The Rusty Pin by Alice Ridgway

The Rusty Pin, a place for the tiny ephemeral snap shots of a time and culture that we call pins to be appreciated and given a second life. I myself have, since the age of 13, adorned many items of clothing with these tiny cultural signifiers…. “ERrr Yes I listen to Slipknot”; “Yes I made this pin myself, fuck ‘the man’!” and I 100% have a box full to the brim of mine and my husbands retired but much loved pin badges upstairs. So, when I came across this little slice of pin badge heaven I was a very happy grown up grunger.

Alice has gathered a collection of pin badges that will make anyone that has been a part of some from of sub-culture/counterculture or political movement nostalgic and super excited to see what she has to offer. From obscure rarities and mini fluro posters, anti-Murdoch protest badges, antique metal snoopy pins to (my much loved) nu-metal bundles. The Rusty Pin is a love letter to these miniature slices of history and I hope you enjoy what Alice has to say about them and her pin badge rescue mission.

1. Tell us about yourself and your brand. 

Hello! I’m Alice and I’ve been running The Rusty Pin for around 3 years now which is about the same time I started working at the V&A in the museum collections and archives. Whilst I’ve always loved history and collecting, I definitely developed more of an obsession with material culture after being surrounded by museum objects.
I think I ended up collecting pin badges because they are cute and fun and always lurking at the bottom of an old tin at car boots. I also love that they are ephemeral, produced cheaply and not made to last, so every time I find one it feels like a little rescue mission.
The Rusty Pin collects and sells pin badges which span music, film, pop culture, adverts and politics. Matt at Teejerker was a big help when it came to getting up and running with his approach of curating a niche selection of vintage finds which you couldn’t really buy anywhere else. Selling is a hobby that basically allows me to buy more pins, and recently I’ve been adding postcards, scrapbooks, posters and key-rings to the mix.
I really enjoy the process of finding an old forgotten pin badge, taking a nice little photo and doing some research on its history so it ends up with a new lease of life with a new owner. 

2. What are your Inspirations?

When it comes to inspo, I will never fail to be amazed by collections of mass-produced consumer culture and I have a few favourite places. 
First up is Museum De Dinge in Berlin, it literally translates as ‘Museum of Things’ and contains cabinets packed full of mass produced 20th and 21st century objects from Nazi memorabilia to plastic hamburgers. The objects are arranged by colour and theme which makes it even more of a delight to wander around.
Museum of Brands in Notting Hill is also great when I feel like a nostalgia hit from well designed old packaging and obsessing over the evolution of Cadbury’s chocolate bars.
Last of all is one I see everyday at work and never gets boring – Eduardo Paolozzi’s Krazy Kat Arkive of 20th Century Popular Culture. Its loosely based on the theme ‘The Image of the Hero in Industrial Society’ but contains everything Paolozzi collected for artistic inspiration. It ranges from board games, robots, scrapbooks, tear sheets, wind up toys and figurines.

3. Lets chat about social media- a hindrance or help? 

Social media is undoubtedly a great help for me as its where I drum up most of my business. It has been an adjustment though, I don’t have a personal Instagram as I’m quite a private person and I do resent the black hole of lost time and space I can slip into on that app. Nothing really compares to Instagram in terms of reach and impact but I’m hoping this will shift. Particularly after Covid I’m craving IRL experience over online so I’ll be at a few car boot sales and markets in the near future selling old bits and bobs and am hoping others will be doing the same.

 4. Where would you like your business to be in a few years? 

In a few years I’d like to be selling a broader range of ephemeral culture but still keeping a niche and considered selection of goods. I’ve not made any zines in a while so I’ll definitley work on a few more of those. I’m also working on some DIY badge making workshops which focus on the history of activism and protest. 

5.  Who are your favourite small businesses or creatives doing interesting things? 

Creatives I’m loving at the moment are @pawson.novelties for the humour, kitsch and massive output of all kinds of art. I also love @eighteen86 for the multidisciplinary approach, vintage clothing, unofficial merch, zines, photography and everything inbetween focused on Arsenal football club.

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