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”)

myArmoury.com

myArmoury.com

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

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]

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    

Us Army Wwii Helmet Early Fixed Bale Rare Schlueter Lieutenant Painted Insignia Vintage Wwi Army Air Force 3" Sterling Pilots Wing Pin ~aOriginal Wwii German Officer's Wool Overcoat / Full Length / With Orig InsigniaWw2 Japanese Army Canteen Type 94 Soldier War Rare Vtg 1941 Japan Medal Pin JarBritish Wwii Original Insignia Nsf National Fire Service Helmet Bmb 1939 Uk Ww2Wwii U.s. Army Air Corps "l" Liaison Wing Pinback Pin 3'' Sterling SilverOriginal Ww2 Sterling Paratrooper Pin Back Qualification Badge With 2 Stars..Original Ww2 British Made 506th Pir Distinctive Insignia On Dark Wool Cap.......Original Wwii Raf Kc Buttons Rank Insignia - Battle Of Britain Pilot's EstateRare 1943 Ww2 Patches Badges Ranks Insignia Guide Army Usmc Navy Air Corps ForceTci Liberator Ii Headset 76327-01 Neckband Version W/ Two Pin Connection U94 PttRare German Prussian Order Of The Black Eagle Medal Badge & Star Award InsigniaGreat Japanese Made 736th Engineers Heavy Shop Company Shouler Sleeve InsigniaRare Ww2 Raaf Pin Back Pilot Wing Cloth Lead & Brass BadgeVintage U.s.military Wwii Era Sterling Instrutor 3 3/4" Wing Pin Nice No ReserveBritish P40 Battledress Blouse With Original Insignia For Wo In Xxx CorpsUsgi M1 Garand Round Firing Pin Wra Winchester 4 Inch Usaf The Fireball Squadron Tactical Fighter Squadron 522 Jacket InsigniaBritish Wwii Original Painted Insignia Helmet Warden Size 7 Bmb 1940 Uk Ww2 Rare German World War Ii Military Stick Pin, GcOriginal Wwii Canadian Felt & Bullion Insignia W/ Flags & Crown Nice QualityRare Wwi United States Navy Usn Chief Petty Officer Hat Device Insignia Pin NrLot Of Wwii Patches, Ribbon, Sewing Kit, And A PinBeautiful Silk Cbi Made 14th Airfoce Shoulder Sleeve InsigniaWw2 Era Usmc Marine Corps Officer's Dress Medal Lot, Ribbon Bars & Rank InsigniaWw1 Canadian Canada Cef Nfld Newfoundland Regiment Shoulder Titles Insignia21 Junk Drawer Lot Of Vintage Antique Military Patches Pins Badges Buttons Authentic Large Australian Instructional Corps Hat Badge With Removeable Pin Lalique Brass War Medal Ww1 With Original Pin VgcJapanese Medal Set ~ Rising Sun Sacred Treasure China Badge Ww2 Army Japan NavyWw2 Japanese Army Sergeant Collar Tabs Uniform Badge Patch Vtg Flag Shirt MedalOriginal Wwii Us Army Paratrooper Jump Wing Badge Pin Airborne Sterling *rare*Vintage United States Military Large Size Sterling Eagle With Shield Pin No ResU.s. Airborne Uniforms, Equipment , Insignia Ww2 - Americas Finest Ii G HowardOriginal German Ww 2 - Tinnie / InsigniaWw2 Japanese Air Association Pin Badge Army Navy Medal Japan Fighter Zero PlaneOriginal Ww2 Gold Caterpillar Club Pin From Irving ParachuteWw2 Paratrooper Pin Sterling Silver Jump Wings 1 1/2'wide Airborne Wwii Us ArmyEnfield No1 Mk Iii Front Hand Guard With Brass Pin (australian)Ww 2 U.s. Army Theater Made Silver Bullion "71st Div." Shoulder Insignia /patch Pin Di Unit Crest Us Army 180th Tank Bn Hr Newcomb Sterling Marked Pinback RareLot Military Pins Ribbons Medals Vintage 83rd Infantry Division Insignia Grouping To 1st Lt. In 330th Infantry RegimentWwii Pt Boat Badge Sterling Silver Pin BackWwi 26th Division Painted Brodie Helmet Yd Headquarters Insignia Hs398 StampedWwii Usmc Us Marine Corps Officer Collar Insignia Ega Gold Silver Meyer PinbackRare Wwii Vintage Pair Of Italian Officers Italia Collar Insignia PinsPin Di Unit Crest Us Army Rotc New Mexico A & M Indian Goodluck Sysmbol OriginalAntique Gar Grand Army Of The Republic Union Civil War Veterans Gold Enamel PinUs Wwii Lot Dog Tags Pins Medal Ribbons Buttons Military Sterling Must See NrJapanese Arisaka Type 99 Firing Pin Ww1 British Or Canadian Brodie Helmet With Painted InsigniaAustralia Ww1 Cigar Box Lot Of 20 Pins Buttons And Badges And Trench WhistleFuse M10a3 Ww Ii Era Lever Spoon Pin Inert Us W Vintage Dummy Pineapple GrenadeSmle No1 Mkiii Bolthead Assembly/cocking Piece & PinWw Ii Sterling Us Army Paratrooper Jump Wing Badge Pin Ww2 World War IiRare C1918 Patriotic Wwi "sterling" Silver Eagle Pin "v" For Victory Day EnamelWwii Trench Art Shell Casing Ashtray 1941 9" Airplane Marine Corp InsigniaWwii Officially Engraved Bronze Star In Box With Government Card & Lapel Pin Pin Di Unit Crest Us Army 63rdtank Bn Unmared Pinback Rare Theater Made Nice