The word "pins" is a catch-all used to describe military badges and insignia for various armed forces around the world. Because these badges and insignia are routinely pinned to a soldier's or officer's uniform, they are frequently referred to as pins. But insignia can also be found on patches, so the terms are sometimes used interchangeably.

In the United States, Civil War insignia and pins are of great interest to collectors. While Union pieces are relatively common, Confederate insignia are quite rare and correspondingly expensive. In both cases, cloth insignia are hard to come by, while brass pieces present a different problem. Since brass Civil War insignia have been widely reproduced for 20th-century reenactors, in many cases from the original dies, it can be difficult to tell originals from well-worn, used reproductions. For this reason, serious collectors look for recently “dug” items, because 150 years of corrosion is difficult to mimic.

Insignia showing rank is the most common type, but again, because rank insignia were made of fabrics such as worsted and wool, these pieces are tough to come by. Chevrons sewn to the arms of military jackets can be found in pairs (for corporals) and trios (for sergeants). For Union troops, yellow stripes designated calvary while blue meant infantry. Rank was also communicated via shoulder straps and insignia worn on an officer’s epaulettes.

Another popular place for Civil War insignia was on hats. A pair of crossed brass cannons meant the soldier was in an artillery unit, while crossed sabers meant he was in the calvary. Capital letters, also of stamped brass, designated the company while numbers stood for regiment.

During World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and wars in the Middle East, U.S. servicemen and women were given colorful decorations called ribbons, which were affixed to bars and worn in rows that are referred to as fruit salad. A student of ribbons can glance at a wearer’s fruit salad and tell you which branch of the military the person was in, what campaign they participated in, and all sorts of other details about their service to their country.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Comic Character Pinbacks

Comic Character Pinbacks

Mark Lansdown's excellent collection of over 800 pinbacks representing 200+ comic characters from 100+ strips. Beau… [read review or visit site]

myArmoury.com

myArmoury.com

This resource for historic arms and armour collectors provides exhaustive information on modern reproductions (cust… [read review or visit site]

The Civil War

The Civil War

Paul McWhorter’s amazing reference site tells the story of the Civil War through high resolution scans of Harpers… [read review or visit site]

Mikes Tanks

Mikes Tanks

Mike Seeber’s extensive collection of over 500 diecast tanks and military vehicles, dating back to WWII. Browse b… [read review or visit site]



