One year to go!


My Favourite Pin Story - Marco Maiani

Name: Marco Maiani

From: Firenze, Italy

How long have you been collecting? Since 1991

How many pins do you own? Maybe 10.000

Marco Maiani - pinsMy name's Marco Maiani, I live in Florence, Italy and I have collected pins since 1991. I started collecting pins after a holiday in France where I bought my first pin: a tourist pin from the city of Lyon. In 1992 I discovered Olympic pins on the occasion of the Games in Barcelona and Albertville and it was love at first sight! I became an avid pin collector and pin trader and I spent all my spare time looking for pins.

I knew a lot of new friends with my same hobby and I traded a lot of pins. I don't know exactly how many pins I have in my collection, surely more than 5,000 maybe 10,000, sincerely I lose count.

From 1999 to 2007 I wrote articles about pins for some Italian collecting magazines like Collezionare and Il mercatino del collezionista and on the occasion of the Olympic Games in Torino 2006 I was interviewed about pin collecting by the most important Italian media (Rai tv, Sky tv, La Gazzetta dello Sport, La Stampa, Sportweek, etc...).

At the end of 2007 I had some family problems and I reduced my determination to collect and trade pins. I never stopped looking for pins and upgrading my website but I had very little spare time to devote myself to pin collecting.

Now, after the London 2012 Olympic Games, I'm going back to my pin collection with the fever of the first years and I'm planning to renovate my website and to increase my pin trading. In my heart I have also a small dream: to catalogue all my pins and in the future open a small free museum about pins to raise money for charities.

It's hard to tell a story about a single pin. All the pins in my collection have their own stories, often behind every single pin traded there is a person with their friendship, their affection and their smile. Now I have dozens of friends all over the world and I need to thank these small pieces of metal called pins for this.

However, if I need to choose a single story I'd like to tell a story about a big cardboard box that I found at home coming back from work in 2002... Shery, a teacher and volunteer from Salt Lake City, saw my website and sent me a box with a lot of pins in the post, some pennants, plaques, gadgets and the official guides of the Salt lakes 2002 Winter Games. It was an unexpectedly surprise and at the same time the birth of a friendship.

Happy pin collecting and trading!

My Favourite Pin Story - Chalitha Bandarage

Name: Chalitha Bandarage

From: London

How long have you been collecting? Since August 2012 (since the London 2012 Paralympics Games)

How many pins do you own? 22

Chalitha Bandarage - pinsThe best experience of my life has to be the getting an opportunity to volunteer at the London 2012 Paralympics Games, although I am disappointed that I was not given an opportunity to work for Olympics. I was part of the Venue Entry Team Member (Security) and to be honest, I was unsure if I wanted to work in the security team when I was offered the place. However, once I started working in the Paralympics, I was having the best time of my life and I wish it is still ongoing. I met amazing people and made new friends for life and I am proud to be a part of this once in a life time opportunity.

Just before I started working at the Paralympics as a Games Maker, I had no clue about pin badge collection/trading, not to mention what a pin badge actually was. When I went for my final venue training at the Handball Arena, just a few weeks before the Paralympics was due to start, I was sitting beside a Medical Games Maker, who happened to be wearing a accreditation filled with pin badges, which caught my eyes. I started talking to her, asking what they were and she told me all about how she started collecting pin badges while she was volunteering at Olympics. I could see spark in her eyes as she was talking about her experience during the Olympics and pin badges. This had given me hopes to collect pin badges, once I started working for Paralympics, but my interest grew in to an addiction when I was given my first pin badge (999 pin badge) from a police officer in the Olympics Park.

I was over the moon and I ended up showing that to all my friends and family and I aimed myself to collect as much as I could before the Games ended.

As time went I got so addicted to pin badges so that I wondered all around the Park, going to all the stores asking if I can have a pin badge. The response I got from most stores were the same, that they finished giving out pin badges during the Olympics, which disappointed me, but I managed to collect 22 pin badges (I didn't expect I could collect that much). When I saw my pin badge collection, I wondered why I haven't collected before (before the Olympics) and I have decided to keep collecting in the future. It is my new hobby now. In fact, I have even thought of volunteering for Glasgow 2014 and maybe Rio 2016, in hope of collecting more pin badges.

