For an Olympics-crazy pinhead Christmas often comes twice a year!
Saturday, 07 July 2012
For a pin collector the Olympics is truly like Christmas. The night before arriving at a Games, thoughts of pins just keep floating around in one's head like the vision of sugar plums. Ah, the sights and the sounds of a pin trade being consummated!
The glitter of silver and gold pins festooned on hats, scarves and lapels brings a pin collector back to their childhood. It is like a mobile toy store with a cornucopia of treasures just in reach around every corner and the currency is not pounds, dollars, euros or rupees. No, the currency for this 'holiday season' is pins.
Like a moth to a flame the urge is undeniable. The need for pinheads to gather in tight quarters to exchange tiny metal treasures risking pricked fingers is as though it is imprinted into our genetic coding. It's like a worldwide family reunion with members of our gene pool we never knew existed. The need is there and cannot be denied. Some collectors feel if you don't attend an Olympics to trade pins it is tantamount to disownment or expulsion from our odd collective family. There are just a few rules of this extended family: treat everyone fairly and the more the merrier.
During this Olympic pin-crazed festival there are times when those who might normally be categorised as a Grinch have epiphanies. I have witnessed curmudgeonly old men wilt when a child, new to the hobby, approaches them with a glint in their eyes, amazed by the pins laid out before them.
Yes, the anticipation of the hunt for that perfect pin and finally finding it is truly like coming down the stairs on Christmas morning and seeing all the gifts under the tree.
Pin collecting has moved on since the old days. With the advent of the internet, "window shopping" can be done from a PC or handheld device by visiting eBay or websites dedicated to pins – Olympic or otherwise.
A pin catalogue is like a bible for the pinheads. For Los Angeles 1984 some entrepreneurial type produced the first ever pin guide with the co-operation and assistance of most corporate sponsors. I was amazed at the sheer variety of pins produced for those Games. Without a guide there was no way of knowing how many pins actually existed. Since 1984, guides have provided collectors with detailed descriptions and images of corporate and retail Olympic pins.
For Vancouver 2010, collector and good friend Thomas Hall from Canada produced, in my opinion, the quintessential guide for an Olympic Games. It has over 170 pages with some 2,600 full-colour photos of every pin produced along with information and approximate production quantities. Tom's personal 2010 and London 2012 collection is well worth checking out, too.
Fortunately, London 2012 has a comprehensive pins website which details every item produced for this summer's Games and includes the latest pin news, a messaging board, blog and full checklist. It's the proverbial Olympic Christmas store and the best pin site I have visited.
I had previously mentioned categories of pin. Many collectors have their own niches and desires. For instance, London 2012 will have pins covering corporate, retail, internal, National Olympic Committee, sports federations and associations, Government, bid, bridge, Torch Relay, venue, security and media.
So here's a breakdown and explanation of the different categories of pin that might help you map out your collection:
Corporate: Corporate pins are produced by corporate partners (pictured below) affiliated to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) or an Organising Committee. For London 2012, the types of corporate pin available can be divided into: Worldwide Olympic Partners, London 2012 Official Olympic Partners, London 2012 Official Olympic Supporters, and London 2012 Official Olympic Providers and Suppliers.
Most of the corporations with official ties to London 2012 have produced already pins although some may not produce any at all – check out the London 2012 pins website for the most up-to-date list. Corporate pins also come with different themes, some companies just displaying both their and the Olympic-themed logos while others have commissioned countdown pins or created puzzle pins sets.
Each corporation has its own strategy for dealing with pins. Some corporations occasionally send out pins to those who request them while others, unfortunately, do not play ball. But with the rise in interest for pins, all the affiliated corporations listed on the London 2012 website are becoming inundated with requests.
Incidentally, a friend of mine was told by a corporation that, following Vancouver 2010, it had received over 17,000 requests for pins – even though it produced only 2,000. He was also told it would take approximately five minutes to respond to a single request – and cost over $150,000 (£96,200/€119,000) to cover all of them. On this basis, the company spokesman added, she could only imagine what the demand would be for a London 2012 corporate pin...
Retail: Retail pins are found in many such selected outlets, and vary in quantity from 500 to several thousand. There is a pin to suit all fancies and genres, and come in different shapes, sizes, varieties – there are Official Mascot, countdown and landmark pins, and different generic logo to puzzle pins. There may be well over 50 different sub-sets produced for London 2012. London 2012 will have 2012 different retail pins produced. To discover the different styles and themes available, simply check out a retailer or visit the London 2012 pins website. Prices may vary depending on production quality.
