For sale is a rare and unusual AMERICAN MISSION TO LEPERS PINBACK. This tiny lithograph pin features a dancing pig and the slogan “I Feed Pete”. Small pin is dented but still presentable. This pin measures 5/8 inches diameter. The pin probably dates to the 1950s. In 1965, this charity changed its name from ‘The Mission to Lepers’ to the Leprosy Mission to avoid the negative connotations of the word “leper”. The pin definitely predates 1965 and has a great back story. An interesting collectible pin back.
Pete the Pig is a fundraising campaign of the American Leprosy Missions, formerly the American Mission to Lepers, Inc., a Christian non-denominational organization founded by missionaries in 1906 to cure and care for people suffering from leprosy. The story of Pete began in 1913, when the family of a young farm boy in Kansas named Wilbur Chapman received a visitor from New York. “Uncle Will” was William M. Danner, an executive with the American Mission to Lepers, Inc. Upon his departure, Uncle Will gave Wilbur three silver-dollar coins. Wilbur was so inspired by Uncle Will’s gift that he decided to do his part to help others. Using his coins he bought a piglet that he named Pete. Once Pete was big and fat, Wilbur sold the pig for $25 and then donated the money to the American Leprosy Missions; at that time, a gift of $25 provided medical care for a leprosy patient for one full year. It turned out that other children wanted to help just like Wilbur, and the practice of saving coins in pig banks was born.