It seems like just about everyone collects something. Whether it’s baseball trading pins, fountain pens, even old appliances, there’s something out there for every collector. Many people find collecting patches to be fun, and enjoyable to trade and share.
It’s easy to see why. Custom embroidered patches are colorful, often with beautiful artwork. They serve as emblems of police and fire departments, Scouts, military units and many more organizations. That’s part of what makes patch collecting so popular.
Police and fire departments typically design their own patches, or even patches for different units within the departments. Military units have their individual patch designs as well. With the vast number of such organizations, there are many thousands of unique patches to collect. One patch collector in Arizona states on his website that he has more than 67,000 patches!
A lot of people start collecting patches young. Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts often start trading patches during their active involvement in the organizations. Many collect patches representing local or regional Scout gatherings, and others collect from national and even international chapters. Quite often, those who start collecting patches as children continue the hobby into adulthood.
Military patches carry special meaning for those who serve. Many service members, both active duty and former, collect unit patches related to their own service or that of loved ones and friends. Each patch carries sentimental meaning unique to the individual.
Some collectors “space out” with custom patches from the U.S. space program The first space mission patch was created by astronauts Pete Conrad and Gordon Cooper for their 1965 flight aboard Gemini V. Many others have followed.
Worth noting: In the early years, space mission patches were made of standard embroidered patch materials. Following the Apollo 1 tragedy of 1967 that killed astronauts Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Roger Chaffee and Ed White, all patches flown aboard NASA missions have been made of a special fireproof cloth.
It’s not hard to find patches and patch collectors. Scouting events, county fairs, flea markets, swap meets and other events are all fertile ground for locating patches to collect and trade.
Online groups also offer a rich selection of patches, both for sale and trade. Enthusiast groups for patch collectors are a great resource.
Antique stores are another good option. The real secret, however, is to simply keep your eyes open. You can find great patches just about anywhere, sometimes in places you don’t expect. True collectors always are on the lookout for patches wherever they go!
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