By Emma Longcope

The AAC is now home to perhaps the most extensive mountaineering pin collection ever, thanks to a generous donation by collector Matt Brooks. This begs the question: what is a mountaineering pin?

The pins are relics from far-off places and expeditions. They range from dime-sized to larger than a silver dollar. They come mainly from Eastern Europe and Russia, a handful from Germany, Switzerland and Italy. Many represent specific alpine huts. Only two of the pins organized so far represent the US; both are from Yellowstone National Park.

“The pins are fun to look at, but they also represent a lot of history,” says librarian Jessica Rogers.

Rogers knows. She, assisted off and on by various volunteers, has been tasked with examining, classifying, and organizing every single pin in the collection. How many are there? It’s hard to say right now. Boxes full of the pins occupy all surfaces in Rogers’ small makeshift office, which occupies a closet in the Henry S. Hall Jr. American Alpine Club Library. So far (as of early December), she’s counted 10,951 pins: 311 trays, or the contents of eight boxes and one binder. There are still four more boxes to count.

The organization process is a long road, but a rewarding one. The first stage Rogers describes is taking an inventory of the pins. This involves figuring out how many pins are unique (versus duplicates) and sorting them by mountain range. Rogers hopes the whole collection will be unboxed and counted by mid-February.

The next stage will be to continue delving deeper into the pins’ specific stories, further researching their origin and meaning. Eventually, be on the lookout for a potential “coffee-table” book with pin photos and stories, and for a permanent exhibit displaying the pins at the American Mountaineering Museum.

Lastly, make sure to enter our pin-count contest to win an AAC beanie and stainless steel pint glass, and follow the AAC Library to stay in the loop and learn more.