When I heard that the Apple store was giving out pin badges for free, I went to the Apple store in the Westfield Shopping Centre in hope to collect a pin badge. When I reached there, I was told that they only give them out between 9am and 11am. Since I had to work on morning shifts (7am-2pm), I was feeling upset that I would not be able to get one. However, I saw my opportunity when I was assigned to work in the Stratford Gate entrance. When I got a 15 minute break, I asked my team leader if I could quickly go to the Westfield to collect a pin badge and he was more than happy. As he was also a pin badge collector, he asked me if I could get him a badge as well. I managed to go to the Apple store and get an iPad badge for myself but when I asked another one for my team leader, they refused to give me. They said they would only give out one to each person. Then I saw another Games Maker in the Apple store and I approached him and asked if he collected pin badges. He said he's not into pin badge collection and I asked him if he could get an Apple pin badge for my team leader, as a favour. He said he could but he will not do it because he just didn't want to, which shocked me, as he was talking rudely at me and I was expecting Games Makers to be friendly. I was upset as I could not get a pin badge for my team leader. I managed to get more apple pin badges next few days, but I was unable to find my team leader so that I could give one.

I proudly wore my pin badges, along with my Games Maker uniform to work till my last shift which attracted interesting conversations with fellow travellers on the ways and on the bus. My father is a weightlifter who participated in many Games, including SAF, Commonwealths and Asian Games in the past, where he managed to collect hundreds of pin badges. He's displayed them with pride in a safe box, and I have always wondered what was so special about them and now I know what it means to him. I wish I had the opportunity to work for the Olympics, so that I would have collected more pin badges. I still miss working in the Olympics and can't wait for the next opportunity to collect more pin badges. I had the best time as a Games Maker with so many everlasting memories. I can proudly say that...I MADE LONDON 2012...!!!

My Favourite Pin Story - Emma Townsend

Name: Emma Townsend

From: St Albans

How long have you been collecting? Since 2012 Olympics

How many pins do you own? 300

Emma Townsend - pinOur first visit to the Olympics was to see HB play basketball. I didn't collect Olympic pins before. We visited Cadburys to buy some chocolate and swapped a Games Maker pin for a Cadburys pin. I saw a lovely sparkly purple Cadburys London skyline pin, but no one would trade with me.

I didn't realise it, but my father spoke to one of the managers there about it. To my surprise a letter arrived addressed to me. When I opened it, the special pin dropped out. I don't know the managers name, but I would like to thank him for sending me the pin.

My Favourite Pin Story - Sue Wright

Name: Sue Wright

From: Sevenoaks

How long have you been collecting? Since August 2012

How many pins do you own? 93

Sue Wright - pins2012 is the year I became a COW PAT!

Let me explain......

COW = childless orphaned widow.
PAT = pin addicted twin.

My COW status originated in 1975 on deciding to forfeit having children after discovering my husband was at risk for Huntington's Disease, the fatal hereditary brain disease that finally claimed his life in 2006, and was confirmed in April 2012 with the death of my mother having already lost my father in 1975. The whole process took over 35 years.

My PAT status originated on my birthday, 29th August 2012 when my identical twin and I attended the Opening Ceremony of the Paralympics dressed identically for the first time in decades. Our appearance attracted attention from the moment we left our hotel room wearing full length black & white dresses topped with large Paralympic scarves held together with my first Olympic/Paralympic pins. We had the good fortune to attend five days of Paralympic sport, always dressed identically, and the Heroes Parade where our over-the-top patriotic outfits also attracted considerable attention and even several requests to be photographed. During this period and since, I've developed a compulsion to collect pins thereby becoming a PAT. The whole process took less than 35 days!

Becoming a COW PAT has given my life new meaning and purpose, enabled me to learn a huge amount more about the Olympics and Paralympics, and introduced me to numerous inspirational and wonderfully generous people I would never otherwise have encountered.

My favourite pin story therefore has to the one of becoming a COW PAT in London in 2012.

