It may be the pin that we're collecting and the front of the pin that attracts us, but it's the back of the pin and the card it comes on that provide information and help us decide how authentic it is. A London 2012 pin has a range of tell-tale signs that help identify it as genuine.

The Pin Back

The pins issued by LOCOG have 2 key features which identify them as official pins. These are the distinctive pattern on the back and the backstamp or information panel.

Image of pin back showing repeating pattern and information box

The repeating  pattern is called 'The Beiwen Pattern' (pronounced 'Bay-won') and appears as an asymmetric triangular shape which seems to have at least two varieties. There is no significance to the direction of the pattern and both are genuine.

Close up detail of Pattern 1 Close up detail of Pattern 2
Pattern 1
Short left side and long right side
Pattern 2
Long left side and short right side

The pattern on the back of each pin is engraved so you can feel the ridges. All of the commemorative pins issued to date (June 2009) and some of the partner pins have this pattern.

The backstamp is also engraved and takes the form of a rectangular border with rounded corners with either 2 or 4 lines of information. 

Close up detail of information box

Pins 1 - 5 have two lines of information

  • A number in the form '2012-n' where n is the pin number
  • (R)(C) LOCOG 2008, where the Registered and Copyright symbols indicate that the image on the pin is owned by LOCOG.
The pins from 7 onwards and the more recent partner pins have 4 lines of information
  •  The '2012-n' number
  • '<= nnnnn', where nnnnn is the edition size, so <=10000 indicates this pin is from a limited edition size of 10,000
  • TM (C) LOCOG 2008, indicating that the logo on the pin is a trademark and copyright of LOCOG
  • 'Honav' indicating the manufacturer.

Note that pin 11 actually has the third line as (R)(C) LOCOG 2008, not TM

This information is correct at June 2009 but may become out of date as more pins are released.

Some potentially unofficial (fake) pins may have these markings in some form or another, so their presence does not, in itself, prove the pin is genuine. Look at the quality of the engraving, does the pattern look correct, is all the information there?

In August 2010, a new form of pin back appeared. Rather than being engraved, the pin back has been printed. The Beiwen pattern and the information box are still there, but the whole back is printed with black ink rather than being engraved. This back has been used on printed rather than enamelled pins.

Example of printed back

The Backing Card

The retail pins are sold on a backing card. Not only does this allow the pin to be displayed at the point of sale, but also carries some standard elements:

On the front (of the original cards)

  • Olympic and Paralympic logos
  • a message about the retail pins explaining that the Games will be issuing 2,012 pins covering everything "from culture to sport, from the environment to education",

On the back (of the original cards)

  • a barcode for stock control / pricing,
  • manufacturer address details,
  • 'manufactured under licence' wording,
  • 'beware of the sharp point' warning.
  • recycling information
  • a holographic sticker with a number printed on it. This identifies that the pin is a genuine piece of London 2012 merchandise. Every souvenir that comes out of the Games shoud have this sticker, be it pins, stamps, coins etc. Even the passes for the Visa Party last August had stickers on them,
  • on the first pins issued, the card contained a printed number. This indicated the specific pin number within the limited edition, presumably it is easier and therefore cheaper to print the number on the packaging rather than engrave it on the pin. These numbers only appear on early 2012 pins and are printed on the card irrespective of whether the pin is from a limited edition or not. It was thought that this printed number would enhance 'collectibility'. Presumably production costs prevented this number being printed on later backing cards.

There have been many version of the backing cards and the version numbers are referred to in the 'Commemorative' listings in the catalogue.

Version 1 - First Used: August 2008

50mm x 89mm
Double layer of card folded with slot/flap connection
No plastic bag
Available in pink, orange, blue, green and white

  • Logos stick proud of the card (and are therefore easily bent in storage)
Version 2 - First Used: July 2009

50mm x 119mm
Double layer of card folded with slot/flap connection
No plastic bag
Available in white

  • Hologram sticker has moved from back of card (v1) to front of card
Version 3 - First Used: August 2010

50mm x 119mm
Double layer of card folded with slot/flap connection
No plastic bag
Available in white/pink/green branding

  • Cards branded to match the new type of packaging available since April 2010 with items such as magnets and keyrings. The new cards present a more cohesive impression of London 2012 merchandise.
  • Hologram moved back onto the reverse of the card
  • Paralympic Games logo printed on the front now has 'Paralympic Games' printed underneath it.
  • Front of the card contains the same text relating to issuing 2,012 pins, but now the tagline 'Wear your pin with pride' has been added
  • On the reverse of the card, the size of the bar code has been reduced to make way for a larger 'Recycling' panel and the web address for the online shop has been provided
  • Addition of a sentence which states that the purchase of the pin supports the Games.
Version 4 - First Used: September 2010

50mm x 119mm
Double layer of card folded with slot/flap connection
No plastic bag
Available in mascot branding

  • Cards are branded with the colours of the mascots Wenlock and Mandeville. I'm defining these as V4a (Wenlock) and V4b (Mandeville)
  • Cards contain the mascots' personal logo
  • The front of each card has the asymmetric London 2012 shapes in colours appropriate to each mascot and the relevent Games logo
  • Addition of a web address for the mascots
  • Addition of the tag line 'Join me on my journey'
  • Previous mascot pins issued on v2 and v3 cards
Version 5 - First Used: March 2011

43mm x 90mm
Single layer of card
Supplied in plastic bag
Various colours

  • Cards are branded with pictures relevant to the theme of the pin. I'm defining these as V5a (Wenlock) and V5b (Mandeville)
  • The front of each card has a background drawing which compliments the mascot uniform
  • The description of the pin is printed on the front of the card
  • Logo is appropriate to the mascot rather than dual logos on each card
  • A paragraph from each mascot is printed on the reverse of the card describing how they came to wear the uniform