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]

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]

Most watched eBay auctions    

British Ww1 'painted' Brodie Helmet - Yellow Bar InsigniaScarce Civil War Era Naval Officer's Hat With Anchor Side Insignia And PlumeVtg 40's Ww2 1944 U.s. Army Military Wool Field Jacket W/ Patches & Pins 36 RUncommon! Named Ww1 Us Navy Officers Uniform W/ Bullion InsigniaWwii Royal Australian Air Force Slouch Hat-guaranted Original-w/insignia & FlashRare Vietnam War "kissing- Dueling Skulls" Special Forces Dui Di Crest Pin1939-45 Wwii Miniature Medal X 15 + Pins + RibbonsRare U S Navy 1/20 10kt Gf Sterling Submarine Medical Surgeon Officers PinWwii Japanese Military Navy Lot - Insignia, Patches, MoreRare Civil War Era U S Marked Iron Cavalry Picket Pin With RingWwii Usn Submarine Officers Mess Dress Badge Pin Us Navy 10k + Sterling MeyerPin, German Wwii. Wwii Cbi Patch And Pins*china Burma India*Ww2 Usn Sterling And Makers Marked Pin Collection From EstateWwii U.s. Army Paratrooper Badge Or Jump Wings - Sterling Pin Back - N.s. MeyerRare 1943 Ww2 Patches Badges Ranks Insignia Guide Army Usmc Navy Air Corps ForceOriginal Wwii Manhattan Project Atomic Bomb Workers Pin / Whitehead & Hoag1813 1914 Iron Cross Medal W Ribbon + Pin War Vtg German Estate Found Original German Wwii Rad Shirt Patch Insignia Cut Out Ww2 BringbackVintage Military Insignia Lot German Ww2 Wwii Ww1 Fire Civil Cockade Luftwaffe++Wwii Us Army Sterling Airborne Jump Wing Badge Pin Paratrooper Wwii Navy Chief Petty Officer Foul Anchor Emblem Silver Pin/hat Badge Device Vg!Origninal Ww2 Sterling Submarine Badge Pins Dolphins/rare Wwii Air Force 119th Observation Squadron Enamel Dui Di Pin MeyerWwii Ww2 German Insignia Patch Rank Lot50th Anniversary Royal Newfoundland Regiment Lapel Pin 1914-1964Vintage Antique Jewelers Wood Display Case Cabinet 6 Drawer Pins Medals BadgesRare Wwii U.s. Wadc Women's Auxiliary Defense Corps Ambulance Driver Set 4 PinsRare Ww1 Or Earlier German Prussia Order Of Red Eagle Medal Award InsigniaManhattan Project Oak Ridge A Bomb Bronze Pin & Army Navy Sterling AwardLarge Estate Lot Antique Buttons Uniform Pins Buttons Numbers Military ?M98 Krag Cavalry Bayonet W/picket-pin Leather Scabbard & Saddle Ring 14 K Gold World War I Us Army Nurse Corps Medical Bb&b InsigniaWwii Sterling Silver Command Pilot Wings Pin Badge Wreath Star Vintage Not ScrapRare Original Usgi M1 Garand Type 1 Round Firing PinWwii Us Army Air Corp Ike Jacket Size 38 / Saco Uniforms Philadelphia /patch,pinCollectors Guide To Storm Troopers Insignia By James David Fuller Ist Ed M641343rd Infantry Not Cataloged No Hallmark Painted Pin Back CrestWwi Pistol Expert Badge & PinWwii Japanese Army Helmet With Insignia, Liner And Chintie, Clean Moderato1967 Dated M65 Field Jacket Od With Airforce Insignia Usaf Vietnam OriginalWwii British Army Officers 1941 Mkiii Compass, Pips, Silver Ta Pin Major CatlingWwii Us Army 10k Gold Tank Pin Badge Insignia Food Machinery Corp. Water BuffaloRare Philippine Constabulary M1905 Collar InsigniaNice Old Us Army World War I Gas Mask And Bag Case With 89th Division InsigniaWwii-vietnam War Medals Ribbons Pins UsWwii Named U.s. Air Medal With Ribbon Bar, Pin And Original BoxHuge Mixed Box Lot Of U.s. Military Pins!! Hundreds Of Pieces! Lot#05Wwii U.s. Id'd Bronze Star,ribbon Bar & Pin-served As Tec In 4 U.s. Army WwiiLarge Wwii Original Pin Pinback Pilot Wings Us Army Air Corp SterlingWwii Usn Submariner Officer 2 3/4" Clutch Back Pin Sterling Dolphins Wings H&hArmy Navy E Production Award Cleveland 1944 Original Program, PinWw Ii Front Seam M1 Steel Helmet W/ Armored Lieutenant Insignia Tank Us Army 2Wwii U.s. Id'd Bronze Star, Bar, Pin With Oak Leaf In Original Box-served 3 WarsU.s. Military Purple Heart Medal, Lapel Pin, And Original Box World War 2?347th Infantry Asmic # 347-a 1 Jostens Hallmark Pin Back CrestHuge Mixed Box Lot Of U.s. Military Pins!! Hundreds Of Pieces! Lot#07Bronze Star Medal Named Bincent, Lapel Pin, Case, Shipping Box, War Dept. CardAntique 6th Cavalry Original Hat Pin Ca 1870's-1910 Indian Wars Spanish-americanSpanish American War Saw 5th Infantry Regiment A Company Officer Insignia Set