Throughout history mankind has been obsessed with amassing vast quantities of items of a similar nature purely for the sake of that similarity.    Keating (our former Aussie Prime Minister) collected antique French clocks, Imelda Marcos amassed shoes, and Elizabeth Taylor collected spouses, whilst Dahmer collected the human skulls of his victims.  The compulsion to collect took me with an urge perhaps less glamorous than Keating’s, and less entertaining that Taylors but somewhat less socially inhibiting than Dahmer’s.  I am a collector of Lions Club Pins, and proudly show the classic symptoms of a person with that particular compulsive disorder: I carry on long and one-sided conversations with my children about the merits of certain Pins; I trade these bits of tin and enamel as feverishly as Rivkin (Aussie Stockbroker) ever traded stocks and bonds; and I even write articles on the art of Pin Collecting in the hope of creating a cult like following.


At the time I became involved, Pin Collecting or Pin Trading was relatively new to Australia.  Unlike you dear reader, I did not have the advantage of advice from those who’d been infected with the bug before I.   I had a hundred pins and I decided to start accumulating them all.  A laudable objective, but somewhat overly ambitious.

There are over 44000 Lions clubs in the world. Even if only half of them had pins; I would end up with 22000 pins, or a collection in weight of approximately half a ton.  Further, there are the Multiple Districts, the Regions, the Districts and States that put out pins. Special pins were handed out at conventions or for special events and some fickle clubs insisted upon changing their pins on a yearly basis.  Some clubs had sets of pins, of different sizes.  Clearly collecting them all in one place may have interfered with the magnetic balance of the Earth.

Pins also cost an average of A$4.00 and assuming you swap one for one a collection of a thousand would cost you A$4000. Note that I used the words “would cost you” rather than “would be worth”.  Unfortunately most of the world has not realised the intrinsic value of pins – Philistines!

Wishing neither to bring on the next Ice Age nor sell the house, my only alternative was to curb my goal and concentrate on a limited area.

A new source for Lions pins has been Ebay – the international version or – with pins regularly being advertised usually by Americans.  Postage to be paid is a problem and so is payment.  The latter can be overcome with payment through Paypal.

A COLLECTORS ALTERNATIVES.  Listed below are suggestions for concentrating your collections and thus saving your homes and marriages…..

Australian Pins – Multiple and Districts only.  These may number a maximum 20 in a single year.  Some districts may put out a pin once every two years or when their supplies are sold out.  Collecting all these pins is within the financial reach of many collectors.

Australian Club Pins - These may number say a two thousand, as most Clubs have not issued a pin.  Club Pins are also not issued yearly and a club would hold onto the same design on their pin for say five to ten years.  A collection should number approximately five to six hundred. Restriction can be made to Club pins by State and this will be approx. 500 pins in total.

Multiple District Pins of One or Some countries - Non-USA Multiple Districts commenced/copied the practice if issuing a pin once every year from around the nineteen sixties.  Collectors can collect these pins - one per year - and they can also be exhibited in a frame with ease.  Of course, if you commence now, you have the task of going back and collecting the first say 70 pins to have a complete set.  This is not a difficult as it seems, as Collectors have extra pins that would swap.  Lions can collect the pins of their country of origin - New Zealand, United Kingdom, Italy, Finland, Norway, France, Belgium, Holland, Indonesia, India, Chile, Peru, Brazil, Argentina, South Africa, Canada, Russia, Estonia, Slovakia or just the country that they have all accepted as home - AUSTRALIA. 

Convention Pins - Pins issued at conventions only and these can include International and Foreign conventions.  Again not too many and a hundred or two would be a reasonable collection.

Pins from around the world. - A pin or pins from each country where Lions International are active.  These may be a little more difficult to obtain unless a visit is made to the International Convention each year.  There are 200 approx.  Countries were Lionism is active but again not all countries have pins and a collection of say a hundred and fifty would be an achievement.

MD sets - Most of the more affluent countries issue a MD pin every year and it is possible to strive to collect all pins issued by one or more MDs.  This would mean, searching for old pins etc. to complete your collections.  I understand that some of the American Lions specialise on districts.

Pins issued for the International Convention. - Lions International issues a pin for every convention and has been doing this for the past 30 years.  These pins can be purchased at the time of the convention and cost say $ 5.00 each. The pins were of a standard size till a few years back, and some of the past years (not all) could still be purchased from the HQ of Lions International.   It will be a small collection but a collection that could be easily exhibited in a person's office or den.

