The Collector: Earn Merit Badges - Leafcutter Designs


The Collector: Earn Your Own Badge

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Just today, while going through some old drawers, I stumbled upon a stash of vintage girl scout “The Collector” badges. These deserve to be awarded and enjoyed, so here’s my idea…

Email me a photo of a collection of unusual or mundane things you have curated, horded, or assembled and I’ll send the first twenty of you one of these special badges to commemorate your gathering. Just be sure to include your mailing address in your email submission.

Earning Your Badge

I won’t require that you follow the original girl scout program to earn the badge, but isn’t it fun to read nonetheless? Here are the classic instructions:

  • Start a collection or add to one you have already started.
  • Figure out a way to arrange your collection at home. Use scrapbooks, shelves, boxes, or whatever seems best for the collection
  • Group or label the objects in your collection so they will be interesting to other people.
  • Choose three objects and write a display label for each telling such things as: Where you found it. Age of object. How it was made. Story about it.
  • Find out more about your collection in one of the following ways: Visit another collector to see his or her exhibit. Read books or magazines. Talk to someone who knows about what you are collecting.
  • Show your troop your newest addition and one of your favorite pieces in your collection.
  • Display your collection at a troop meeting or hobby show, or invite some troop members to see your collection at home.

I particularly like requirements three, four and five because they encourage you to be a curator and connect your collection to other people and the wider world around you.

My Favorite Collections

Here are two examples from my own varied collection of collections: vintage feature matchbooks and miniature postal items.

Feature matches were used for advertising and promotion. The matches themselves are printed, often in very imaginative and sweet ways.

Feature matches were used for advertising and promotion for all kinds of businesses, and first appeared around 1935.

The matches themselves are printed, often in very imaginative and sweet ways.

Update 8/10/2012

Inspired by my collection, Lisa Hix of Collectors Weekly just published Playing With Matches, a wonderful article tracking the evolution of feature matches. Lisa’s write-up includes plenty more fun examples of creative matchbook concepts.

Second up is my “small” collection of vintage postal related items. The paper truck and mailbox are constructed from cutouts from an old magazine. And check out the tiny girl scout epistolary badge! The three tiny birdies with even tinier letters in their beaks (look closely!) were a 30th birthday gift from my mom last year: one for each decade.

What do you collect? I’d love to see!

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Lea Redmond is always looking for the poem hiding inside things: a salt shaker, a clothes tag, a hand gesture, a cloud. She is infinitely intrigued by the way experiences can slip from the ordinary to the extraordinary and she endeavors to design things that hold this possibility. Leafcutter Designs, her creative studio in Berkeley, CA, makes the world more playful and peaceful one little experience at a time.


  1. Heather Milton

    July 25, 2015 at 6:55 pm

    I love your match collection. I was wondering how you got started and where you found all the vintage matchbooks?

  2. Kim

    November 12, 2013 at 10:36 am

    Just stumbled across this post. Love this topic! Any badges left?! I’m a collector of all sorts of things: pressed souvenir pennies, scissors, tape measures, thimbles, buttons, stamps, foreign currency…just to name a few!

  3. Angela

    May 15, 2013 at 7:24 pm

    Hi Lea,

    I’m pretty late to the party, but as unrepentant collector, I had to see if any of the badges are still available.

    I collect: stamps, maps, fruit crate labels, rubber stamps, cobalt blue glass items (bottles, jars, dishes,etc) and quotes.

    I’ll upload a photo of the blue glass if you like.

    • Lea Redmond

      May 16, 2013 at 11:15 am

      Hi Angela – I still have a few badges. Email me a note and a photo of a collection: Include your mailing address for the badge!

  4. learedmond

    April 14, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    Yes! I still have more badges – email me a photo of your collection and your mailing address! -Lea

  5. Anna

    April 11, 2011 at 4:29 pm

    Are you still accepting photos? Do you still have any badges left?

  6. Kathy Pearlman

    November 6, 2010 at 6:56 pm

    Oh, Lea, I collect Teddy bears! My pictures show pieces of my collection, some of which have been put into storage because there isn't enough room for all of them. Here's a link. My husband collects comics and comic related stuff – which is why I don't have room to display my poor bears anymore. Some of them are ones I made myself, too, like the one of rabbit fur – an old child's coat…

  7. Lea Redmond

    November 6, 2010 at 5:47 pm

    Awesome TheSeaWithin! Email me your address and I'll drop a badge in the mail for you!

  8. TheSeaWithin

    November 6, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    I LOVE collections! I collect pyrex and porcelain hound dogs… and a million other things.

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