Collecting lighter lapel pins

Zippo's 5th Anniversary 1932-1937 pin
A lapel pin is a small pin often worn on the lapel of a dress jacket. Lapel pins can be purely decorative or can indicate the wearer's affiliation with an organization, company, cause or even a product.

In recent years although, pin collecting has become a very popular hobby this is why they can also be seen on lanyards, bags, belts, hats and specially designed cards which help to store and display pins. It is a very affordable hobby although prices range from everything below $1 to over $500 dollars for very sought after pins or made of precious materials like gold. Pins also require limited space which might be another pro for starting a collection.

Devoted pin collectors may choose from many discussion forums, pin events and pin clubs to trade and talk about their hobby and special interest. Because of the big variety of pins collectors focus on lapel pins associated with a particular theme.

Lighter collectors might enjoy the fact that there is a quite substantial amount of very interesting pins on lighters and other tobbacciana items. I have started to research this interesting field less than 6 months ago and I was able to gather almost 20 different lighter lapel pins made between 1970s and 1990s; mainly Zippo, Feudor and Cricket. I guess there is still room to acquire more of them.

Lapel pins are made in various ways although the most common methods are:
  • Cloisonné (hard-fired enamel) - the design is stamped into brass or other metal and the recessed areas are filled with enamel which is then fired at a high temperature (800-900); this process allows to get high quality pins with a very high level of detail and color.
  • Soft enamel (embossed) - the process is like Cloisonné although the metal areas are slightly raised while in hard-fired enamel process the whole surface is highly polished to a luster); the top can be covered with protective epoxy. Below you may see how the lapel pins are made in one of the production plants in Canada:
  • Die struck - a popular production method to get a all-metal pin with sharp detail, contrast and nice relief. Usually the raised areas are highly polished and the recessed areas below the polished metal might have a textured, matte or antique finish, most of the Zippo pins is done this way)
  • Etched pins (only the shape of the piece is stamped out. The design on the face of the pin, is chemically etched into the base metal, then color-filled by hand and baked before being polished. In the final step, a thin coat of clear epoxy can be applied to the surface.) Epoxy coating is optional.
  • Other techniques that might be used are photo dome and screen printed.

The most common attachment for lighter lapel pins is the butterfly clutch. The back of the pin has a small prong attached and when the butterfly clutch is squeezed and pulled up from the prong the pin is released from the clutch. Butterfly clutches are usually made out of metal but theoretical can be also made out of plastic and rubber. Another quite common attachment is the stick pin (thin needle with a collar that slides up and down the needle to secure or release the pin) although you may also encounter a jewelery clutch or tie tacks which have usually an elegant and simple design although are very rare to find.

Additional markings of a pin might be stamped on its back. It may contain copyright information, edition or the country they were made in.


Unknown said...

Very nice collections!!!!!

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