My Favourite Pin Story - Ivy

Name: Ivy

From: London

How long have you been collecting? 3 months

How many pins do you own? 50

Ivy -_pinsMy Olympic Pin collection started on my 2nd shift as a Games Makers, working at the volleyball venue Earl's Court. While manning the security lanes, a guy wearing a USA T-shift arrived, putting his backpack down ready to walk through the x-ray. Suddenly, he stopped and said "You guys are doing a great job. Thank you very much" and he handed me a pin from his backpack! I did not know how to react as it's so unexpected. It was a USA volleyball pin! I was so surprised, not only had he bothered to stop to say thank you but also given me my very first Olympic pin! He had made my day, especially after a very long shift.

I got given a couple more throughout my shifts by grateful spectators for our contributions to the Games. I also remember a lady came through security and I noted she was wearing a T-shift with "Rio 2016" on it. So I asked if she's from Brazil, and she said she's here to learn from the London 2012 for Rio 2016. I had a little chat with her and casually asked if she happen to have a Rio pin. She said she already handed all of them out but then, she quickly ran away and got a pin from her friend!

During the Olympics, I didn't have a chance to visit the Olympic Park. But I was lucky  to get tickets for the Paralympics. I was amazed when I saw those veteran pin traders, proudly showing off their collections on the table. It was very interesting to hear all their stories of how and when they had started to become a pin trader and some have even been to over 10 Olympics!

These guys were all there to make friends. For instance, I had eyes on the Brunei, Taiwan and Hong Kong pins, but I knew it was not going to be an easy trade and I've only got the relatively ordinary Union Jack 2012 pins to trade. However, after a little chat and telling them why I was interested in the pin, they were all willing to trade with me as I had a little story to tell and the pin actually meant something to me! The whole experience has opened me up to the world of trading, and I look forward to trading at future Olympics!

My Favourite Pin Story - Oliver O'Brien

Name: Oliver O'Brien

From: London

How long have you been collecting? Since London 2012

How many pins do you own? 20

Oliver OBrien_-_pinsI started my Games Maker shifts at London 2012 with only a passing awareness of pin trading. But I was working in the Media Centre, and it was hard to escape the ever increasingly gleaming lanyards of the squaddies, G4S guards and media, the latter in particular who came to London armed with sets of pins. I still wasn't going to take part, until I got my first of the four Games Maker pins - and a colleague donated an Apple "Union Flag" pin. That was all it took to get hooked.

Lunchtime breaks in the Olympic Park involved travelling to the main pin trading areas and a couple of obliging sponsor pin hand-outs - all thoughts of eating lunch forgotten. I developed a quirky strategy, focusing on pins relating to where I worked and who I worked with - which meant more dedicated collectors acquired the sought-after NOC pins from me on the cheap!

Some people took it way too seriously - such as the guy hoarding multiple BBC Gold pins which were very rare. Apparently, only the Chinese CCTV pins were worth more to him, as he was thinking of pins in financial terms. Not really the spirit.

Anyway my favourite story was on my last day in the Park. It was a busy final afternoon, with the media rushing from the Media Centre to the Olympic Stadium for the Closing Ceremony. No time for me to watch TV, it was all hands on deck. But finally my team leader came over, and to my surprise let me go early, so I could run across the Park, grab a train, and watch most the ceremony at home. One problem - the thousands of athletes streaming in a giant line across the Park, into the stadium, were a physical obstacle between me and the railway station.

Eventually I managed to squeeze between two groups of nations, but not before one particularly joyous nation had been particularly happy to smile at me, give me a wave and pose for my camera. They were only too happy to give me what is my most treasured badge of all - the Uganda NOC. I wasn't sure why they were so happy. It was only when I got home, and caught up with the day's events, that I realised that Uganda had just won its first gold medal of the Games, on the very final event - the men's marathon. What a great way for them - and for me - to finish an amazing two weeks.

My Favourite Pin Story - Janet W Grissom

Name: Janet W Grissom

From: Salt Lake City

How long have you been collecting? 10 years

How many pins do you own? 10,000

Janet W_Grissom_-_pinI was new to pin collecting. I was a volunteer during the Salt Lake Olympics and was working inside the Olympic Village. Three or four athletes from the Russian team saw me and they started to smile and laugh and point at me.

