New patch-trading app, official seal answer question: ‘Is it authentic?’

“No, dude, I swear,” a Scout said. “There were only 500 of these patches ever made.”

I heard similar claims all throughout the patch trading bazaar that has cropped up under the overhangs at the still-to-be-completed Scott Visitor Center at the Summit.

Everywhere, patch traders hawked their wares from zip-top bags or sprawling blankets while swearing that the patch they were offering was the rarest one around.

It was chaos. And then I spotted James, a Scout from C241 in the Mecklenburg County Council, who was calmly looking at his iPhone.

He showed me PatchScan, a new app from the BSA’s Licensing Team.

Here’s how it works: Any officially licensed 2013 National Jamboree shoulder patch must have a QR code or officially licensed product seal. Not all patches will have the QR code, but if they were issued in 2007 or beyond and don’t have a QR code or officially licensed product seal, chances are they’re fake. So check the back before making a trade, because fake patches are a real problem. I saw several unofficial patches sitting on blankets next to official ones as I browsed the patch bazaar today.

In the past, it was one Scout’s word against another’s. Not anymore.

Using the free PatchScan app, a Scout can scan the QR code and view the patch issuer, manufacturing specifications and other details. They’ll see, for example, that only 500 Western Massachusetts Council 2013 jamboree patches have ever been issued (see screenshots below for a closer look).

Now, this app won’t work on regular council shoulder strips, jamboree shoulder strips from past jamborees or other non-jamboree patches. That’s why the officially licensed product seal is a good secondary verification tool.

But the app will help a patch trader verify the authenticity and rarity of a 2013 jambo patch that does have the code before he or she makes a trade.

Or as James put it: “You can scan it to make sure you don’t get ripped off.”







Related post: 2013 Jamboree Scouts show off their favorite patches

29 thoughts on “New patch-trading app, official seal answer question: ‘Is it authentic?’

  1. Question, is the bar code imprinted on the back of the patch or is it just a sticker. My boys were given sets of patches directly from Central Florida Council, just checked and none of the patches have the code and would not register in my patch scan app. They have been trading for days and I know they are legit, but if a boy wanted to use patch scan they would not have been able to validate.

  2. Thanks, Cheryl and Susan. I have clarified this in the post to indicate that the QR code and/or seal should be present in 2013 patches. If a patch lacks both, it’s probably fake.

    • Bryan while I agree that knowing what patches are “official” to me that isn’t the most important thing but maybe that is just me. I do realize though however it is national’s attempt at protecting the brand but in my opinion it isn’t necessary. But this is probably because I believe in the Creative Commons model of copyrighting and licensing.

    • Bryan while I agree that knowing what patches are “official” to me that isn’t the most important thing but maybe that is just me. I do realize though however it is national’s attempt at protecting the brand but in my opinion it isn’t necessary. But this is probably because I believe in the Creative Commons model of copyrighting and licensing.

  3. A lookup system would be nice, like the abili to search for patches by council. Database obviously exists already.

  4. I have a set from Chief Seattle, straight from a participant, and there is no QR code. It has the BSA seal. Not all jamboree patches have a QR code. Whether it does or not depends upon whom the council selected to manufacturer the patches. The patchscan website says: “Not all official patches have PatchScan codes on the back, but all BSA Officially Licensed Products produced after January 1, 2007 will have one or all of the following insignia on the item or on packaging” It then shows two types of seals that are not QR codes. One of the seals is gold or black and there is supposed to be a holographic seal attached, and the other is a green / gold gradation – similar to the variation they use when printing newer dollar bills.

  5. Truthfully speaking………………if a Scout was actually following the Scout Law this would never be an issue but unfortunately it has become an issue because of the fact that patch trading has become ultra competitive. I think the biggest lesson here is that talking to an experienced patch trader that you know will be honest with you is the best way to prevent this sort of issue from coming up.

    But anyway here are a few tips for the newbie patch trader that I have found to be worthwhile to mention:
    1) A lot of so called “Rare Patches” just aren’t that rare. This has to do with the fact that so many people believe that just because a ad for a patch or a trader tells you there was a “limited quantity”. I always question the person with “how many patches were made?” If the person doesn’t know or it is above about 200 patches it probably is that “rare”

    • 2) If you are new to trading ask someone you know and trust to go with you the first couple of times to make sure you understand the basics of trading. It is always very obvious to any person with decent trading experience to identify a “newbie” right off the bat.
      3) Pay attention to what other traders are going for. If there seems to be a lot of request for this patch or that set find out more about it but don’t automatically assume the information is absolutely true.

    • 4) Offer the fewest patches possible that you believe the patch or set you are going for is worth. If someone tells you an outrageous number inquire further and talk to others to see exactly what is going on.
      5) Avoid the “Expert Trader” this person is most likely to rip a “newbie trader” off because the only thing these experts care about is getting the most patches possible. Easiest way to identify an “Expert Trader” is by how many patches he has or if the person is bragging all the time to others.

    • 6) Don’t make rash decisions. Traders forcing you to make rash and quick decisions are probably hiding something. Now this may not be true but it is always better to be safe than sorry.
      7) Don’t touch another traders patches without permission. Some people are very particular in how they care for their patches and may become irritated and irrational if aggravated.

    • 8) Ask questions! Interact with the trader, trading patches in Scouting isn’t just about getting as many patches as possible. You are probably going to be surprised with the amount of information share just because your in a Scouting environment.
      9) Avoid aggressive traders, if someone tells you be careful of “Trader X” avoid them unless you know what your doing!
      10) Research, research, research! Keep up to date with what is going on in the “Patch Trading World” and use your resources!

