What is pin trading?
Pin trading is the art of buying or swapping official metal lapel badges produced to commemorate each Olympic and Paralympic Games. It’s also become a social event, where veteran traders look out for familiar faces and new ones make friends – pins are often deemed to be tokens of friendship and gratitude.
The very first Olympic pin badges – actually cardboard disks – were originally designed as colourful badges to identify athletes and officials at the first modern Olympic Games, Athens 1896. Pins were not officially sold as souvenirs until 1912, and by 1984 pin trading centres were drawing big crowds at the Games.
London 2012 pins
There are 2,012 pin designs for London 2012, and each pin tells a story. Examples include limited edition pins of the day for each day of the Games, Olympic countdown pins from 5 years to go all the way to one day to go, the icon series which brings out the best of Britain including post boxes and kilts, and pins of the much-loved London 2012 mascots Wenlock and Mandeville.
Trading tales on the Olympic Park
By Day 7 of the Games, the Coca-Cola Pin Trading Centre on the Olympic Park is already buzzing with activity. Anthony Drexler from London explains how he got into pins: 'I was working at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games and got given a pin; then somehow got another pin. One thing led to another and I now have 13,000 in my collection.'
A visitor from Atlanta recounts: 'My dad gave me my first pin from the Atlanta 1996 Games when I was three years old, and I’ve been collecting ever since. I love collecting the country pins.'
And another transatlantic pin collector, Al Falcao from Canada, says: 'For me it’s not about the pins, it's about the relationships – and the joy is in pursuing rather than owning the pins. I'm giving out pins to children during London 2012 in exchange for a smile.'
Where to trade
Coca-Cola is hosting two official pin trading centres during the London 2012 Games – one on the Olympic Park and one in Hyde Park. If you are not already among the tens of thousands trading their pins, then now is your chance to join in. Start your collection today with the London 2012 Shop