By Dan Campana
Like any good investigator, Sycamore Police Detective Sgt. Jeff Wig enjoys the hunt and the satisfaction of a successful search.
However, that isn’t limited to just his police work. Wig, an 18-year-veteran of the agency in DeKalb County, is an avid collector of police patches and memorabilia. His interest runs so deep that he picked up the bill for pumpkin-themed patches last year so Sycamore officers – with the department’s approval – could wear them during the city’s annual Pumpkin Festival.
Wig’s love of collecting has him working to bring law enforcement collectors just like him together in November for the first-ever Northern Illinois Law Enforcement, Fire and EMS Patch and Memorabilia Show.
“It has been some time since a show, outside of trading at conferences, has happened in Illinois,” Wig said. “I have gone to the MABAS 19 show, but that is largely fire related.”
It doesn’t take much online searching to recognize patches are certainly a popular, and collectible, item. While many are available for purchase on sites such as eBay, it’s a very personal hobby for others. One site, thepatchcollector.com, features the collection of a man who credits his father, a retired detective in New Jersey, for inspiring his love of police patches. The Patch Collector also serves as a trading post and community connection for collectors.
Wig believes patches have a wide appeal that stretches beyond the law enforcement to the civilian side.
“Many people have a natural interest in police work and can identify with the symbols which identify us,” he explained. “Also, patches, and the like, are a type of historical record. Many patches are a form of art.”
In answer to the magic question about the size of his collection, Wig said he has patches from 900 different Illinois agencies – not counting variations – out of the roughly 1,100 active and defunct law enforcement-related departments across the state. In addition, he has “sizable collections” from New Mexico and Florida. And, Wig also collects and trades challenge coins.
“I recently finished doing two different state shape collections and am framing them like a map of the U.S.,” Wig said, noting he has designed three coins for Sycamore police.
Looking ahead to the show on Nov. 4, Wig hopes its success will mean good things for police memorabilia collectors.
“I want to see this hobby continue on and grow. Part of the fun is the connections you make and the people you meet along the way,” Wig said.
The show is scheduled for The Regale Center in Sycamore. Admission is $5, with children 12 and under getting in for free. Dealer tables are $20.
For more information or to book a table, contact Wig at 815-600-4016 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.