Lauren Mattera: A day in the life of a pin trader
Sunday, 10 June 2012
But my colleague Dale and I weren't here to witness the Championship Playoff final, we were walking into the phenomenon that is "the pin world" at the Unofficial London 2012 pin meet. We were easily recognised in our green insidethegames polo shirts, and at once warmed by the friendly ambiance of Paul and the fellow members.
I was first approached by Vic – an enthusiast who told me how he had travelled a staggeringly long journey from the Midlands, filled with delays and mishaps to be at the pin meeting. This showed me the distances people were willing to travel and how dedicated the pin societies were.
As we exchanged stories of how long we had been pin collecting, I revealed that I was making my debut in the pin world, and with this Vic very kindly took me under his wing and began to tell me about the dos and don'ts of pin trading, and what I should be looking out for when trading our insidethegames puzzle pin. I was heartened by the time he spent sharing the tricks of the trade with me and how knowledgeable he was.
I meandered in and out admiring everybody's collections, fascinated at how each person had presented their pins, categories ranging from sponsored, to LOCOG 2012 pins, USA pins, to Coca-Cola pins, and I spent some time talking to people individually to hear their stories. It was interesting to find out that in many cases, the pins laid out on the tables were only a small percentage of their collections, as each collector had many more prized pins at home hidden under a veil of secrecy.
I went in for my first trade with James, who works for BP, one of the official partners of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. He had some great sponsored pins on show, ones in which he had managed to get his hands on through working for the company. I chose a BP Team GB pin, and we exchanged and shook hands with true pin trading etiquette. I walked away feeling very patriotic and pleased – a fair trade.
Suddenly a wave of noise came from the West Ham football fans in the room next door, emotions were running high, and so as the day went on the football created a turbulent atmosphere where the excitement of meeting new friends and trading our pins really flourished.
Dale and I spoke to Mohan, a collector who I instantly felt on the same wave length with because he told me that "collecting pins is like collecting shoes!" While it was a little sexist I knew what he meant and could definitely relate to the feeling of having a pair of shoes and wanting more! If only I could have thousands of pairs of shoes like these guys have pins I would be a happier girl. But nevertheless I could see how collecting pins becomes almost like an addiction.
He began collecting while working in Sydney during the 2000 Olympic Games, and it was the style and quality of the pins produced in Sydney which interested him. The curious thing is that while musing over Mohan's pins, Dale and I were both unwittingly drawn to his Sydney ones, and it was intriguing to understand just a little of what Mohan must have felt on that warm Sydney summer's day 12 years earlier. After much negotiation, a deal was struck by Dale – very impressed with himself for managing to bag a "2 for 1" agreement with Mohan for our part one puzzle pin.
This made up for our rookie mistake in the beginning – when Dale and I discovered we had been fooled by a pin trader! Dale had also been talked into trading our puzzle pin with James, oblivious to the fact I had already made this trade 10 minutes earlier, and had picked out the exact the same BP Team GB pin. A mistake we can only put down to being amateurs!
After meeting many new members during the day I was surprised by the diverse careers each of them had. There was Anthony, who had begun pin collecting following his previous career as a sports journalist, and was very much an avid collector having over 10,000 pins! Then there was Anthony R, a torchbearer for this year's London 2012 Olympics, who had been given a pin for volunteering back in the Commonwealth Games in Manchester 2002. Of course Mohan took a shine to the pins at the Sydney 2000 Games, and Mark Kass, one of our blog writers, an entrepreneur and director of a small East London business support agency, who had attended a pin meeting and caught the bug for it. It's remarkable to see the different paths in life that people follow, and nonetheless they all lead to the craze that is pin collecting. Whether it was IT, logistics, or retired, somehow this unusual love had brought together the most diverse collection of people, bringing out the best in human nature.
One of my particular highlights of the day was meeting Cherry from Honav as we have a new partnership with the company, it was nice to talk to her about the promotion of our "My Favourite Pin Story" competition, and we had a chance to see the Honav retail pins which are being released soon. To learn about the manufacturing element to the pin collecting process was another side to the story I had overlooked. She was genuinely impressed by our insidethegames puzzle pin, and with this I felt a thoroughly rewarding feeling because so much work had gone into designing and producing our pins!
In amongst the twinkling silver and golden pins was a small film crew recording the day's events. Photographing and interviewing Paul and fellow members about what it is that they love about pins. Although Dale and I first cringed at the thought of being filmed for television, we soon realised that it would actually be a great documentary to be involved in. Their aim was to highlight the multitude of different and exciting elements that go hand in hand with the Olympic Games. I think something that is special about pin collecting this year is that the passion is perhaps driven by the fact the country is hosting the Olympic Games, which brings home the Olympic flame, and with it even greater meaning to every pin they collect.
A great pin, one which was unveiled like a schoolboy in the playground holding a rare Merlin Premier League football sticker, was just a tiny, gold, torch-bearing pin that David Beckham was seen wearing as he brought the torch home from Athens a day earlier. Although my first impression was wow that's a small pin, the rarity surrounding this pin was evident. Along with this, something that made me realise the hype of rare pins was the fact I had only just the day before published a story about the Coca-Cola Olympic Torch Relay pins being released, and then there they were at the event ready for trading!
I chose my favourite pin, one from the LOCOG 2012 collection – a beefeater. I won't lie, I chose this pin from the many which were on display on the day because I thought the beefeater was really cute, and for no other reason. I was later told that this pin was manufactured in America and not very often seen in the UK – I'm a pinhead and I don't even know it – Vic should be proud. Liking all things sentimental, I'm very excited by the thought that in many years to come I will pull this pin out of my memory box at home and it will take me back to this day, an event that was so different to me and different to anything I have been to before. I think this is what is so unique and endearing about pin collecting, and I would not have realised unless attending this pin meeting.
I entered as a novice and left a heart warmed pinhead, a thoroughly enjoyable day.
To find out more about pin collecting visit insidegamescollecting by clicking here.
Or you can join our dedicated collecting facebook page by clicking here.
To enter "My Favourite Pin Story" click here.
Lauren Mattera is a reporter for insidethegames
Honav is the official manufacturer of pins for London 2012