Mike's Hard Rock Cafe World


Pin Identification

In this hobby there is more then meets the eye. When your at a pinevent or surfing on ebay for good deals did you ever notice or understand what mesh, grid, eyeball, boxed, large print or 4LC and 3LT mean? These are just a few of the pinback varations that are located on the back of your HRC pin. If your just starting out collecting these terms may get confusing to you. Let's start with the different types of manufacturers that were made.

Gift Creations Incorporation

American based company. At one time all HRC America/International non-franchised locations sold GCI pins. These pins were either produced in China or Taiwan w/the proper stampings on the back of the pin.



Eyeball back - used in the early HRA/HRI days when some of the first cafes began to sell pins
Grid back - produced in various designs the grid back was used for many USA/Europe/Mexican/Asian based pins
Weave back - only found for select USA pins the weave design appeared during the transition from enamel to cloisonne pins
Mesh back - very common early design for USA/Europe based pins
Later in production GCI produced a common back for most of their pins & is HRC logo'd back



GCI manufactured pins from two locations: Taiwan & China. In the beginning Taiwan produced all GCI pins but due to costs in manufacturing China became the main location to make & distribute pins. Each location of production were stamped accordingly.


Eyeball back made in Taiwan
Grid back made in China


In addition to the basic design differences that GCI produced there were several other differences that can make indentical pins (front view) collectible from what is stamped on the back. One element is the size of where GCI put their production information (known as a box) in.


From left to right: small, medium & large boxes


Of the five main design backs from above the grid back as the most differences as far as the size & how close the pattern is to each other.

From left to right: small squared, medium, large & large open. The large grid (#3) has a tight pattern in comparison to the pin to its right where the pattern is very loose. For some collectors its very hard to figure out the difference from a medium to large grid


The HRC logo'd pin back also can be found in a few different variations w/the focus on how the box is presented. Some pins will have the box depressed, outlined, non-outlined or different size. Also pins manufatured from China can be stamped w/"China" or "Made in China".

From left to right: boxed, non-boxed, large depressed box & smaller depressed box
"China" & "Made in China" 1LC's


The early GCI pins were produced w/the locking clasp back but later the tac back design has become the standard for today's HRC pins



Another variation is the is the amount of lines or text w/I the box itself. If the pin was made in Taiwan it is known as "T" & China based is known as "C". So if a pin has 2 lines of text & made in China it's known as a 2LC, 3 lines 3LC & so on. Most Taiwan produced pins have the 3LT stamp & generally are known as early GCI pins.


0 lines
1 line or 1LC
2 lines or 2LC
3 lines or 3LC
4 lines or 4LC


Often were prototypes were produced no back stamping was made until approved




Even though Gift Creations made many pins for different locations, it not cover certain areas of the world completly. Several other pin manufacturers did provide pins for other locations such as FC Parry, Idea, Thorncraft, Hi-Tai, PinUSA & Zechovoy to name a few.

FC Parry

Based out of London, England, FC Parry (FCP) produced many of the early pins when Hard Rock Cafe first began to offer pins at their cafes especially the London cafe as this was the 1st cafe opened in 1971. Other cafes such as Stockholm,Tokyo, Dallas, Reykjavik & Cancun offered FCP guitar pins in the early years of their respective establishment.


Known as a "large print" back due the script being spelled out is considered to be the older version of FCP pins
With the FCP info located in a small box this pin is known as the "boxed" version & very common


1 line w/a smooth back
Possibly a prototype type back design, the "nugget" back was never produced in large amounts
Very early FCP pins had this smooth back w/no script


FCP also made different back designs throught out the years. Here you can see a smooth back (left) & their pebble back (right)


When FCP produced a prototype they stamped "sample" on the back. Many samples were made until approved by the cafe or FCP


Idea Pins

Starting in 1993 Idea made pins were produced for Mexican cafes. In early 1995 HRC discountinued the production of Idea pins but still used them for Sterling Silver Staff pins.


Mesh back
Smooth back


Thorncraft Pins

All Reykjavik pins were produced from Thorncraft which was a Iceland based company. They are unique for all the pins are hand casted and painted.


The word "Thorncraft" is written on the neck of the guitar


Canadian Pins

There have been many manufacturers providing pins to the Canadian cafes ever since Toronto in 1978. From Mills, Shilo,GCI & Pin USA. Prior to 1997 Canadian cafes were not part of HRC International & were having pins made in Canada. This time was known as "preunification" for their logo was different then all other HRC cafes. Then from 1997 to 2000 the Canadian cafes were included under HRI & the logo was changed & GCI was the manufacturer. In June of 2000 all Canadain cafes except Toronto & Ottawa (2013) closed for good.

Mills pins were made in Ontario


Shilo produced pins from 1990 - 1996


Pins had a mesh back & either had one or two lines of text as well being dated


Made in Canada
Made in China



Starting out in the mid 1990's Pin Pals made many pins for HRC in the late 90's into the early 2000's until PinUSA took over operations. Today PinUSA provides a good portion of all the pins produced for most of HRC.


Pin Pals helped HRC is providing many pins when the hobby was starting to get popular with new collectors


Hologram's were first introduced from Pin USA to help cut down on the numerous fake pins being made


Different metal bases were introduced to help determine quanity made & if they were staff issued or not. London's 44th from retail (L) staff under 10 years & over 10 years of service


Hi-Tai Pins

Several Asian HRC's used Hi-Tai as their producer. Early pins provided their phone number (right) on the back


Skyline Pins

Skyline produced some pins for Buenos Aires


Zechovoy Pins

The Israelian producer Zechovoy made pins for the Tel Aviv cafe in addition to some from Gift Creations.


One cafe in particular used many different manufacturer's over the course of it's tenure to provide pins to collectors & tourists. At one time the rumour at the Tijuana HRC was that they were make a new pin everyday by the amount of pins being available in the mid to late 1990's. As you can see there are many different designs on the back of the pins.

Idea, GCI & local manufacturers produced large volumes of high quality pins until the cafe closed in 2008




Mike's Hard Rock Cafe World