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Have you ever wondered where the tradition of trading and collecting trading pins began? Here's a brief look at the history of the trading pin.

Collectible trading pins have been around for over one hundred years and continue to be popular among sports fans, players, and collectors, alike. But, there's more to trading pins than simple trinkets that attract the eye. Trading pins as a pastime is just as much about tradition as it is about supporting your favorite team or sports players.

Knowing the history of the trading pin will only make you a more popular person to trade with. Not to mention that you'll feel a sense of connection to those that started the tradition and have a shot at becoming a part of history yourself.

If you've always wondered about the history of the trading pin, then you're in the right place. In this article we're discussing how it all began and why collecting baseball trading pins should be a priority for your team. Keep reading to learn more.

The History of the Trading Pin

Once you know all about the history of the trading pin, you can share your knowledge with other pin traders to help keep the tradition alive. The history is what makes it all so fun and exciting in the first place. And, regardless of your affiliation to the pastime, you'll be better equipped to find pins for yourself and your friends or family that make an impact on your collections.

In today's day and age, it's actually difficult to find a reason NOT to collect trading pins. Many sports teams from youth leagues to professional enterprises engage in creating, designing, and trading pins as a way to promote team spirit among players and fans. Some people trade pins solely as a hobby, even if they don't usually participate in the events for which the trading pins are made.


Many baseball pin traders have probably heard the story about how trading pins got their start. For baseball, in particular, it began in the 1920s in Rochester, New York when a local bakery began distributing pinback buttons featuring local baseball players. The bakery offered the pins in four-packs for collection or trade.

But, the real origin of the trading pin itself began at the end of the 19th century in Athens, Greece. It was the first Olympic games where athletes, judges, and officials all wore different cardboard discs with multiple colors to identify themselves. Wearing, distributing, and trading such type pins eventually evolved into the custom that we know today.


When the first Olympic Village opened in Paris in 1924, trading pins grew in popularity because athletes had more frequent contact with each other and officials. Each country featured its own pin. It was not long after that spectators took an interest in trading pins and collections which eventually urged Olympic organizers to limit the number of pins produced in order to maintain exclusivity.

By now, it was 1948 and pin trading and collecting was becoming a popular hobby. Sports fans began organizing their own trading events and the tradition took off with great enthusiasm.


In 1988, Coca-Cola saw an opportunity to get in on the fun and set up an official pin trading center at the Olympic Winter Games in Calgary. This was the first time a corporation became involved with pin trading and it was a great success. Some people arrived at the Games just for the pin trading rather than to watch any sports.

Ever since Coca-Cola's promotion and dedication to pin trading started, it has become known as the number one spectator sport at the Olympic Games. There are now thousands of designs and millions of pins and collectors found throughout the world.


Disneyland parks have always carried pins for their guests to purchase and collect. But, it wasn't until the Millennium Celebration in 1999 when pin trading was introduced at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. The Disneyland Resort in California soon followed.

Now pin trading is popular at Disneyland Parks worldwide. This was the first time in history that a corporation unaffiliated with sports became involved with the tradition of trading pins and it has been a great success. Each branch of Disney, including Disney Cruise Lines, has their own pins and trading traditions.

Why Do People Collect and Trade Pins

Many pin traders, known as pinheads, started their collections by finding trading pins that they really love. These can be pins that are colorful and made with soft enamel to photo-etched pins that depict their favorite sports players. They started trading as a way to broaden their collections as well as make new friends.

Whether you enjoy sports as a player or a fan, or you're just intrigued by the many different types and styles of pins, it's a good reason to collect and trade. You'll not only have fun, but you'll also have something to brag about when your collection takes off.

Make a game of it in itself and see how many pins you can collect in a given year or season. Think of your friends when you're trading so that you'll have something to share with them when you find a pin that they've been looking for. Best of all, create a tradition in your family that's sure to last for generations.

Trading Sports Pins

The tradition of collecting pins is a pastime for many that enjoy sports and other events like scholarly competitions. Some pins even hold significant value depending on how old they are and how many are in circulation. If you're lucky, you may find rare pins that not only add value to your collection but also motivates other pinheads to trade with you.

Trading sports pins is all about camaraderie on and off the playing the field. Whether you're a player or a fan, trading pins is a great way to make lasting friendships. You may even build your own network of pinheads to trade with on a regular basis so that your collection remains diverse and up to date at all times.

If you want to be a part of the history of the trading pin and start your own collection, feel free to contact us! We've been manufacturing and distributing baseball trading pins since 2003 and we look forward to helping you get involved with this timeless tradition.

Looking to make your own custom trading pin? We can help,. Fill out our online form to begin!


Wanna swap? Pin fanatics celebrate Little League the only way they know how- with pins! Trading baseball pins is a hobby with its own unique history and following. Read on to learn

1. The Olympic Connection

The Olympic pin tradition began with the small cardboard badges worn by athletes and officials at the first modern Olympics in 1896. They traded these items as a gesture of goodwill between competing nationalities. Later, official badges and medals were created specifically for athletes and others to trade.

