- Written by Jeff Summers Jeff Summers
As I was growing up, I had the opportunity to play Little League baseball. After the regular season was over, there would always be an All-star team selected. These All-stars would form a traveling team that would play in tournaments throughout the region. I happened to be lucky enough to be selected to play on several of these teams which gave me the chance to meet other ball players from various parts of the country. Before we would leave for a tournament, our sponsors would give us lapel or hat pins to trade with other players. It became a big hit with the players as we soon would have pins from several different places. This was my introduction to pin trading.
After baseball, I continued to be fascinated with pins and the artwork that went into making them. As I would travel I would look around and see if I could find a pin that would document the location and add it to my collection. Early on pins were not plentiful and most of the locations happened to be around ski resorts since pins were used to add to ski jackets to let others know where you had skied. Soon though other places began to see demand rise and pins were created for nearly everywhere. As the years went by and I traveled more, my collection grew.
When I began working, I would go to different expos or trade shows. There, vendors and manufacturers would have pins that advertised their products. I found in many cases, I was more interested in their pins than I was in their merchandise. They would usually give me one of their pins and I would add it to my collection.
After Trina and I were married we made a trip to Disneyland in California and I wanted to find a pin to signify this trip. We searched each shop within the park and no one had pins. Finally we found one jewelry pin that had Disneyland written on it. Through 1999 we made several trips to Disneyland and each time I find that there are more pins available. In 2000 I had an opportunity to speak at a Microsoft conference in Orlando Florida. I never pass up an opportunity to go to Orlando since that would allow me to visit Walt Disney World.
When I went to the parks I found that Disney had adopted pin trading as part of their millennium celebration. There were pins everywhere and I was in heaven. The Toy Story movie had just been released and was quickly becoming a favorite at our house. I decided to buy the Toy Story movie character pins. I purchased a Slinky Dog pin. The girl at the check stand rang up my purchases.
She had on a lanyard filled with pins. I commented that she had some very nice pins and she asked if I would like to trade. I had never heard of such a thing and had nothing to offer her in return. She said she would accept the Slinky Dog pin as a trade so I traded my newly purchased pin to her in exchange for an Epcot pin.
I started walking through the parks when I came to another pin kiosk. There I purchased a new Slinky Dog pin to replace the one I had just traded. Again the young woman behind the desk had on a lanyard of pins and I commented on her collection. She asked if I would like to trade and I again explained that all I had was the pin I had just purchased. She said that would be find and traded my Slinky Dog pin for a Disney MGM Studios pin.
This was all very confusing to me as I could not figure out why everyone wanted my Slinky Dog pin. In Epcot there was a small shop called Pin Central. They had all different types of pins and I went there to purchase more pins. One of the ones I bought was again the Slinky Dog. Again the girl wanted to trade for it. After the trade she asked if I noticed the error on that pin. It seems the Slinky Dog did not have a butt that connected the spring. Ah hah! Disney was trying to remove the errors from their products that must be it! It wasn’t it at all but for the longest time that was my assumption.
Pin Trading became a very large thing for Disney and they have hosted several pin events. I have been fortunate enough to attend a few of these and they are always a lot of fun. I have even hosted a few pin events of my own which have been lovingly referred to as the Great Pin Adventure. As part of these events I have designed pins of my own and have had them manufactured to be given to participants.
When Salt Lake City was chosen as the location for the 2002 Winter Olympics I knew that I wanted to attend. In the time leading up to the Olympics we made several trips through Utah. During one such trip we stopped at Trolley Square in Salt Lake City and found the Olympic Spirit Store. This was an amazing store that contained all sorts of Olympic merchandise. Among this merchandise were Olympic pins. I was amazed at the number and style of these pins and quickly began collecting them.
Included in this were the fabled food pins that represented the foods of Utah the most coveted being the “green Jell-o” pin. For two years I collected Olympic pins before the Olympics so that when I arrived at the games I had several pins available for trade. For two weeks I went to events and saw world class athletes compete. I also met some of these athletes and traded pins with them. It was an experience of a lifetime.
As time goes on I still find myself collecting these tiny pieces of metal and adding them to my collection. Each pin I have comes with a story that describes how it was obtained and what it means to me. Through these tiny pieces of art I am able to chronicle a lifetime of memories. I invite you to look around as I display my pin collection on-line. If you see something you like, let me know. Perhaps I have more than one and we can trade. If you have something I might be interested in, please contact me. I look forward to hearing from all of you.
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