November 6, 2018

​#PinGameStrong: The History of Enamel Pins and the Current Craze

Submitted by Kelly Glass

One of the biggest trends right now among Millennials and people in their mid-30s hearkens back to ancient Egypt and battling soldiers: enamel pins. It’s not unusual these days to find a social media picture of a pin, with the hashtag #pingamestrong. On Instagram alone, there are more than 510,000 posts. Essentially, if you haven’t yet tapped the enamel pin market, you’re missing out.

But how did the enamel pin itself come to be? It starts about 3,800 years ago, in 1800 BC.

No, they didn’t pioneer the invention of lapel and enamel pins. But the ancient Egyptians did develop part of the process that led to the unique way enamel pins look today. The common practice among artisans in 1800 BC Egypt was to create decorative filigree artworks by soldering small pieces of wire together — the separation between colors on modern day pins.

About 600 years later, the Greeks took over the process and began to fill the empty spaces in the filigree with powdered glass. The fired the artwork and, voila, created enamel inlay.

Fast forward to between 1271 and 1368 AD, during the Yuan Dynasty in China. The Chinese furthered the art of enameling and used the process to create decorative items, vases and jewelry; including the first enamel lapel pin. Enamelware really took off in China during the Ming Dynasty, which lasted from 1368 to 1644.

Stateside, lapel and enamel pins took on a life of their own during the Civil War, when soldiers would wear pins emblazoned with their unit number so the troops could stay organized and everyone would be recognizable. Veterans continued to wear the pins after the war ended, to show patriotism and togetherness with other veterans. Since then, the tradition of pins had largely stayed in the military and political spheres. Until a few years ago, that is.

In 2014, the pin revival took off. Independent artists began creating their own unique pins, just for fun. The hobby combined with social media (Instagram in particular) brought modern pins to the forefront. People began to snatch them up, including celebrities like Kim Kardashian (and we all know once a Kardashian touches something, it’s instantly on fire).

Make sure your customers’ pin game is strong. Contact Idea Custom Solutions for vector artwork to help get their logo ready for custom email pins.


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