I didn't speak a world of Russian and they didn't speak a word of English. I wondered if I had my shirt inside out. Finally I realised they were pointing at the pins on the lanyard I was wearing. They started digging in their bags and pulled out these old aluminium Olympic pins that looked homemade. I didn't know it at the time but they were the pins that came from Russia in the 1980s. We traded about 10 pins and it was like communication without words through pins. We all were laughing and having fun.

I still have these pins in my collection and this experience was one of those rare moments where I realised what the Olympics was all about communication between different cultures and it occurred through the trading of pins. Ten years later I am still trading.

My Favourite Pin Story - Marcus

Name: Marcus

From: London

How long have you been collecting? 3 months

How many pins do you own? 100+

Marcus -_pinsI was not interested in pin collecting until London 2012 was here. I live nearby the Olympic Park and work at Westfield Stratford City.

From the first time I went to the London 2012 shop in the Olympic Park and bought some venue pins I have been crazy and can't control myself in collecting more pins.

I went in the Olympic park nearly every day with the day pass I bought online, and I would just go into the megastore to buy more pins to complete my collections. Every £100 you spent, you got a free venue collection rucksack. I have 5 rucksacks, so imagine how many pins I have now.

I nearly spent £1000 and own 300+ pins now. I am still looking for pin sest now and some rare pins.

My Favourite Pin Story - Kapi

Name: Kapi

From: Watford

How long have you been collecting? A few years

How many pins do you own? Less than 10

Kapi -_pinI used to have more than 10. I kept them pinned to a baseball hat which used to hang in my wardrobe. One day my mum decided to clear out my wardrobe when I was away and gave away my baseball cap to Oxfam!!!! I had to start collecting all over again. I now keep them in a pretty box which she will NOT give away to Oxfam!

My Favourite Pin Story - Trevor Moss

Name: Trevor Moss

From: Hartley, Longfield

How long have you been collecting? 10 years

How many pins do you own? 200

Trevor Moss_-_pinsI was travelling on the London Underground during the Paralympic Games on my way to the London Coca-Cola Pin Trading centre in Hyde Park.

The tube was very crowded and I spotted three US Paralympians in their country tracksuits further down the carriage. I searched in my bag and found a 2012 USA flag logo pin and nudged the guy next to me, who in turn nudged his neighbour, who then brought the athletes attention to me.

Once I had their attention I held up the pin and gestured "do you want to trade?" passing them the pin. They gave the thumbs up and passed back a beautiful USA Team Hartford Foundation pin. They asked across the crowd where was I getting off? And they too were alighting at Green Park station.

We then traded 3 pins on the platform of Green Park. Very special pins to me that are to keep and not to trade.

My Favourite Pin Story - Alexander Townsend

Name: Alexander Townsend

From: St Albans

How long have you been collecting? Since London 2012 Olympics

How many pins do you own? 11

Alexander Townsend - pinsI went to the Olympics 5 times with my family and we had lots of fun trading pins. I didn't realise how big it was.

My favourite time was when I asked John Register, a Paralympian if he had any pins to trade. Instead of that, he placed the medal he won at the Sydney Games round my neck and I had my photo taken with him.

He made me feel very special and it was nice how he took the time to talk to me.

My Favourite Pin Story - Claire Thorn

Name: Claire Thorn

From: Sutton Coldfield

How long have you been collecting? 2 years

How many pins do you own? 20

Claire Thorn_-_pinI was a Games Maker on the modern pentathlon team. On the day before the men's competition they were training over at Greenwich Park. The Ukrainian athlete wanted to return to the Athletes Village prior to the shuttle bus and so as I was going that way I escorted him and his coach via tube to the Village.

It was great to chat during the journey and they were very grateful. When we got back to the Village I was handed a Ukrainian Olympic modern pentathlon pin badge. One which I will treasure forever.

My Favourite Pin Story - Charlotte Elton

Name: Charlotte Elton

From: London

How long have you been collecting? 1 year

How many pins do you own? 45

Charlotte Elton_-_pinBesides the Mo-bot that has driven the country bananas, pin trading has to be the non-athletic highlight of my Olympic experience. Working at the Olympic Tennis Event at Wimbledon, I had supplies of tennis pins to make the continent of Africa happy. Seeing pin collections of Laura Robson and Serena Williams grow by the minute I, too, became slightly obsessed to commence a collection of my own, to put it mildly.

