They say that what you wear reflects who you are. Most of the time, custom pins, also more commonly known as lapel pins, are worn for clothing, fashion, or design purposes. However, it has a deeper cultural and societal value than that.
The use of custom pins started during the American Civil War as marks for people. They were used to distinguish the kind of task assigned to the person. Whether the individual was a medic, a nurse, an assistant, a soldier, a high-ranking officer, or just an ordinary citizen, there were markers used to help others identify what category they fell into.
But as time passed, the use of lapel pins changed. In World War I, custom pins were given to chosen people, instead of giving it to everyone. Lapel pins were given only to people who did something groundbreaking such as saving a life, leading a troupe, winning a battle, and discovering something new. Pins were used to award and recognize people for any exemplary action they have done for others. Well, up until now, pins are still used to award people and recognize their hard work. For example, pins are given to boy scouts and girl scouts whenever they finish a task for other people. Pins are also given to honor students who have performed well in school. Pins are also given to politicians who helped in community development. Lapel pins are used to show others that a particular person should be applauded for something.
Of course, given that there has been high value placed on lapel pins, people have also started to collect them over time. Some families keep them as heirlooms, believing that a certain pin has brought luck to their family for years. Some people however keep pins because their ancestors might have worked really hard for it, or worse, risked their lives in the process of being deserving to receive one.
From pin collection, the industry has soon grown into trading. People started to trade their pins for better ones. Some even sell theirs for quite a generous price. Once a collector sees a pin that he wants in his collection, he tries to bargain with the other collector for a trade. If the haggle works well for both of them, then pin trading happens. Usually, the rarer the pin, the more collectors want to get a hold of it.
Over time, lapel pins returned to their original use, classifying people. Companies and businesses started to use custom pins to help identify their employees. Some even use pins for identification purposes, as nametags. Pins have also been used in organizations like sororities, fraternities, and even clubs. They serve as tokens to remind the people that they are members of a certain group and that their loyalty is expected from them. Lapel pins have been used to help other people distinguish where a person belongs to. Pins are also used as a part of school or work uniform sometimes, again, to add to the identification.
The use of pins broadened and developed more, later on. It has been used for supporting a cause. Lapel pins were worn to show that people are against breast cancer, against war, pro children, pro animals, and many more. Moreover, wearing pins has also been a way of supporting political personalities or political parties. In America, the lapel pin you wear during campaign and election period says a lot about who you are supporting. The pin you are wearing, or if you are not wearing a pin, gives out your stand on politics.
Who would have known that even small pins can show your say about the world? Therefore, even the smallest, most minute things can also be of great value.