Pins featuring the name and colors or your alma mater are a nice way to show affinity to the college you love and support. We’re not sure how far back collegiate pins go; the first reference we could find was to a Bowdoin College pin referenced in the New York Times in November 1892, “A college pin has at last made its appearance. It is in the shape of a small square silver button, and across its white enameled fact is the word Bowdoin.”
Collegiate buttons mirror the evolution of buttons in the political sphere. Although their history can be traced back earlier, the first buttons widely used in a presidential campaign were in 1896. For those a little rusty on their 19th century history that was William McKinley vs. William Jennings Bryan. The first pin-back style button was patented in 1896.
Although less popular today, vintage pin-back buttons are still sought after by collectors and alumni. As seen in the image above, there is a broad range of style and types of buttons. Many were intended to be worn at football games, thus many schools have varieties that feature dangling footballs or football players.
Famous illustrators even dabbled in pins as evidenced by this nice Yale button with the design done by Rube Goldberg:
We have a nice selection of vintage pins and buttons for many colleges available on our website: