At a previous meeting PDG Gene English mentioned his Pin Collection and it got the attention of a few of our members. So he offered to come back and do a special program to tell us all about it. It was amazing to hear him speak of his collection and the passion he has for collecting these pins was quite evident!
PDG Gene attended his first International Convention of Lions Clubs in 1982 at Atlanta. At that time his club had sent him with a pin to trade and he traded that many times and ended up coming home with a pin from India. The second time he had a small collection of 25 pins of his own and a fellow Lion who could not attend sent 25 of his and asked Gene to trade those as well. After that he says he was hooked!
In the early days these pins were traded as a way of starting conversations and friendships. Most of them were made of plastic and some were even paper. As time went on some people began to collect these so they had a complete set. And some of those early pins (as with any collectibles) became quite valuable. At times these have been valued at over $1,000 each!
These days every State has a new pin made each year and Gene has almost all of them. North Carolina creates two versions: a regular pin and a prestige pin. When they are first offered they typically cost $2 or $3 each and they are freely traded at many Lions Clubs conventions. In fact, there are also some Pin Traders Clubs that you can join as well.
Over the years there have been Themes for the pins such as: Battleships (about 145 designs), Civil War (1600), Automotive and Land Transportation (1400), Birds (788), Water World. The current theme is Circus and Carnival. The next theme planned is Farm and Garden. And, if you are wondering how to find out about all of the pins in existence there are Catalogs for that!
Gene currently has about 35,000 pins in his collection which is nearly complete! That’s probably how he got in the Hall Of Fame!