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Pin Stories

Collecting Varieties

by Harry Fulwiler, III (PTCV)

"Variety is the soul of pleasure" So spoke 17th Century Arthur Aphra Behn. I certainly can agree with that thought when it comes to pin trading and collecting. There are many of us in the pin trading community who have been re-invigorated in this hobby by searching for, identifying, and collecting pin varieties. One of my good friends, Joe Trezza, of California was an early pioneer in identifying and collecting pin varieties. He cataloged many of his finds in his book, "State Pin Color Pictorial Guide". His book was the first attempt at documenting some of the many varieties of State pins. When his book was issued we had many purists complaining that the book contained all kinds of junk. Now many of those same people try to collect every variety type they can find. I for one really enjoy the thrill of finding a new variety. There are many different varieties and we will discuss some of them here.

Probably the most common variety is two pins of the same manufacture having different color shades. This can be caused by a thicker or thinner coat of paint or by a batch of paint being mixed differently. Examples of this type variety are numerous: Quite a few of the pins in the Alaska animal series have different shades as do many of the 1980 and 1984 Wisconsin pins. Some pins are all together different in color from other pins of the same date and state. An example of this is that some of the 1990 Maine pins are a dark gray while the regular issue is light green. Some of the lighter colored pins when put in certain weather conditions will fade causing them to appear to be a variety of this type. Care must be taken not to classify a faded pin in that category.

Occasionally the initial order of a pin is not sufficient to meet demand and it is reordered. This often results in varieties. For example look at the 1994 Maryland and the 1994 Washington D.C. pins. The original order of these two pins was not sufficient to meet the demand. When the reorder was placed with the same company the price was raised considerably. The order was then switched to a new manufacturer who made a somewhat different pin. A reorder of the 1981 Tennessee Cat has a small star to the left of the word Phoenix. There also exist examples of a pin having a plain back and a waffle back. I believe that most of these are pins that were reordered. Most of the early Arizona Kachinas have plain and waffle backs and some are numbered on the back. Other examples include the 85 Georgia and the 88 Minnesota.

There are also numerous examples of varieties that are purposely created. Examples are the dated and undated Oklahoma pins and the 1994 MD 4 pins. Most of these are cataloged.

Many varieties are caused by errors on the part of the pin makers. Examples are:

  1. Pins that have not been completely painted. (I have found several pins in sealed wrappers that were not painted including a 1986 N.C. and a 1989 Mississippi)
  2. Pins that have been painted a different color. (1974 Connecticut, 1986 Alaska, 1982 Oregon, 1990 Maine)
  3. Pins where some of the blanks were silver and some gold colored. (1970 Virginia, 1962 & 63 Indiana, 1986 Illinois, 1981 Kentucky)
  4. Silver emblem and gold emblem as well as the size of the emblem. (Very common and can be found on many pins with glued on emblems very prevalent on Michigan pins)
  5. Picture inverted. (1988 Colorado, 1996 {Corrected date; it was 1986}New Jersey)
  6. Different metals used for the same pin. (1972 MD 4, 1974 & 1977 Mississippi, 1984 SC train)
  7. Different size lettering. (1985 South Dakota)
  8. Location of the Lions emblem on the pin. (1996 West Virginia)
  9. Misspelled words. (1974 Texas, 1992 Saskatchewan, 1984 Georgia, 1986P Massachusetts)
  10. Wrong dates. (1993 Connecticut, 1996P Wisconsin, 1971V Indiana)

These are just a very few of the numerous varieties that have already been discovered. I'm sure there are still numerous varieties out there waiting to be found. One of the recently discovered varieties that has been around since 1996 but was just "discovered" recently is the 1996P West Virginia. That pin has one variety with the stamped Lions club pin to the left of the tree the other variety has the stamped Lions club pin in the center of the tree. Kurt Bentsen, PTCNY&B, discovered this variation when comparing several of these pins. Another recently made discovery was a light blue and a dark blue 1991 Utah pin. Credit for that discovery goes to Tom Banyard (CLPTC) and Don Gordon (MD 19 PTC). Yours truly recently discovered the 1990 Maine gray variation. Both of these finds took place at the 2003 Western States Pin Swap. Since then, both of these new varieties were found on trader sheets at the Virginia Pin Swap. Quite often new examples are discovered when comparing similar pins side by side at pin trading tables. The point is that there are many still available. The list of varieties is endless. There are different sizes of pins; tie clasps made from pins; jewelry such as many of the New Hampshire pins; bolos and many others. There are many items that most pin traders are not aware of unless they stay cognizant of the varieties. For instance most of you know that Oklahoma usually puts out a bolo tie of their state pin. Were you aware that West Virginia put out a Bolo of their 1998 state pin? If you collected varieties that would be one of the items you would want.

The list of pin traders who are looking for variations is growing daily. Some of the company I keep in looking for varieties is Joe Trezza and (CLPTC), Don Gordon (MD 19 PTC), Jim DeRouchey (TLPTC), Bill Sour (CLPTC), Bill Prucha (PTCI), Elwyn Beane & Boyd Engbloom (LPTCW), Jim Scheibel & Kurt (PTCNY&B), Jim Minnich (MD 22 PTC), Pete Kowalick (PTCNJ), Bill Smith & Verle Malik (PTCV). This list is far from inclusive but it does show that there are some serious pin traders that are into variety collecting.

To me this is an exciting arena that still has many undiscovered pins looking for a home. Word spreads pretty quickly when a new variety is discovered. As mentioned earlier Joe's book is a great place to see many of the varieties. Verle Malik (PTCV) has a varieties section in his catalog which shows numerous varieties. This catalog is a must for serious variety collectors. Any of the Lions mentioned above can give the novice help in getting started in variety collecting, and can certainly answer questions concerning these pins. Some of these pins are very valuable and certainly add prestige to your collection. In recent auctions at several of the pin swaps, some of the highest prices have been given for varieties.

All of us have favorite varieties. Some, such as the 1986 Alaska; the 1974 Arkansas; the 1988 Colorado; the 1974 Connecticut, and the 1982 Oregon are listed in Joe's catalog. Others such as those shown below are still relatively easy to find.

OR Reg Issue 1982 OR 1982 Variation
1982 Oregon Green Border
1982 Oregon Creme Border
SD1985 Reg Issue
SD 1985 Variation
1985 South Dakota Large Lettering
1985 South Dakota Small Lettering
IN 1963 Pin
1963 Indiana Dark Blue
1963 Indiana Light Blue
CO 1988 Reg Pin
CO 1988 Inverted
1988 Colorado Regular
1988 Colorado Inverted
MD 4 1972 Reg
MD 4 1972 Variation
MD 4 1972 Regular
MD 4 1972 Variation
WV Reg Issue 1996
WV 1996 Variation
1996 West Virginia (Emblem Location)
ME Reg Issue 1990
ME 1990 Variation
Maine 1990 Gray
1990 Maine Green

Date:February 13, 2012
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