2015-06-26 10:44:21

Pinbacks, pinback buttons or in the UK, badges, are celluloid or, since the 1920s, lithographed covered pins that are fastened to clothing or other items using a safety pin. They can contain a range of depictions or slogans and are sometimes political or humorous in nature.

Old or rare pinbacks are highly collectible and can change hands for significant sums.


The US patent for pinbacks was issued in 1896 to George B Adams, the assignor for the Whitehead & Hoag advertising company of New Jersey.

The first pinbacks were produced by gum and cigarette companies. They were placed in packets in an effort to increase sales.

One of the first pins produced was that of RF Outcault’s The Yellow Kid character in 1896. These are among the most collectible pinbacks.

The practice took hold from 1910 onwards, with many comic artists contributing ideas, including Rube Goldberg and Ham Fisher.

Many pinbacks were produced for the political campaigns of the 1920s and 1930s. Political pins from prior to this period are rarely seen and are highly collectible.

Since the 1930s pinbacks have emerged across a range of genres, perhaps most notably featuring pop stars and on birthday cards.

Notable sales

Two identical Hard Rock Café pins in the shape of a guitar made $500 at a recent auction.

A pinback from the Atlanta International Pop Festival from 1970 achieved $300 at auction.

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