Being in daily contact with players of all participating tennis countries, the number grew steadily starting with a Croatia pin, followed by Israel, Serbia, and Brazil. Initially I was the laughing stock of my team but before you could say Andy's your uncle, my manager was competing alongside us to be the proud owner of the most exotic and unique country pins shining from her lanyard. It became a serious business, the fun had long gone.

We no longer made eye-contact; our eyes were cast purely on the lanyard and the golden treasures dangling of it.

My two pin-exchanging highlights were:
1) A 20-minute hard bargaining session with Venus Williams which boiled down to trading my Moscow 1980's pin for her Moldova pin and my stunning colourful Slovakia pin for her exotic unique Puerto Rico pin. It was tough but we both managed to let go.

2) The most glorious and exclusive pin in tennis would be Roger Federer's own pin (RF) of which only about 60 exist. Whoever had one of those pinned to their lanyard was considered as holy. 'How on earth...' would not be an unusual reaction after spotting an RF pin on a mere mortal's lanyard. After a week of sweat, blood and tears, Roger's agent magically agreed to swap an RF for my Angola pin. Thank you dearly Mr Angola-man that I passed (and stopped) in the hallway of the Royal Box at Wimbledon, your pin may have just giving me the ultimate golden pin status.

My Favourite Pin Story - Anthony Townsend

Name: Anthony Townsend

From: St Albans

How long have you been collected? Since London Olympics

How many pins do you own? Approx 400

Anthony Townsend_-_pinI never realised that this craze existed before the London 2012 Olympics. It has been starring me in the face every time I have visited St Albans market. John and Dan from Pins and Things have been selling me toys for my kids for years from Star Wars figures to football cards. I saw their pin badges but thought no more of it.

Then it all changed with our first visit to the Olympics to see the basketball. We came across the Coca-Cola Pin Trading Centre. We talked to a couple of guys inside and they opened our eyes. Imagine, one had even traded a pin with a US president! What sealed my fate was a tap on the shoulder outside. "Didn't we go to the same school?" I bumped into someone who went to the same school as me who turned out to be an Official Pin trader.

That day and our next six visits included some fantastic conversations with people from all over the world including athletes, Games Makers, staff and visitors about all sorts of things. What brought us together was a mutual liking of the Olympics and pin badges. It gave my kids the confidence to approach others to exchange pins and showed us all the generosity and excitement of people at the Games and of the Olympic Movement. The universal language of pins shows no boundaries.

I think my favourite moment was when we bumped in to a group of Spanish Paralympians who showered the kids with Starfish Pins. Their delight when we insisted that they take pins off our lanyards in exchange beamed over their faces. I will remember every single exchange for the rest of my life.

My Favourite Pin Story - Alan Perry

Name: Alan Perry

From: Eden Prairie, MN

How long have you been collecting? 18 years

How many pins do you own? 2000+

Alan Perry_-_pinMy wife and I were attending the men's single's gold medal tennis match on Centre Court at Wimbledon. During a break, I hurried down to the men's restroom so not to miss any of the tennis action. To my dismay, there was a long line extending out from the men's restroom entrance. Mumbling to myself, I got into the line and waited. As we slowly marched forward, I casually noticed the man behind me was wearing a shirt and badge with the NBC-TV (US) logo on it. Being a pin enthusiast and knowing NBC was the US broadcaster, I asked him if, by any chance, he had any pins to trade.

"Sorry, I don't have any to trade," he said, as I noticed he wasn't wearing any pins. As I was about to politely thank him anyway, he said, "But I do have one that I'll give you."

Expecting to see a generic NBC pin, he surprised me when he pulled a large, colourful pin out of his pocket. It was a beautiful pin of the London Bridge with a double-decker bus that moved from one end of the bridge to the other along a slide, and, of course, the NBC logo and Olympic rings. I told him it was a fantastic pin! He beamed with pride and in the midst of a large smile said, "Thank you...I designed it!"

So, here I was... at Wimbledon... near Centre Court... during the London Olympics... watching the men's single's gold medal game..., receiving a free NBC Olympic pin... from the very person who had designed it... What could be better!