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Olympic Pin Collecting

Updated on August 2, 2017
JoanieMRuppel54 profile image

As an avid Olympic fan, I became an avid Olympic pin collector. Learn about the different types of pins to share the spirit.

Rio 2016 Team USA pin
Rio 2016 Team USA pin

Olympic Pin Collecting

The TV coverage from Los Angeles Olympics gave us the first glimpse of what was to become a popular hobby of Olympic pin collecting. Pins were purchased through venders or via people-to-people in and around the venues.

Previous to that time, athletes were given pins by their home country to trade with the other athletes at the beginning or end of their specific competition. This suddenly turned into a new craze, made popular in America in front of the world back in 1984.

There are hundreds of thousands of Olympic pins to start a collection and with so many choices, get ready to become acquainted with some Olympic history through the types and styles of pins available to start or add to your collection.

Inside Olympic Stadium
Inside Olympic Stadium

Olympic History

Modern Era

The modern Olympic era began in 1896 in Athens, Greece. For that country, it came full circle when Athens again hosted the 2004 Olympics. Originally they wanted the 1996 Games, but their country was unprepared (in the eyes of the IOC) and did not receive the bid. They pulled themselves together and ended up hosting a fabulous Games in 2004.

One famous memory of the Athens games is the very first "act" of the Opening Ceremonies. In the months and weeks preceding the Games, it appeared that Greece was not ready and may not be ready by the Opening Ceremonies. So, in true Greek drama, the opening act was a repairman coming out to center stage and hammering down the last nail, exclaiming, "Now we are ready!"

A note regarding the photo below: It was the last day of our island sail ship cruise on the mainland in Athens. I was so tired but was not going to leave this city without seeing the site of the 1896 Athens Olympic Stadium. I put my camera nose through the fence to grab this shot. Then I thought of the brevity of the situation - I was thinking how awesome it was to see this landmark from 1896 and it dawned on me how old everything else in Greece is - put a trip to Greece on your bucket list!

1896 Olympic Stadium, Athens, Greece

1896 Olympic Stadium, Athens, Greece
1896 Olympic Stadium, Athens, Greece

Olympic Rings

The five Olympic Rings stand for the five continents that send athletes to The Games. (Asia & Europe are counted as one and no Antarctica.) The five different colors represent at least one color from every country's flag that sends athletes to compete.

Summon The Heroes - By Musical Genius John Williams

If these Olympic Themes don't put goose bumps on your skin, than I don't know what music will. In the United States, no one has matched the genius of composer John Williams who has given us several Olympic themes.

Olympic History

Ancient Era

There are no official records to recall the exact history of the ancient Olympic era. We believe they began in 776 BC and athletic events were held to honor the Greek God Zeus. Only men were allowed to compete and all "teams" were from Greece.

If you would like to learn more about the ancient Olympic games, Wikipedia has a good narrative to learn from.

IOC

The IOC or International Olympic Committee governs the games world-wide.

Learn more about the IOC here.

Countdown Pins

Countdown pins do just that. They are published on important milestone days that lead up to the Olympic opening ceremonies. The pin shown to the right is the pin issued one year before the opening of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Day Pins

Day Pins are issued on the consecutive days the Olympics are "open." The pin shown to the right is a Day Pin from Salt Lake City on the 10th day of the Games. These pins are highly popular since they only make a certain quantity and it is a "game" in itself to obtain one of these pins.

USOC

The USOC or United States Olympic Committee is our country's governing body.

Team USA

Team USA will always put out a pin with the specific Olympiad and the words Team USA. Click on USOC to learn more about Team USA.


Bridge Pins

Bridge Pins connect one Olympiad to another in either two-year or four-year increments and either summer or winter games. Therefore, a bridge pin would connect consecutive Olympiads, i.e., Vancouver (2010) to London (2012) OR sticking with the Summer Games only, London (2012) to Rio (2016). The pin to the right is bridging Salt Lake City 2002 to Athens 2004. These are some of my favorite pins.

Mascot Pins

Mascot Pins depict the mascot(s) of the Games in a large variety of ways. Some Games have one mascot, and some have several. A bit of trivia: when the USA won the Atlanta Olympics there was much anticipation about the unveiling of the mascot. Turned out it was some made up technoligcal character than was not a popular choice with the Americans. Not sure if it was the USOC or the AOC (Atlanta Olympic Committee) who heard the public outcry and changed it up a bit from "Whoisit?" to "Izzy", probably the worst Olympic mascot in the modern era. The pin to the right is from the Vancouver 2010 Games.

Water Misters

In Atlanta, it was very hot so several venues had water misters set up to keep people cooled off. They also had free water in little paper cups to keep people hydrated. Good idea, thanks a lot!

Sponsor Pins

Sponsor Pins are generally hard to get prior to a specific Olympic Games, unless you work for that sponsor. Afterwards, you can find them all over eBay. This sponsor pin is from Speedo and it ranks in the Top 5 of my collection.

Sport Pins

Sports Pins depict the sporting events at the Olympics. There are layers and layers of sports pins, varying by equipment, venue, uniform, country, flag, etc. from that sport. I love this pin of a USA hockey puck from Torino.

Noise Makers

Do you know why cow bells are a tradition at the Winter Games? Because everyone has gloves on and clapping will not make noise.

My Favorite Pin

This pin was given to me by my cousin who commentated speed skating at the 1984 Sarajevo Olympics. (This was back when the summer and winter games were held in the same year. Sarajevo had the winter games, Los Angeles had the summer games.) It is a sponsor pin and needless to say, Sarajevo was ruined after that country's war and any keepsake from these Games is very sentimental, not to mention probably worth a little more than others.