Internal: Internal pins (pictured below) are produced for the Organising Committee. As the description suggests they are internal and are given only to employees and Games volunteers, and not for public distribution. It's no surprise, therefore, that these pins are highly sought after and valued by collectors.
National Olympic Committee (NOC): NOC pins are divided into three different distinctive categories: dated with the Games logo; word-marked (for example, just London 2012); and undated.
The first category is, in most collectors' minds, the most desirable because you can immediately associate that pin with a specific Games. The pins are elaborately designed and usually given to athletes from those competing countries with large-size teams; that said, these 'larger' teams also tend to produce numerous different pins for each Games. For example, the United States produced over 30 pins for Vancouver 2010 whereas Peru only produced one, simply featuring the Vancouver logo.
In terms of the undated pins, some countries simply use the same NOC pin for each Games for cost-saving reasons; even so, those pins from NOCs with relatively small-size teams tend to be quite rare, even if they are undated.
An NOC pin is only given to that country's athletes and their families, dignitaries, special guests and support staff. They can be very hard to come by on a good day, let alone a bad day, of trading, so keep your eyes peeled.
Sports federations and associations: Like those from NOCs, federation or association pins can be either dated just sport the word mark for a specific Games. And, to collectors, they are just as desirable as the NOC versions.
Government: These pins are produced for the different tiers of Government – from central to local – involved in supporting a Games. They are, for the most part, only available to the general public during special events hosted in conjunction with an Organising Committee. Keep your eyes peeled because these pins are very difficult to come by.
Bid: Each bid city for a specific Games creates bid pins. For instance, the London Bid Committee for 2012 produced eight versions, Paris 10 and New York almost 80, and these used for marketing purposes during the bid process. Bid pins are hard to come by during this process but more readily available afterwards. No collection for any Games is complete without at least one bid pin – and preferably one from the winning city.
Bridge: Bridge pins commemorate the passing of the baton from one Olympic Games to the next. Typical pins will feature the logos of a previous Games with the current competition or a current Games with a future one. For the most part these pins are usually of the retail vaiety, but in a few rare occasions will be produced by a Bid or Organising Committee – and so much sought after for one's collection.
Torch Relay: There are three classifications here: retail, corporate and internal. Torch Relay pins (pictured above) sold at retail outlets are rather plentiful. Corporate pins can be found along the route as they pass through the countryside, cities, towns and hamlets and are produced as marketing tools to advertise a company's involvement with the relay; unlike their retail cousins, they are difficult to acquire during relay itself and usually surface only after the Olympic Torch has passed through a specific location. Internal pins can only be found during each leg of the relay and are worn by those in the relay team or by Torchbearers; as befitting their type they are difficult to seek out. Coca-Cola has been a major sponsor of the last few Olympics and no collection would be complete without its relay pins.
Venue: Venue pins are usually only sold at a retail location or the venue where a particular sport is being contested and thus get snapped up quickly by the public – so keep an eye out for these beauties. I know from experience that it is difficult to complete a venue set due mainly to the sheer number of different locations involved.
Security: Security is a large part of any Games – hence the production of such pins. These pins can cover the following types of security service: fire, ambulance and medical services as well as corporate (or private). Security will, by far, be one of the toughest pins to collect during the Games. Representatives are usually given only a small number of their respective international, national or local-level security force's pin and tend to trade them with their counterparts.
Media: Media pins will be a very hot item during the 2012 Games. Media from all over the world will flock to London and many media organisations – including us here at insidethegames (pictured below) – will produce anything from a single to multiple styles of media pin. To date, United States-based NBC network has created over 30 with many more to come before the Games. Most media outlets do not send out any pins before the Games and thus they are hard to acquire. Not all media pins will depict the London 2012 logo – some may simply say London 2012, London or just 2012. In the main you can only acquire these pins from those members of the media who attend the Games.
If all this has whetted your appetite for Olympic pin collecting, take a look at the London 2012 pin website and start compiling a wish-list.
Just think: everyone has at least one Olympic pin in a drawer somewhere. Come the end of London 2012, make sure your cabinet contains one – or maybe more – too! Always remember to trade fairly and never take advantage of younger collectors or those new to the hobby.
Remember: during every Olympic year Christmas comes twice!
To find out more about pin collecting visit insidegamescollecting by clicking here.
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Do you have a favourite pin story you'd like to share? Then click here to enter insidethegames' exclusive pin collectors' competition – brought to you in partnership with Honav UK, the official manufacturer of pins for London 2012 – and you could win a collection of striking, limited edition London 2012 pins.
Andrew Kollo is a pin collector based in Canada. Check out his website by clicking here.
Honav is the official manufacturer of pins for London 2012