Poetry and prose about patch collecting written by various collectors. If you would like to contribute additional material, please contact the Webmaster.

Just One More

by Greg Ogletree

True Collecting

by Greg Ogletree

Just One More

By Greg Ogletree

It’s like an itch that begs a scratch
Browsing for “just one more” patch
Thousands clearly will not suffice
Condition matters … but not the price
I can’t stand a gaping hole
“Complete collection” is my goal!

Need every size and each variation
From every machine in every last nation
Vivid, subdued, or with tan desert hues
It matters little if they’re new or well-used
Shifley or multihead, merrowed or cut
I’ll take one of each ’cause I’m a rag-pickin’ nut!

The queries I’ve sent to units far and nigh
Number more than the stars in a clear night sky
Send me the schedule and I’ll try to make
Every air show and swap meet in every state
The feet may tire and the back may ache
But at dealers’ tables my time I’ll take
To search and sift and flip and ask
As I pursue my collecting task
Between the meets I’ll go online
Scrolling through lists from 6 to 9
TV watching’s now a thing of the past
And with DSL I search twice as fast!

The auction sites are really cool
Thousands of patches–yes, I’m a fool…
Up all night for an auction’s end
Counting seconds ’til my snipe I send
I’ve got it bad, just ask my spouse
She says I’m married to my PC’s mouse
I scroll and click and read a bit
It’s the only exercise I ever get!

Pardon me now while I visit eBay
To up my proxies on the auctions today
I must make sure that my bids will score
‘Cause I gotta have “just one more!”

True Collecting

By Greg Ogletree

True collecting is more than merely gathering
items that strike one´s fancy. It´s a labor of
love that mixes the time-consuming challenge
of searching and the financial test of acquiring
with the science of sorting classifying and
preserving the objects of our devotion with the
same careful attention scientists use in a lab.

But the essence of authentic collecting reaches
beyond all this, for a true collector is more
than part explorer and part detective. A real
collector is also part professor compelled to
share with fellow enthusiasts the history behind
each artifact–its provenance, purpose, and
even anecdotal tidbits that might aid in a better
understanding or foster a greater appreciation
of its significance. Exhibition and publication,
then, are the hallmarks of a true collector.

The USAF Patch Collector’s Rules of Acquisition

Modified by Patrick Catt from an Unknown Author

1. You want it, therefore you need it.

2. You need it, therefore you must buy it.

3. All other things you need, including food, shelter, clothing, car insurance, and lunch money, are incidental in comparison to what you need for patch collecting.

4. NEVER add up the total for what you have purchased for patch collecting.

5. If you’re not sure you should buy something, for “whatever” reason, if someone else says they have it and “like” it, then you “have” to buy it!

6. If you are compelled to calculate total dollars spent on patch collecting, never count things that are not actual patches. (Display cases, etc.)

7. Never include items that cannot be traced via the receipt.

8. When writing checks from the joint checking account, always write “K.G.” in the check register. You will know that this stands for “Killer Goodies” (a.k.a. patches) but your SO will think it is Kroger Grocery when she scans the checkbook to see where you have been shopping. And she KNOWS groceries are expensive, and you need lots of them…

9. If a member of your family discards an item that is usable for patch collecting, you may replace it.

10. If everyone else wants it, then you must want it too even if you don’t know what it is.

11. If everyone else wants it, even if you don’t know what it is, and you find it on sale, buy it. Editor’s Note: This phenomenon is widely known as the SALE factor, and is the only situation in which the Collector may completely ignore Rules of Acquisition #6 and #7, and announce gleefully how much money he has SAVED by purchasing said items. This suspending of the rules is dependent upon:

  • A) The actual percentage off
  • B) The total dollar amount spent
  • C) The projected reaction of partner/other interested party.

For more detailed worksheet on Rule Suspension see Patch Collectors’ Rules of Acquisition Handbook, Chapter 9, Subsection C, Paragraph 14, and example on facing page.

12. NEVER, EVER let your wife/significant other read the USAF Patch Collector’s Rules of Acquisition, for reasons OBVIOUS to the seasoned collector. For those of you who are newbies, does “the jig is up” mean anything to you?

13. Reconciling yourself early to the fact that every trip to a patch show costs a minimum of $500–even if your intentions were to buy just one patch–will save you much anxiety and false guilt.

14. Grab bags MUST be purchased at the time they are advertised. There very likely could be that ONE special patch you cannot live without, and the others work for trades!

15. Keep “everything,” no matter how ugly, beat up, or worn it may be. It “will” become absolutely essential for a special trade some day.

