I have always been surrounded by piles of patches. Before I was a collector my father, Al , was the collector. We are not sure whether collecting is a learned behavior or not , but I have always been one and always felt the need to collect. My family and I have always joked around about the habit of collecting being a gene that is passed down from one generation to the next. Some of us got it, and others did not. But those of us that have it, can’t help it. It’s a part of who we are. Every family seems to have a line of a few quirky individuals. Those that are consistently and constantly searching and building upon their own ultimate collector’s dream (whether it be baseball cards, coins, hot wheels, stamps, patches or a mixture of it all). You will know if you live with a person with ther "collector gene." There will be stashes in boxes and corners of rooms, labels, research materials, and rules about what to touch and what not to touch (A constant and revolving chaos that only we can explain).Some of these collections are not worth a dime, others are valuable, and some just sentimental. If you are a collector, I am sure you recognize the signs. If you are not, just smile and reply with a “that’s very nice” when your are presented with the latest acquisitions. Showing support will work for us everytime time.
Since I have the “collector gene”, it is only natural that I collect scout patches. My fondest memories are of Scout Campfires. Everyone would be sitting around the campsites exchanging patches. I can see myself trying to collect entire sets of our Camp Sysonby Summer Camp patches. It was a hobby of mine when I was young, and it still is today.
Today, I specialize in Virginia Council Strips, merit badges and National jamboree items. Merit badge history is fascinating as there are now about 10 different major types as issued by BSA since 1911 with hundreds of different subject matters within each type. As taste and interest change, so does the merit badges offered by BSA. Many badges of the first years are now discontinued such as Pigeon Raising, Beekeeping, and Stalking. In 2005, I authored a Jamboree memorabilia guide entitled “Valuation Guide for Selected Jamboree Patches and Souvenirs 1935 – 2005”.
As with all things collectible, condition is the most important thing. Used or sewn patches are worth a fraction of what a mint unused one is worth. Most patches of the early years of scouting 1911 – 1950’s are used. There were not many made and when given to scouts they generally went right on the uniform. During the 1960’s, collecting became a fad. Many scouts saved their badges as mint.
Here is a great site for you to read about collecting: Collector's Guide