The true origin and history of pinning is a bit of a mystery, but there are some things that we can say on the topic. Pins have an exceptionally long history and there are many branches along the line, including communities like Disney pin collectors. While lapel pins date back to almost 3,800 years ago, enamel “hat” pin in the sense of this community are a much more recent invention. Their roots trace back to bands like the Grateful Dead. The musical groups and fan bases began releasing simple pins with their logo and symbolic things about their culture. These pins were designed with an eye towards collecting, trading, and showing appreciation for the group and music and were well embraced by the music community. Pin making, selling, collecting, and trading had wide appeal and spread beyond traditional “jam bands” into every corner of the music festival scene. Many embraced the accessory and the “hustle” that selling pins provided.

As pins spread throughout the community, they began to evolve, becoming more artistic and intricate until we arrived at the wide range of offerings available today.

After the rise of the internet and social media platforms, like Facebook, pin collecting and the community it surrounds became streamlined, connecting thousands of collectors from across the world at the touch of a button and providing new places for people to buy, trade, sell, and mingle with other collectors at any time. With that, pins began to spread far beyond the traditional music festival community and many people from all walks of life found themselves enjoying the experience of pin collecting.

Community

The pin community is vast, involving many artists, containing many producers, and spanning many groups on Facebook alone. It is difficult to describe pins through broad stroke terminology, but there are many overarching similarities that can be used to help subcategorize and define the market. For instance, it is hard to say “The pin community dresses this way” or is a certain demographic of people, or even that they necessarily have similar interests. However, there are things like a “Pin Vocabulary” that remains consistent between all the different facets of pinning. If you are interested in learning about that vocabulary, you can find it in the Basics of Pinning document of the Pookster Productions group.

Although the community is widespread and is sometimes only loosely connected, there remains a sense of it having a small and tight-knit atmosphere. It is vital that members maintain a positive reputation as news travels fast between the many groups and subsects of the community. Unscrupulous acts, scamming, toxic behavior, and slew of other detrimental actions could leave a member with few connections. Members are not afraid to shine a spotlight on nefarious actions of others in an effort to protect the community, which very often leads the negative influencers being banned from part or all of the community. We have put together a guide that will help you avoid acting in a way that may make you an unwelcome person within the community, which can be found in the Buy / Sell / Trade Safety Guide in the file section of the Pookster Productions group.

Culture

On the topic of culture, what is the pin culture like? We cannot speak for its entirety, like mentioned above, there are many subcultures within the enamel pin market, but we can speak to the subset focused more on music and art as primary influences with some authority. This subculture has a heavy influence from the music and festival scene, with many members regularly attending those events. There are certainly pin collectors who do not listen to the music or attend festivals, but they were likely introduced to this scene by someone who was or have become connected with those that are. As such, you will see many hallmarks from the festival culture carry over into the world of pinning.

This includes:

  • Bartering being widely practiced
  • Production of pins or pin purchases with the intent to sell or trade for other memorabilia at festivals to stay connected to that person and time
  • Gifting pins to others to spread joy
  • A passion for the art and beauty of it all

Another major feature of pinning, even within our subculture, is that it has become a collectors' market. We explore the topic of trading in this collector’s market later, but it is central to much of the community engagement and provides great appeal for many of the community members. Every member has their own interests and preferences regarding what they collect, be it specific colors, themes, symbols, animals, etc., and for some that includes the “chase”. The “chase” is the act of having a list of pins the person would like to own and the actions of working to acquire those pins be it through aftermarket purchase, trade, or even scoring a pin right when it gets released. For some, this becomes a hobby in and of itself and large groups have formed for the sole purpose of aftermarket buying and trading of these items.

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