  6. To me it doesn’t matter authenticity because I am usually looking at patches designed for a specific event or even for a patrol that was designed by them exclusively. To me those are the cool patches.

  7. Okay, just for kicks I thought I would scan my 2013 National Jamboree NESA Life Member patch, but it does not have a QR code. I’m guessing there are just going to be exceptions … but I bought mine directly from NESA so I’m not concerned about authenticity.

  8. This just shows how far patch trading has strayed from its original roots as a simple exchange of gifts when meeting a brother Scout from another area. That supported the point of the Scout Law that a Scout is Friendly.

    I’m not sure what point the current state of patch trading supports to if we need computer systems to make sure one isn’t being cheated. 😦

  9. Not all ‘unofficial’ patches are fakes/scams/counterfeits/frauds/etc. The patch-snobs in BSA licensing should quit spreading such rumors.
    There are plenty of private-issue/spoof/unofficial/etc. patches that will never be official. These can be just as fun and/or valuable as the official ones.
    I have a private-issue patch that was created to go along with my unofficial scouting website. The patches were made by a BSA licensed shop, but since they are not affiliated with a council or official event, they are not officially BSA approved. They are the same quality, and made at the same factory, but they don’t have the official seal on the back. That does not make them fake.

    • I like this… scouts trade for patches they like, official or not. It puts FUN first. Maybe the scout will talk to you and learn something about the whole process of getting patches made.

    • The problem is that there ate some individuals producing copies of official patches and/or non-official patches that claim to be official event patches. This is much more scandalous in the patch trading community than just a nonofficial patch. I’ve had patches produced by licensed companies but I don’t try to tell people that the patches are “official”. It really comes down to representation. Are the traders trading or trying to rip each other off?

  10. I am not a collector but understand the interest. This sounds like an opportunity for some good Boy Scout training in the model of American Pickers…and following the BSA laws…and how to beware. All skills useful throughout life.

  11. Look on ebay under “scouting” with the subsection “patches” and you will find over 88,000 entries and that’s just patches! These are all being sold, not traded! If it’s only about “getting the patch” then that’s where I would start. However IF (and I believe most people fall into this group) the goal is to trade interesting patches, make new friends and generally have a great time, well… I would think that you would be well advised to follow those rules that Scouting Maniac posted. What I would advise is that you need to keep your priorities straight. Know WHY you are trading patches and don’t let yourself get caught up so much that you forget the why in the pursuit of that next patch! I was one of those “patch collector wannabes” when I joined OA in 1976 and I went crazy trying to acquire OA flaps. I’m ashamed to admit that, in the attempt to acquire the next patch, I put friendship and fellowship way down on the list of things I was concerned about! Three months later, at our Fall Fellowship, I had my entire collection stolen. Apparently, some other scout had lost his perspective and abandoned his principles in his obsession to acquire something. I was devastated for the rest of the weekend but it was like a splash of ice cold water hit me as I came to my senses and realized that I had been obsessed. Yes, my “precious” patches were gone but I had regained something much more valuable, my scouting values! I owe that unknown thief my thanks and I sincerely hope that he also came to his senses and re-embraced scoutings values. Now, I still enjoy the beauty of a patch. It is a form of art that has as some of it’s best examples, designs for Scouting. If I pick up a design now, it’s for my boy. He will have the opportunity to learn the fun and fellowship of trading patches and maybe he can avoid making the same mistake his father did. Is it rare? Is it valuable? How about is it beautiful? Whatever reason, go have fun and make new friends. Come home with fond memories and some cool patches that you can show your fellow scouts. Isn’t that really what patch trading is all about?

    • Well said, the whole patch trading thing always seemed to not fit the oath/law for me. If I wanted to haggle and get ripped off I would head over to a flea market.

  12. Apologies, but I just don’t get it. I read the article and all the comments and this activity seems to go directly against the oath/law. If it is the case people are passing counterfeit patches, “expert” traders are attempting to rip off “newbies”, the fact that there even are “newbies”, all of this strikes me as a bad idea. Sounds like a good thing got out of hand. Reading this thread actually made me sad!

    • “Apologies, but I just don’t get it. I read the article and all the comments and this activity seems to go directly against the oath/law.”

      When I have Scouts who are just learning and getting into patch trading I always give some of the advice that I posted in the comments on “tips for trading”. Trading patches has at least for as long as I can remember were always trading something of value to a Scout. Patches are HUGE in the US but then again it is becoming more and more popular around the world. At international events it seems like while uniforms are still traded some of the time, the biggest item traded is Neckerchiefs (or Kneckerchiefs for those of you who prefer the other spelling).

      Patch trading and trading in general has drifted from its original purpose but that is because the older Scouts and Scouters aren’t teaching what trading is really about. Too many people think that trading is just about getting the “best” or the most “popular” or most “coveted patches but it is all about interacting and making friends from around the country if not from around the world.

      The “Spirit of Trading” will return to its roots when those who understand the spirit share their knowledge and insights with younger leaders and the youth. Continue the tradition, banning this activity would eliminate a very big part of Scouting that allows people to understand what the “Brotherhood of Scouting” is all about.

      If it is the case people are passing counterfeit patches, “expert” traders are attempting to rip off “newbies”, the fact that there even are “newbies”, all of this strikes me as a bad idea. Sounds like a good thing got out of hand. Reading this thread actually made me sad!

  13. It seemed sad to me that some scouts apparently spent the majority of their Jamboree time in patch trading. If it weren’t for their Curriculum, MOPDOS, and Trek, they might not have participated in any of the wildly broad selection of activities available at the Summit.

    • This again has to do with a lack of understanding of what a Jamboree is supposed to be about which is perpetuated by what the culture of Jamboree has become.

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