Updated 2016: In the world of Disney pin collecting, a number of unscrupulous pin traders and eBay pin sellers are out there. They will sell and trade scrappers and fakes as if they were authentic Disney pins and they flood the market with limited edition pins that are in high demand – making them worth virtually nothing. To protect the integrity of the pin trading hobby, here are some hints and tips you can follow to make sure these pin profiteers do not take advantage of you and do not continue to proliferate counterfeit pins through online auction sites.
High positive feedback is not an indication of trustworthiness. The truth is most pin traders are amateurs and don’t even realize that they have a counterfeit. They only way they know is when they try to trade something at a show and someone with more experience points out to them flaws they’ve never seen before. Paint discoloration, paint dimples, rough edges, lightweight material, magnetized pins, etc. are all indicators of a fake. The first time you realize you’ve been taken advantage of is pretty disheartening. But by then it’s far too late and positive feedback has already been left for the seller. Simply check the negative and neutral feedback ratings. If you read they sell scrappers, odds are they do.
Be wary of anyone who sells multiples of an item that has a low limited edition. Some sellers routinely auction off the same pins every week – many of which have low limited edition runs (LE300 or less). Worse yet, there are sellers who have multiple eBay IDs and put up the same pins under different names so you can’t pinpoint just one. The odds of multiples of the same pin with a low limited edition run being up for auction far after its release is a good indicator the seller is hawking fakes. The Jessica DCA pins are good examples. Released by Walt Disney Imagineering exclusively for cast members, these flooded eBay. Full sets, framed sets, and individual pins are all over the place – of a pin that is only LE 150 and released in 2012. When a pin is new, there tends to be a flood of them on eBay as people sell their extras. But after an initial release, people tend to hold onto their pins. So if you suddenly see many of a very low LE pin that was in very high demand, odds are it is a counterfeit so beware.
Be cautious of those with extremely high seller feedback numbers. Do your homework. Do they release hundreds of pins every week or generally somewhere under 100? Do they list the same pins week after week? Are their prices unusually low for a pin that is in high demand? Do they sell lots of pins in bulk? Are they located in a place with a likelihood they attended the event themselves? All of these tidbits of information are available to anyone so take the time to look at them. Especially if the pin you’re interested in is in high demand. Now, if you are looking for a pin that isn’t in high demand and there are not a lot of them on the market, odds are it’s a good pin. But someone who is selling a large number of Disney Soda Fountain pins who lives in North Carolina or Alabama or Idaho is probably selling counterfeits. It would just be too difficult to get a high quantity of a low LE pin so far away from the original source. Is it impossible? No, of course not. But if you make a living selling pins and you don’t live near a theme park, it’s good to question the merchandise. The largest number of eBay sellers of Disney pins live near or around California and Florida because they have better access. They will also be near people who collect and when those people sell their collections they likely won’t travel to the East Coast, but instead go local. So keep those things in mind.
Read the descriptions. Truthfulness is important on eBay. If your descriptions can be proven to be false, a seller is banned and even dishonest sellers don’t want to ruin a profile with high feedback. To get around this, pin sellers hawking fakes will use key phrases to avoid directly lying such as “has the Disney trademark and can be traded in the parks.” Well any pin CAN be traded in the parks if it looks real. “Has Mickey head pin backs” is also a clue because it means nothing. You can simply buy pin backs and put them on and pin forgers just produce their own anyway. “We traded for these pins at the park” is also a clue because they likely went and traded scrappers for scrappers if they actually went at all. If you want to be sure, simply ask the seller a question, “Did you personally purchase this pin at the park (Disney Studio Store, WDI, etc)?” or “Can you guarantee that this pin is not a fake or scrapper?” An honest trader will answer. A dishonest one will likely avoid the question.
These hints and tips are given just so you can be an aware pin trader. There’s nothing more disappointing than investing heavily in your hobby and finding out half your pins are fakes. So protect yourselves. The safest way of course to make sure you have authentic pins is to buy them directly from Disney. But if there’s a pin you want that you just couldn’t make it for the event or the release, then just be careful. Buy it near the release date. Buy it from someone who was probably at the event. And just be aware. If you are, you’ll be much happier!
- Follow the rest of our Pin Trading 101 information posts: Resources, Places to Trade and Collect, Pin Lingo, 4 Ways to Avoid Pin Trading Pitfalls, 5 Ways to Tell Your Pin is a Fake