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    

Super 15th Af Id'd Group, Named Am & Dfc, Caterpillar Pin W/card, Winged BootUs Wwii M-1 Helmet Liner Early Inland Painted Insignia 88th Infantry Division Wwii Legion Of Merit Medal In Case With Insignia, Dog Tags, Mini Medal GroupMisc Group Of Mixed Cap, Collar,copy Medals, And Other Insignia.Usaaf Cbi 14th Air Force Flying Tigers Avg Service Coat--theater Made InsigniaAntique Vintage Blue Wool Us Navy Hat Badge Button Usn Pin Collection LotWwi Us Uniform To 3rd Air Park With Rare Collar Brass InsigniaWw2 Wwll Badge Metal Brooch Pin + Bonus Badge/metal (no Pin Back) Vietnamese Made Off Tunic 196th Light Infantry Brigade Shoulder Sleeve InsigniaOriginal Wwii Us Army Air Force Silver Caterpillar Club Pin Navigator Wings LotOriginal Us Pre Wwi / Wwi M1912 Picket Pin Pick Cover - Eagle Snap - Ria 1917A+ Wwii Us Army Sterling Airborne Jump Wing Badge Pin Paratrooper Original Elite Dutch Nsb Hat Or Sleeve Insignia German Rare Ww2 Patches Medals Badges Insignia Rank Book Usmc Army Air Force Navy UscgUs World War Ii Army First Special Service Force Officers Crossed Arrow InsigniaTea U-94 10-pin Maritime Mbitr Push To Talk Ptt Cable - Devgru Seal Nsw Sof Vietnam Made Full Color 199th Light Infantry Brigade Pocket-shoulder InsigniaMilitary Medals, Pins, And Ribbons Lot - Wwii, Korean War, Ect - No Reserve!!!!!Ww1 Us Army Son In Service Pennant, Wagoneer 1st Class Patch, Pershing PinVietnamese Made Jungle Expert-jungle Survival School Pocket Insignia A BeautyGreat Civil War Era Embroilered Crossed Sabers Hat InsigniaItalian Wwii Uniform Jacket Patch & Collar Insignia Brigata Nera Vicenza Rsi Ww2Wwii Ww2 Di Distinctive Insignia-604th Engineer Engineers Sterling BlackintonWwi Us Army 148th Field Artillery Side Cap With Pins And Photo - Named SoldierFarm Related Advertising Collection Minneapolis Moline Pin Pinback Victory Ww2 Ww2 Italy Fascist Mvsn Oms Spain War Black Shirt Xxiii Marzo Fiamme Nere PinAntique Spanish-american War Badge Medal Pin Co. G. 6th Ohio Vol. Inf.Ww 2 German Party Pin Military Trailer M101a2 Style Cargo 3/4 Cal Tags 12volt System With Pin HitchRare Ww2 Norway Norwegian Quisling Collaborators Cap Hat Kepi Badge InsigniaRare Wwli Japanese Manchukuo Manchurian Auspicious Clouds Medal 8th W/lapel PinWwii Tank Destroyer Patch Collar Insignia-n.s. Meyer Captain Rank-gemsco Pb Ww2Ww 2 German Pair Patch Elite Officer Collar Tabs Ww Ii Insignia KragenspiegelWwii Era Purple Heart Medal For Military Merit Case Bar Pin & 2 Oak Leaf ClusterWwii United States Navy Marines Sterling Silver H-h Air Crew Wings PinWw1 Ww2 Military Medal Ribbon Pin Lot Usmc Army Usgi Award Watch Vietnam BomberWw2 Higgins Boat Employee Sterling Service Pin - Screwback - Pt BoatWwii Ww2 Di Distinctive Insignia-9th Army Air Force Corps Aaf Sterling PinbackTheater Made Cib (pin Back) Combat Infantryman BadgeVintage 10k Solid Yellow Gold Us Navy Pilot Wings PinWw2 German Shoulder Boards Insignia Patch Uniform Tunic Military Officer BadgeAustrian Hungary German Wwi Uniform Hat Pin Tinnie Badge Medal Insignia # 4Original Lot Of 55 Wwii Us Army Air Corps Enlisted Screwback Wing Prop Insignia 23 Different Military Wing PinsPre Ww1 Atlantic Battleship Fleet Manila Pi 1908 Badge Pin Crispulo Zamora UsnWw2 Wwii Era German Mountain Gebirgsjager Steirischer Jagdschutzverein PinWw1 German Army Iron Cross With Pin Hallmark WbBritish Raf Long Service And Good Conduct Medal Named Pin Mounted Vietnam Era Usaf Sac Fatigue Hat Insignia 320th Bomb Group Iron Dukes Wwi Us Air Corps Air Force Son In Service Pilot Wing PinWwii Ww2 Di Distinctive Insignia-353rd Infantry Regiment 89th Div Open Catch PbkWwii Lot Of Military Army Air Force Marines Patches Badges Insignia Trench ArtLarge Collection Of Military Items Estate Clearance Badges Buttons Insignia Etc.Canada Ww2 Volunteer Active Service Canteen Worker Birks Sterling Badge PinVintage Us Navy Wwii Felt Pin Pennant Charm Button Ny Worlds Fair Political Us Army 112th Cavalry Regiment Beercan Dui Cb Di Pin Unit Crest 149bRussian Soviet Cccp Large Job Lot Military / Communist Badges, Pins, Patches EtcVintage Ww2 Ford B24 Bomber Pin Willow Run Plant BadgeWwii U.s. Women's Army Corps Wac Waac Sterling Silver Insignia Victory Ring Ww Ii Us Army Air Corps Bombardier Wings Sterling Silver 925 Pin