Observations … from a fellow Patch Collector

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PERSPECTIVE: You need to keep your perspective when it comes to patch collecting. Patch collecting is meant to be FUN not stressful; trading patches helps develop new friendships with fellow patch collectors (see Community); although it can be costly at times, it is not meant to be a financial burden (see Limits).

AVAILABILITY:  The older the patch, the rarer the patch is perceived by patch collectors. Older patches are usually more difficult for patch collectors to acquire, especially due to lack of availability. Advanced patch collectors often seek the older or more obscure patches to fill holes in their collections. These patches tend to draw a greater monetary value due to their limited availability. These patches usually require monster trades or deep pockets $$$ (see Trading).

TRADING:  A patch for a patch! This old school way of patch trading still holds true for today. Many still enjoy trading for patches than purchasing them. Patches being traded should be of equal value of course. Example: A sectional patch for a national patch would not be considered equal value, although based off need the trade could still happen. Trades can also be 2 patches for 1, 3 patches for 1, etc. … whatever it takes to get the trade done and fair for both patch collectors involved (see Trading Capital, Needs List, and Good Trade).

COST: There is no Kelly Blue Book for the $$$ value of patches. Pricing is determined by the two parties involved in the transaction. Availability of the patch, and the age of the patch plays a large part in its costing. A monetary value can be difficult to determine on a patch. There are some rare patches that go for over $500 – $1000. Auction pricing does not set the actual monetary value of a patch.

HELPFUL:  Remember to be helpful to new patch collectors. We were all new to patch collecting at some point. It is helpful to get new collectors started in patch collecting by giving them some patches, both for their collection and for trading (see Trading Capital). Be a Patch Collection Mentor; show them how to research patches, acquire patches, display patches, and evaluate the value of a patch.

COLLECTION:  Everyone needs to start somewhere in patch collecting. It is good to know what type of patches you want to start collecting and concentrate on them first. Let your collection grow over time. Set reasonable expectations; some new collectors want their patch collections to be like other collections that have taken fellow patch collectors twenty plus years to acquire. It doesn’t need to be filled in instantaneous, especially based on cost and availability. Patch collecting is not a sprint but a marathon race.

ONLINE: Online buying, selling, and trading has been a game changer in patch collecting. Online dealings help increase the availability of patches accessible to you and is a good way to acquire patches. Sites such as eBay, Etsy, Facebook, etc. are great places to start. Selling patches online can also help you get additional funds to spend on patches. Not everyone is into trading patches, especially those retiring from the hobby. Sometimes you must break down and buy patches you need.

LIMITS:  Set limits on what you are willing to spend on a patch; don’t break the bank and have patch collecting become a financial burden. Limited patch runs (i.e., fundraiser patches, limited edition patches, etc.) can be costly to collect due to limited availability. Remember if you don’t get a patch the first time it is offered doesn’t mean it won’t come around again. In patch collecting patience is a virtue.

LEARNING:  Patch collecting is a great way to preserve the history of an organization. Take time to learn about the patches you are collecting, their history, and what you specifically like about the ones you collect. There are many great resources online, and discussion groups via Facebook to help you along the way.

ETHICS:  Be considerate to other patch collectors and strive for fairness in all patch dealings. Patch collecting is not about selling patches for big time profit only. Being dishonest in your patch dealings will cause others to mistrust you. Be an outstanding patch collector … send payment right away for patches you buy, ship patches out right away, make things right if the patches don’t arrive, etc. Also, impress on new patch collectors the importance of ethics in patch collecting. Lead by example.

COMMUNITY:  The more you get into patch collecting, the larger your circle of patch collecting friends becomes. There is a great community of knowledgeable patch collectors online, and worldwide! Trading internationally can become costly mainly due to shipping, but don’t let that scare you off.

TRADING CAPITAL:  Know what you have available as trading capital. Buy patches at events you attend so you will have patches to trade with. Event pricing on patches is usually the best price you will get; it tends to go up after the event is over. Never trade away your only patch for an event you attended – it will be difficult to replace. Acquire patches that are good deals even if they might not be something you collect. Someone else might be interested in them for trades. Remember to keep your personal patch collection separate from your trading stock. When trading only show what you are willing to trade.

INTEREST:  Don’t just hide your patches away in a drawer, draw interest by showing off your patch collection. This will help others get interested in patch collecting. Displaying your collection also helps others know what you collect. This could help you fill in additional holes in your collection (see Needs List).

NEEDS LIST:  You need a constructive way to let fellow patch collectors know what holes you are looking to fill in your collections. A typed list (Word Doc, Excel Spreadsheet, PDF Document, etc.) will allow you to send it to fellow patch collectors. A Needs List is extremely helpful in the trading process. It is also good to have a printed or electronic copy with you at all times. You never know when a trade negotiation might start up.

GOOD TRADE:  When both parties are satisfied with the patch trade, acknowledge it with a handshake and agree verbally it was a “good trade”. It might be an old school way of sealing the deal, but it still brings a smile to my face.