3. Trade fairly. If you are not sure about your pin’s value or the value of the other person’s pin, then get an expert opinion rather than making assumptions that may over or undervalue them.
  4. Do not attempt to force a trade if you do not have anything that the other person is willing to trade for, even if they have something you really want. They are under no obligation to trade with you.
  5. Treat each other with professional courtesy and civility.

What Your Pins are Worth

When trading, it is vital that you know what your pins are actually worth. This does not always translate intuitively based on how much you paid for them or your perceived value. You will want to check with an expert to get an accurate understanding of how much you should expect your pin to be worth.

To be a fair trader, you will need to make sure that you are not under or overvaluing your pin during exchanges. Even if the pin you own is worth a considerable amount when you look it up online, that does not mean the one in your possession has not suffered some minor damage, which might significantly lessen its value. It is always best to check with a professional.

How to Get a Pin Appraised

There are plenty of online appraisal companies. Veteran collectors can also usually give you a pretty good idea of what your pin is worth. Depending on the pin, you might be able to get an appraisal from a jeweler or pin trading guides like the Tomart’s 6th Edition DISNEYANA Guide to Pin Trading Volume II 6th Edition.

If you have older pins, then you might do best looking at sites like WorthPoint. They have a digital library of items, including pins that can explain how much resale or trading value you can expect for your vintage pieces.

Most Valuable Pins

Military, geographical, and sports genres have some valuable single pins. Disney rare pins are among some of the most prized in the pin world. These include the Ariel On A Carousel and the Super Jumbo Maleficent Dragon’s Gate pins, which have individual resale values of approximately $1,000.

White Whale Pins

A few examples of white whales in the pin world are this trio of sports-themed pins. They have previously sold for quite a lot in an auction, and if you were ever lucky enough to get your hands on one, you would have a very expensive trading pin. These are just a small sample of the type of money that you can get for one that is hard to find.

  • Jackie Robison Rookie Pin (Resale Value: $1,500+)
  • 1927 World Series Press Pin (Resale Value: $6,000+)
  • 1912 World Series Press Pin (Resale Value: $60,000)

Most Commonly Collected Pins

There are some mainstays in the pin collection community. These prevalent concepts are usually easy to get into, which makes them a great way for beginners to ease their way into becoming pin collectors. The most commonly sought-after pins include the following.


One of the best places online to get military pins for your collection is Prior Service, where they have the following categories.

  • Army
  • Marine
  • Navy
  • Air Force
  • US Coast Guard
  • Veteran
  • Calvary
  • Various Operation Pins
  • Service Banners

States and Countries

The site World Flag Pins has over 600 individual state and country pins available for sale. They include flag pins for individual states and countries all around the world. There are also some military and miscellaneous categories.


There are various sites where you can buy or trade vintage and modern corporation pins. These are usually logos but can come in any shape and size. Many companies give out pins as free gifts during special promotions and events, so these are a great way to build your corporation series.

Pop Culture

You can find almost any type of pin imaginable on Pin Treasures or sites like eBay and Etsy. Print-on-demand sites like Redbubble and Printify are also beautiful places to find unique, colorful, and creative pop culture pins. Some designers use popular icons to make their pins on art sites like Deviant Art.


When looking for new pins for collecting or trading, it is best to look for sites that cater to specific sports such as Softball-Pins or Hockey Trading Pins, where it is much easier to find a larger variety. There are also sites made for classic sports pins like Classic Pins, which has sports, military, Disney, corporation, and other themed pins.


There are over 8,000 Olympic pins on Pin Link, where they also have several other popular categories like sports, locations, Disney, and business logos. This is an excellent site for beefing up your pin collection before trade shows.


Best Club Supplies has a great many Rotary pins that you can choose from. Rotary International is an organization meant to bring together people from all walks of life. Having a pin to show your membership and station can be a great ice breaker at business and private events.

Rock and Music

Pins and rock music have had a tight relationship for decades, and that has done nothing to change. If anything, it has simply spread to encompass more music genres, and there are many sites dedicated to them, including ones like Hard Rock and Music in Motion. You can now find pins for pretty much any kind of music, instrument, or band around.


These can include pins for hobbies (e.g., biking, knitting, painting, etc.) or things that you enjoy having in your life (e.g., certain objects, pets, etc.). You can find pins with certain lifestyle vibes that show off your individual attitude. Etsy has some beautiful shops where you can find any kind of pin theme imaginable.


You can collect novelty pins, which are generally pins created for a specific event. This could be anything from a music festival to a corporate retreat. Novelty pins have value in their uniqueness.


A theme can encompass anything from people who collect every possible unicorn pin to those who like certain holiday-themed collections. Anything can be made into a theme, so this covers basically any type of pin stock that falls outside the most known genres (e.g., music, pop culture, sports, etc.).


Fantasy, noir, science fiction, and historical are a few examples of this variety of pin. Actual book pins are also hot, with a lot of people collecting every enamel pin featuring a book or notebook. You can find these in pretty much any bookshop in their knick-knack section.

Some of the most common literary pins included the following.

  • Dragons
  • D&D
  • Faeries
  • Aliens
  • Spaceships
  • Mystery themed pins

Keeping Your Pins Stored Properly

Once you have your pins, you need to make sure they are stored properly so that when you go to trade them, they are still in ideal shape. It can be quite easy to damage some pins – especially vintage ones that might have thinner metal prongs that might bend or break easily. You want to ensure that you have the correct type of storage containers.

Mobile Storage to Trade Events

You can buy pin folios for traveling with your collections to trading events. These are roughly the size of a sheet of paper in width and height, and they have a soft interior with clear plastic to protect the front of the pins from damage during travel. Here is an excellent example of a great traveling pin folio.

You can also get more massive pin albums that create an easy way to build on existing collections since you can add album pages as needed to accommodate more pieces. Safe Pub has some excellent pin album options. You can also get display cases that are glass or plastic with a sliding drawer feature to allow you to bring out your pins for trading.

Long-Term Storage

There are books and boxes that you can use to store your pins long-term. You can get a bag with the capacity for up to 400 pins for only $39.00 on Amazon. There are also similarly priced boxes that you can use, which come in a variety of sizes and shapes.

You want to keep these storage containers in an area that will not go through much temperature fluctuation or humidity changes. When possible, the pin books, boxes, or bags that you use should be kept in airtight, watertight plastic storage containers to ensure that dust, water, and other debris cannot damage them. Most lapel pins are made of metal or plastic, so they tend to be fine for long periods if left undisturbed, but it can be good to check through them once or twice a year to make sure they are not suffering any unintended damage (e.g., water leaking into the container, etc.).

Display Storage

The main disadvantage when it comes to openly displaying your pins is that they can be potentially damaged depending on their location. To keep them in tip-top shape, you should try and do the following.

  • Keep them out of reach of children and pets
  • Keep them out of direct sunlight
  • Keep them in an area that does not have rapidly fluctuating temperatures
  • Make sure your display case has a covering of plastic or glass

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