Most watched eBay auctions    

Rare Italian M31 Helmet Early Production Black Anchor Insignia Coastal ArtilleryWw2 U.s. Insignia, Patches, Rank, Pins, & Ribbons Lot 230+ Pieces No Reserve Vg+Wwi Imperial German Model 1918 Helmet W/ Painted Freikorps InsigniaOriginal Wwi Us 3rd "marne" Division M1917 Helmet With Painted Insignia & LinerWwii Japanese Type 45 Visor Cap W/ Imperial Guard Insignia-originalOriginal German Ww2 (1930s) Deutsche Jungvolk Pin Badge - Enamelled - Shooting?Rare Civil War Era 13" Iron Cavalry Picket Pin With Ring - ExcWwi Us Army Helmet W/ Painted 1st Division “big Red One” Insignia-british Mark IDirty Billy's Us Civil War Union General Officer Dress Kepi Hat Cap W InsigniaWw Ii German Germany Military Soldier Portrait Brass Pin Unknown UseGreat Ww2 U S Marine Dog Tag-ribbon And Insignia Group-named MarineUsmc Officers Blue Dress Uniform With Insignia And Cap Complete With Cap DeviceGerman Ww2 Miniature Skull Pin Badge.Rare Estate Find Authentic Civil War Non-dug 10th Corps Hat Badge PinRare Ww1 Era 10th (colored)cavalry Trooper's Wool Tunic With 1oth Mg InsigniaFantastic Civil War Gar Honor 1st Pattern Medal Top Bar Pin Bronze.Original World War I? 1920’s? 30's? Us Air Mail Pilot Aviator Wing Hat PinVintage Lot Of Antique Military Ribbons. Pins, MedalsVintage Sterling Silver United States Army Air Corps Pilot Wings PinRare Estate Find Authentic Civil War Non-dug 2nd Corps Hat Badge PinWwi 35th "sante Fe" Division Insignia Painted Gas Mask Bag & Mask *unit Marked"Wwii U.s. Army Air Corps Bomb Pin With Mission Description. Kiel GermanyWwii U.s. Army Air Corps Bomb Pin With Mission Description. Trzebinia PolandAntique Wwi Bronze Usmc Ega Hat Visor Pin Badge Emblem Marine Corps Enlisted Ww1Wwii U.s. Army Air Corps Bomb Pin With Mission Description. Cologne Germany9-10k Gold Civil War Udc (daughters Of Confederacy) Maryland Enameled Badge PinGreat Ww1 U S Soldier's Tunic With 27th Inf Regt Insignia-bakalite ButtonsWw2 Canadian Dress Medal Set On Bar/pin - Good Shape And Backing - R. HolroydMint Condition 5 Inch Us Navy Vf-192 Flight Jacket Squadron Insignia813th Tank Destroyer Battalion Di Crest * Pin * Post Ww2 Occupation German WwllFrance Medal War Cross Croix De Guerre With Poilu Adrian Casque Enamel InsigniaWwii U.s. Army Air Corps Bomb Pin With Mission Description. Front Lines FranceRare Estate Find Authentic Civil War Non-dug 7th Corps Hat Badge PinOriginal Ww2 82nd Airborne Paratrooper Eisenhower Uniform Jacket W/ InsigniaOn Wool Felt 18th Infantry Division Ww! Noli Me Tangere Shoulder InsigniaCast Signed Sterling Silver Usa Air Force Aviation Wings Pin YqzMarine Corps Ww Ii Soldiers Medal Named Rodriguez Ribbon Bar Lapel Pin InfoWwii Italian Gil Fascist Youth Overseas Cap-original-w/ Badge & Rank InsigniaOriginal Ww2 Glider Assault Badge Us Paratrooper Service Pin BadgeCivil War Veterans Medal Grand Army Of Republic Collar Patriotic Pin BroachVintage Wwii Original Medals Dog Tags Personal Items Home-front Pins LotOrig Wwi Us Marine Corps Globe And Anchor Hat Insignia / Screw BackPin And Koikuchi Parts For Gunto Ww2 Japanese Imperial Army Officer SwordBeautiful Large Brass U S Army Engineers Insignia -2 3/4" AcrossBoxed Cased Ww2 Cib Sterling Rifle Pin Sterling (two Piece?) GemscoWwii U.s. Army Air Corps Bomb Pin With Mission Description. Fulda GermanyGar Civil War Verteran Ladder Pin John J Sines 78th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Co AIdentified Wwi Us 35th "sante Fe" Division Insignia Painted Helmet & Gas MaskGreat Large Antique U S Coast Artillery Corps Insignia On Card-3 1/2" Across65 Us Military Patches Insignia Wwii & Later Vietnam Korea Army Air Force Lot FVintage Hotzi Notzi Bassons Ceramic Adolf Hitler Pin Cushion W/ TagLot Of Vintage - Patches,ribbons Medals, Pins Buttons CollectibleWw Ii Medal Of Freedom Ribbon Bar Lapel Pin Box Of Issue 1944Antique World War Ii Era 1945 Kangol Ware Limited Wool Military Hat With PinsStunning 82nd Airborne No Way Jose Invasion Of Grenada Shoulder InsigniaConfederate Civil War Relic Brass Three Leaf Clover Hat Pin? Sc Camp Vintage Us Military Pins Lot Wwi Ww2 Vietnam Army Usn Usmc Sterling Rare Wwii Ford B-24 Liberator Bomber Plane Lapel Pin & Prop 1/20 10 K Gold !!!!Ww1 Ww2 Us Army Wittnauer Pocket Compass W/4 Sterling Military Pins300 Us Military Wwii & Later Patches Chevrons Uniform Rank Insignia Army Lot K