Some American collectors concentrate on accumulating only those pins issued for the International Convention by the American States.  In other words their collections are restricted to 50 pins per year (but USA State now issue two or maybe three pins per state and call them Prestige, Regular and Mini  - one for each state of the USA.

Themes - Collect pins from whatever country or club of a particular theme.  I have a Rev-head friend who concentrates on Motor Cars. Then there's animals, birds, fruits, people, etc.  A theme can have a few hundred but it may be difficult to achieve a reasonable collection within a short time.  A beginner could concentrate on two or three themes and drop them to one when he has a reasonable collection of his pet theme.

Pin Collecting, as you can see from the above has hidden complexities. Even the most dedicated collector gets faced with the dilemma of some collection restriction at some time of his life.   If you do not restrict yourself, exhibiting your collection itself would be a dilemma in itself.  Carting it around another.

I believe that a pin collector should -

  • Decide on his investment. If you intend collecting say a hundred pins it will cost you a good $300 to $ 400.The Collector will first need to make an investment in pins be it his club or MD. Once he has purchased swap stock he can approach collectors for a one to one swap. Forget pin collecting if you do not want to invest any money. Also remember, pins have no value and once a Lion has ventured into the land beyond, his beneficiaries will be fortunate to obtain 25% of the original value of the pins.
  • Concentrate on an area to collect and stick to it.If you get any pins that do not fall into your category, you have some swap stock.
  • Be aware of what you are offering as a trade. In a swap it's one for one but do not expect a pin that would have cost ten for one which you picked up for a dollar. Some American pins are very elaborate and therefore expensive. Quantity, colours and type determine manufacture costs.

The Future of Pin Trading in Australia.

  • Issuers of new pins would, I expect, approach the Australian Lions Pin Trading Club for guidance in design and manufacture and it would gain in stature in the future.  Pins could be a source of additional revenue to Lions if handled property.  A pin should be worth the money paid for it and be attractive enough for a Lion to wear with pride or offer as a swap.  Encouragement of members to wear their club pins would see more pins purchased and swapped.

A couple of tips if you intend procuring a club pin.-

  • Design it well, preferably by a commercial artist. The number of colours influence price. Artists combine colours and a $ 100 charge will be well worth the production of a well presented pin.
  • Pins should be around 2 inches by 2 inches. Always see the pin at actual size. Miniaturizing may result in what can be easily read on an A4 size sheet being undistinguishable/unreadable when the pin is produced.
  • Most pins are now produced in China for reasons of cost but recently Australian producers have been able to match price due to shipping etc. Ensure that Australian Suppliers, simply do not take your order, add something for their trouble, and have the pins produced in China or Taiwan. A little bit of effort would enable you to approach the manufacturer direct and save yourself a tidy sum.
  • Quantity, colour and type of pin determine price. A reasonable two inch by two inch pin could be obtained for say A$2.50 if an order is placed for 300.Larger quantities would result in sizable reductions. A club should always try to order say 300, simultaneously selling say 100 to Pin Traders. In so doing they may be able to obtain pins at very competitive rates whilst collectors would have swap stocks also at very reasonable amounts.
  • I believe that pins will gain popularity as time progresses.  More and more clubs will put out their own pins as they do banerrettes and swapping amongst lions will increase. Pins will also be better designed and more elaborate with modern technology playing a major role in manufacturing.  Clubs will use pins as revenue earners and simultaneously market Lionism.  Special events that have Lion Club participation will have special pins issued to be sold or given to the public. For example, special pins may be issued by each club competing in the Miss Personality contest or the sponsor could issue pins to all clubs participating in the Youth of the Year Contest as an advertising gimmick.

Organisers of Conventions too should follow the above rule.  Pins produced at recent convention have cost Lions an average of $4.00 to $5.00. Some pins have been mediocre and almost impossible to swap. If a good pin is produced at a reasonable price, Lions would purchase in quantity for swapping and the convention coffers would benefit.

Mediocre pins at exorbitant rates will just kill the desire of Aussie Lions to collect Aussie pins - they will then concentrate on American or Japanese pins, which are of good quality.


To assist pin trading catalogues have been put out by the Australian Lions Pin Trading Club/Lions International Pin Trading Club.

In closing, I wish each new collector the very best of good luck. I have learned that at the true value of a collection is in its worth to the collector personally and in the satisfaction it brings him/her to collect.  Remember, that in Pin Collecting, as with other things in life, size isn’t everything.

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