Miniature masterpieces and monuments to history.

Mercedes-Benz pins and badges.
  • Pins – Miniature masterpieces and monuments to history

  • A passion for collecting.

    Over 6250 pins and buttons show more than 100 years of a very special corporate history. About 3000 of them are part of the collection of former employee Gerhard Schuster alone, and these form the core of the pin database established by Mercedes-Benz Classic in 2010.

    Benz Gaggenau brooch (1920).

    Centrepiece of collection almost 100 years old.

    Gerhard Schuster gets quite excited when talking about the centrepiece of his collection. He bought the brooch, issued by “Benz Gaggenau” in 1920, a few years ago “for a couple of hundred euros”, as the 62-year old relates. In total, the former Mercedes-Benz employee has around 3000 Mercedes-Benz pins and badges in his collection. “I couldn’t tell you exactly how many there are”, he says. In 2010 he joined forces with other collectors and active or former colleagues at Mercedes-Benz to keep a record of Mercedes-Benz pins in the form of a unique database. This database now contains 5733 pieces (as of early August 2012) and growing, since any collector is able to contribute photos and fill in missing information. “The database is open to everyone. It is a living thing that will never stop evolving” says Gerhard Schuster.

    Mercedes-Benz Service streddle wrench (IAA 2004).

    Pins have been issued since the 1980s.

    What exactly are pins? They are badges with a pin at the back that are fixed in place using a butterfly clutch. “The pins that we see today have been around since the 1980s”, explains collector Gerhard Schuster. In Europe, and France in particular, it was the done thing at the time for companies to issue pins to customers.

    Pins are the successors to the cloakpin, shawl clasp, broach and tie pin. In the US, badges have been given out as promotional articles since the late 19th century.

    300 SL pin from the US (undated).

    However, when asked about a colourful A-Class pin from Brazil, the collector is immediately able to expound on the manufacturing process as well as praising the virtues of the epoxy silver coating, for example.

    Sheriff’s badges and other stars.

    The pin database, put together by collectors with the support of Mercedes-Benz Classic in just under one and a half years, contains a mix of the old and the new, the big and the small, the round and the angular. They feature various models and models series from the history of Mercedes-Benz, as well as logos, advertising slogans, busts of Carl Benz, and all manner of variations on the Mercedes-Benz star. There are curiosities such as the pin for the 2007 Works Council Conference, or a sheriff’s badge featuring a truck. Or miniature masterpieces such as Mercedes-Benz racing legend Bernd Schneider holding a cup, an open-end spanner from Mercedes-Benz Service (“embossed pin, 37mm x 10mm”) and much, much more. “With many of the pins it’s impossible to tell who made them, or why” says Gerhard Schuster, sadly.

    Sheriff’s badges and other stars.

    The pin database, put together by collectors with the support of Mercedes-Benz Classic in just under one and a half years, contains a mix of the old and the new, the big and the small, the round and the angular. They feature various models and models series from the history of Mercedes-Benz, as well as logos, advertising slogans, busts of Carl Benz, and all manner of variations on the Mercedes-Benz star. There are curiosities such as the pin for the 2007 Works Council Conference, or a sheriff’s badge featuring a truck. Or miniature masterpieces such as Mercedes-Benz racing legend Bernd Schneider holding a cup, an open-end spanner from Mercedes-Benz Service (“embossed pin, 37mm x 10mm”) and much, much more. “With many of the pins it’s impossible to tell who made them, or why” says Gerhard Schuster, sadly.

    300 SL pin from the US (undated).

    However, when asked about a colourful A-Class pin from Brazil, the collector is immediately able to expound on the manufacturing process as well as praising the virtues of the epoxy silver coating, for example.

    “Internal” pins most in demand.

    The “official” pins produced by Mercedes-Benz often come in two variations. On the one hand there are the high-volume batches sold at customer centres and trade fairs. In years past, “Have you got any pins?” was the most frequently asked question at the IAA International Motor Show in Frankfurt. At the same time, slightly modified versions were distributed on a smaller scale within the company, “in recognition of employee performance” as Gerhard Schuster explains. As was the case with the Brazilian A-Class pins. These “internal” pins have of course always been more prized by “external” collectors. And even though the pins depicted are certain to include many rarities, the creators of the database have made a conscious decision not to include monetary valuations.

    Mercedes-Benz Starsalesmen Guild (1971).

    Stroke 8 series from the 'Verein der Heckflossenfreunde' (as of 2011).

    Collecting bug inspired by A-Class pins.

    Gerhard Schuster was introduced to pin collecting by a colleague in 1993 when he was working in materials testing at the Sindelfingen plant. A contact at the Rastatt plant, which was still in planning at the time, would regularly bring him A-Class pins.

    Until Mr Schuster finally caught the collecting bug. “It’s a hobby that keeps me occupied every day” the retiree says happily.

    Unimog 411 pin (2002).

    Contacts in the US and Africa.

    Gerhard Schuster is now in regular contact with collectors in the US and South Africa. This international exchange is indispensable. “Pins from other countries like China or Brazil are very difficult to get hold of”, he says. ”We often send enquiries directly to the plants in those countries”. As Schuster explains, the internet has made networking much simpler. “I can remember when we used to send colour photocopies of lists by post” the collector recalls. He describes the appeal of collecting pins as the fact that you can never be “finished”, because no-one knows how many different pins there even are. “You are constantly coming across pins that you’ve never seen before”. Even if his hobby is sometimes mocked by laypeople (what dedicated collector has not experienced this?), Schuster says “For me the pins are like little monuments to the history of the company”. And highly decorative ones at that, as anyone can see by taking a look at the database.

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