Baseball at the Summer Olympics unofficially debuted at the 1904 Summer Games, in St. Louis, MO. and with it, the pin trading obsession officially began.

At the 1908 games in Paris, different pin styles designated specific groups like media professionals or judges. By 1912, a specific pin was created as a spectator souvenir. By 1924 in Paris pin trading was expected between athletes and officials as a way to represent goodwill between nations.

More than 1 million pins were sold in preparation for the 1936 Berlin Games. Especially rare are pins from the 1940 games, as they were canceled. 1952 saw 218 variations of the participants' pins produced. 1960 brought the first corporate sponsored pins. The 1980 Moscow games firmly established a souvenir pin trading culture- with those pins being exceedingly rare and valuable in the U.S.

The pin-trading tradition was firmly established in 1980's with official trading stations and corporate sets. Because pins are portable, affordable, and diverse they became extremely popular by the 1984 Olympic Games, with nearly 17 million made for trading fans. Coca-Cola and the Hard Rock Cafe sponsored their own swap days and venues, establishing a tradition of pin trading separate from the sports action.

Baseball also made its return to the Olympic Games after a 20-year hiatus in 1984 and with it baseball trading pins. Very popular? Sam the Eagle (the 1984 mascot) swinging a bat.

1988 saw the establishment of the official Coca-Cola pin trading venue and the recognition of the Olympic trading pin to the International Olympic Committee marketing plan for future games.

2. There's a Special Etiquette for Trading

Certain days and venues are scheduled at many events specifically for baseball pin trading. Baseball trading pins are specifically created for each team, tournament, and event. Some pins are very much in demand due to design, scarcity or novelty. Individuals often create unique pins just for trade.

Wear your trades. People who collect usually wear a hat, scarf, vest or shirt to display their pins to swap.

Look, but don't touch (unless invited.) If you want to take a closer look at a baseball trading pin, please use your eyes, not your fingers, especially when the pin is attached to a person.

Negotiations are among equals. If you want to get a pin from another collector, you must present a pin or pins of equal value to that person.

Start a conversation. Introduce yourself and offer one of your pins in trade for the one that you want.

Continue a conversation. Offer information about your interesting pins that others may find interesting. That way, the history of certain pins isn't lost.

Please don't interrupt a trade in progress. Wait until they are finished, and then approach the person.

Remain friendly! Call off a trade if there are raised tempers.

At the end of a deal, shake hands and say, "Thank you," to properly close.

In game tradition. Since the issuing of the first official Little League World Series pin in 1983, at the end of each tournament game, in the handshake line, players trade a commemorative baseball trading pin with a member of the opposing team. This allows players from each team to take away a reminder of their opponent and the Little League memories they experienced together. Along the way, each player may also receive recognition pins for representing their district or region.

All-Star and other Little League events are often centers of pin trading as players barter for rare or innovative pins.

In some trading venues, there are senior pin collectors and traders mingling with youngsters. In other places, unexpected swaps were happening where young people feared to tread. Late night launderers washing uniforms at last year's Little League World Series found themselves with the rare (and hilarious) washing board pin. Hotels, Wegman's and even Dunkin Donuts got in on the fun, each offering their own pin to start swaps.

3. There's No Cutoff Age

The trading tents might be crowded with kids making their first trades and savvy 8-year-olds with a few dozen pins, then there are the big collectors.

Jay Freeman, owner the Natural Energy Utility Corporation and 17 year Little League umpire and usher has been making Little League mascot Dugout pins for more than a decade. He made a pin to reflect each of her 13 different outfits.

Freeman designs his baseball trading pins every year and sends them off to be produced. He creates more than 20 new designs out of his own pocket annually and trades them away by the pocketful. He has a collection of more than 15,000 that grows by three or four thousand each year.

Collector Frank Cataldi has amassed more than 120,000 baseball trading pins since 1979 and is still present in at the Little League World Series each year for trading. He also designs and produces special pins just for trading each year.

Cataldi admits an Olympic connection, as his first entry into collecting was with a 1964 Olympic pin given to him by Olympic gold medalist and Super Bowl Champion Robert Lee "Bullet Bob" Hayes.

11-year veteran Lloyd Vollmuth makes an annual pilgrimage to Williamsport for the Little League World Series specifically for pin trading. The pride of his collection is the pin collected by his son, more than 20 years ago.

Pin trading is easily adopted by youngsters too, with teams bringing their own custom baseball trading pins to tournaments. Even the smallest t-ball player masters the basics of the swap. Last year's Little League World Series champs Kitasuna, Tokyo, Japan came away with incredible memories of their final game, and a few hundred pins.

Check out our collection of pins and let's get started on a design for your swap! Call us at 1-888-998-1746 or fill out our form for a free quote!

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