16. You can’t take it with you applies only to money. Begin getting your loved ones accustomed to the fact that you intend to be buried with your patch collection.

17. Patch collecting is generally an inexpensive hobby.* This can be proved by applying logic to your purchases. For example, no hobby in which the goodies usually cost under $10 can possibly be as expensive as the usual big-ticket “male” hobbies such as restoring vintage automobiles, pro-team season tickets, etc. This just makes sense.

18. Whenever a new patch is made available, you must purchase it immediately; there are no exceptions!

19. The iron is NOT for clothes; it is for flattening out old, wrinkled trade patches. Anyone who uses an iron for clothes is excommunicated from the Patch Collector’s Union (PCU). Editor’s note: You may avoid excommunication by following subsection B pursuant to rule #23 which in layman’s terms translates as “you may use an iron for its original perverted purpose only by purchasing an auxiliary iron. However, only the old iron may be used for household purposes. Aforementioned perverted purpose is not one that is condoned by the PCU and should be performed ONLY by support staff personnel.

20. There is absolutely NO such thing as too many patch collecting reference magazines/books of any kind. Disregard nasty comments about reference guides and other patch collecting-related literature being stashed away in boxes at the back of the garage.

21. Corollaries here are:

  • A) The complete set of Jerry Polder’s The Comprehensive Illustrated Guide to United States Air Force Pocket/Shoulder Insignia is worth the $250…they are actually priceless.
  • B) It is perfectly acceptable to save not only anything remotely tradeable, but also all the other “junk patches” no one else wants…
  • C) “Reference Materials.” If you think that you will ever collect patches of a certain type (e.g., USAF airlift, USN submarines), you must buy the book(s) now for reference because it will not be available when you need it…

22. If you think there is a ghost of a chance that you might use it in a future trade, buy it now. Because if you need it later, you can bet:

  • A) You won’t be able to find it
  • B) No one will have heard of it
  • C) And there won’t be a substitute

23. A patch collector must purchase appropriate storage containers, shelves, bins, units, etc., for all collecting-related purchases. A collector has the right and responsibility to discard all previously purchased storage systems in order to purchase a new, more appropriate system at any time.  Please note that in 2002, the PCU instituted the ruling that zip-lock baggies are no longer considered viable storage units.

24. Patch collecting is your civic duty. Think globally, act locally. Purchasing patches and supplies is politically correct for the following reasons:

  • A) It supports the local business and reduces the number of unemployed
  • B) It promotes creativity and cottage industry
  • C) It supports minority-owned businesses (if patch vendors/collectors aren’t a minority, who is?!)
  • D) Buying expensive, foreign-made patches stimulates the economies of developing nations.

Thus purchasing patches is your civic duty! It logically follows that the world would be a better place if everyone collects patches. Write your congress person today to begin the process of passing legislation making it illegal not to collect patches.

25. If you happen upon a super patch-related deal somewhere and you buy enough patches for you and all your fellow collector friends, and your friends then buy some from you, the money they give you is free to be used to purchase MORE patches since it has been “laundered” and isn’t, technically, coming out of your pocket!

26. You must subscribe to or purchase every patch collector’s reference magazine/book whether or not you ever have time to read any of them. The pictures are always nice to look at and give you ideas for more patch purchases you need to make.

27. You must spend thousands of dollars on a home computer, a fast modem, and an internet account so you can get online to visit all the patch collectors’ websites and get the latest hobby information, AND, of course, to have access to all the on-line auction sites (eBay, etc.). Only then will you know where you can save $$$ on your next patch acquisition. This will indeed justify the total cost of your computer.

* The exception to this rule is FIS patches.

You Know You’re an Insignia Collector When…

By Lee A. Kampstad

You eagerly feel for the contents of an envelope before you open it.

The smell of bad coffee and cheap hot dogs at a collector show makes you hungry.

You remember saying “I will never pay over $50 for a patch” as you write a $300 check for a mint 1960’s USAF Air National Guard Fighter-Interceptor Squadron patch.

The tellers at the bank wonder what you do with all that cash on Friday.

The main reason you marry your third wife is because she collects insignia too.

Your house starts getting smaller and you spend more time at military shows than with your wife.

You move your clothes out of the closet to make room for insignia storage bins and binders.

Your computer hard drive capacity never has enough room for your continuing acquisitions.

You consider any rejected trade reply or out-of-stock purchase as “junk mail”.

You dread Sundays and holidays with no mail delivery.

You plan vacations around Military Shows.

You revise your budget according to postage rate increases.