Friday, October 15, 2010

Tomorrow's Vintage Collectibles: Disney Pins and official Disney Pin Trading

This month marks the official 10th anniversary of Disney Pin Trading, a hobby that began in October 1999 at Walt Disney World and is now available at every Disney theme park and resort.  Basically, collectors buy or trade Disney-produced pins that feature Disney characters, attractions, and other fun images. I happened to stumble into the world of Disney pins in 2004. I warn you: this hobby can become addicting really fast as there over 10,000 different pins out there to date.  After realizing this I decided to limit my collecting to only those times when I am actually at Disneyland (a rarity, thank goodness), because I mainly want to acquire Cast Lanyard / Hidden Mickey pins.

To start, read the Q-and-A on the official Disney pin trading site that will give you a general explanation of pin trading, and if you're heading to one of the theme parks, be sure to read the official pin trading etiquette guidelines as well.  I wear a lanyard when I go to the park; here is my 50th Anniversary lanyard with a few of my pins attached:

Disney Pin Trading pins come in three main types:  open edition, limited edition, and Cast Lanyard Series / Hidden Mickey.  Open edition means that millions will be made, and limited edition is self-explanatory.  Sometimes the pins are made in very small quantities, such as editions of 100 or 300.  Pins are gold-backed with a "mouse ears" pin closure and a "Disney Pin Trading" logo:

This is called a "spinner," as the teacups and the base spin independently.
Note that it was made in a limited edition of 1,000.
"Cast Lanyard" or "Hidden Mickey" pins are those pins that can only be obtained through trade with a Disney employee with a lanyard or hip belt of Disney pins.  They were called "Cast Lanyard" pins prior to 2007, and are now called "Hidden Mickey" pins because they have a silver mouse ears icon on the front of the pin making them easy to indentify: 

The silver Mickey icon can be found on each pin

Sometimes obtaining pins is simply a matter of serendipity(!), or being in the right place at the right time. I happened to be standing in the Tower of Terror line with a friend and we were handed the two pins pictured below by a cast member; the Tower pin is a Cast Lanyard pin:

I showed you a Disney lapel pin on July 4th this year. Although it is not an official Disney Pin trading pin, it is still special. I happened to visit a nearby Disney Store on September 11, 2002, the first anniversary of 9/11, and these were handed out at the door:

A source that you might find helpful should you want to start a collection is Tomart's Disneyana Guide To Pin Trading:

Tomart's is the official guide and it includes pictures of many, many of pins, including limited editions and some of the Cast Member Lanyard pins that have been available through 1999-2005 to help guide your collecting.  You'll also want to poke around online to find tips and tricks from other collectors.  Of course, I've got a few tips to share!
  1. You may have noticed a certain theme in my Tomorrow's Vintage Collectibles series.  By now, you should know to seek out limited edition items over mass produced items.  This is also true for Disney pins.   The fewer produced the better.
  2. If there is a Disney factory outlet store nearby be sure to purchase pins there for the lowest prices.  Many times you will be able to find limited edition pins that were produced in larger quantities (e.g., 2500) or pins that were produced solely for the holidays to add to your collection.
  3. On a related note, buy pins before you leave for a Disney park at the Disney factory outlet store to trade in the park.  Better yet, purchase the Disney lapel pins that aren't meant for pin trading to trade with Cast Members only.  I found that cast members will not refuse a trade with you even for the cheapest and most boring pin as long as the pin is metal and does not have a "clasp" or "brooch" style back,  and this is a money-saving method to acquire the coveted Cast Member Lanyard pins. 
  4. Pin trade early in the day.  Cast Member Lanyard / Hidden Mickey pins go fast.
Finally, here is one of my latest acquisitions.  It is limited to an edition of 1,000 and I had to have it, because anyone who lives in Southern California knows exactly what the phrase "June Gloom" means:

As it's been quite awhile since the last Tomorrow's Vintage Collectibles post, I hope that you found this one entertaining and informative.  Questions and comments are very welcome!

Tenth anniversary pin image courtesy of

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