My First Pin

This Russian Doll pin is from the 1976 Montreal Olympics. I went to college with a swimmer who was from Ecuador and he brought this pin back for me. This pin is a good example of the type of pin athletes would trade at their event, that is how Jorge got it! Pins were given to them by their home team (country) and they traded with someone who probably, in this case, swam the same event. I love this little doll!

I thought it was interesting to note how the "old-fashioned" pins clasp. Much different than the usual metal clasp used today.

Another tidbit: I have a few pins from the Vancouver Games with plastic Maple Leaf clasp backs - they are very cool!

My Hardest Earned Pin

We attend ski jumping in Salt Lake City. The event began very early in the morning. After parking our car, we had to catch a bus up to the venue area OR walk about a mile up a steep hill. The organizers were very smart and had this little competition: for those who choose to walk to the venue they would be awarded a "Gold Medal Mile" Olympic pin. Of course my friend and I were up to the challenge. Just suffice it to say, even though the temperature was below freezing, by the time we got to the top of the hill we weren't even wearing our coats anymore.

Five Ways to Display Your Pins

Here are five suggestions on how to display your pins while you are attending the games.

Scarf

Scarf - In Salt Lake City it was cold so a scarf was standard wear. I turned mine into my pin display. I always had them with me and they were again very visible. (See the photo in the poll module, you can see how I wore my scarf.)

Hat

Hat - This is a very visible way to display your pins and makes the pins easily visible for trading. It does get a little heavy though, so if you prefer to be light-headed, try another method.

Golf Towel

In Atlanta, I had a golf towel attached to my belt. I could easily add a pin in a few seconds. Again, a very visible and accessible way to display the pins.

Shirt & Backpack

On your shirt - unless you just have a few pins, your shirt will become quite heavy to wear. This would also only work at the summer games since you would most likely have a coat or vest on at the winter games. A vest is indeed a good way to display your pins also.

Wearing a backpack is a very practical way to carry your personal items and display your pins.

How To Obtain Olympic Pins

You do not have to attend the Olympics in order to get pins, but that is the easiest and most fun way.

If You Are Attending The Olympics: There are trading stations, usually sanctioned by the IOC or the host country's organizing committee. They are all over the place, and usually at every venue. It is not odd to walk up to a complete stranger you see adorned in pins and start trading - that is a very fun part of collecting Olympic pins. I carried on a friendship with a trader for a couple of years after SLC 2002 and with today's technology, no doubt you may make a friend for life.

If You Are Not Attending The Olympics: This hub is a great place to start. Amazon and eBay are big sellers of pins past and present. The USOC has a store on it's website and when the Olympics are in our home country, many sponsors have pins for sale on the homeland. Worldwide sponsors, such as McDonald's, sometimes make pins available through their companies and I have seen employees wearing the pins. Have I asked to have one or trade, you bet I have!

Location of PyeongChang, South Korea

A markerPyeongChang, South Korea -
Pyeongchang-gun, Gangwon-do, South Korea
get directions

Joy for Tokyo, Pain for Madrid and Istanbul

Have You Been to The Games?

My cousin was an Olympic speedskater back in the 70's and 80's and that's when my Olympic spirit was born! I always tease that I should have paid a lot more attention when she dragged me out on the ice to try to teach me to skate when we were young. The spirit has always stayed with me and I made it a goal when I was a teen to attend the Olympics. So far I have been to 3, Los Angeles in 1984, Atlanta in 1996, and Salt Lake City in 2002. Maybe one day I will venture outside the confines of the USA and make it to an Olympiad on foreign ground.

Have you ever attended the Olympic Games? (Summer or Winter, doesn't matter)

See results

Future Olympic Sites

The current IOC rules allow for a vote on the next Olympic city/site 7 years before the Games will take place. Below is a list of the next 3 consecutive Olympiads already chosen and the next two summer sites.

2018 PyeongChang, South Korea (winter)

2020 Tokyo, Japan (summer)

2022 Beijing, China (winter)

2024 Paris, France (summer)

2026 Winter site TBA

2028 Los Angeles (winter)

In historic fashion, the IOC on July 31, 2017, announced the next TWO hosts for the Summer Olympic Games. Paris will host in 2024 and Los Angeles will host in 2028. This has never been done before and makes all the sense in the world since fewer and fewer cities are willing to spend the billions of dollars it takes to host the Olympic Games. A very good solution! Follow the Los Angeles games on twitter #LA2028

Photos From Salt Lake City 2002

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Olympic Stadium - Opening and Closing CeremoniesTemple Square, we loved the banners on the buildings. This was the first city to use the banners and now they are used extensively.Near the Award Ceremonies.USA Women's Hockey score against Finland.Your destination?Speed Skating ovalA pretty cute Canadian fan! Her auntie was skating and won the silver medal.Those Dutch, they love their speed skating.At 7:00am at the bottom of the Ski Jump hill (wear we earned our Gold Medal Mile pin)Ski Jump
Olympic Stadium - Opening and Closing Ceremonies
Olympic Stadium - Opening and Closing Ceremonies
Temple Square, we loved the banners on the buildings. This was the first city to use the banners and now they are used extensively.
Temple Square, we loved the banners on the buildings. This was the first city to use the banners and now they are used extensively.
Near the Award Ceremonies.
Near the Award Ceremonies.
USA Women's Hockey score against Finland.
USA Women's Hockey score against Finland.
Your destination?
Your destination?
Speed Skating oval
Speed Skating oval
A pretty cute Canadian fan! Her auntie was skating and won the silver medal.
A pretty cute Canadian fan! Her auntie was skating and won the silver medal.
Those Dutch, they love their speed skating.
Those Dutch, they love their speed skating.
At 7:00am at the bottom of the Ski Jump hill (wear we earned our Gold Medal Mile pin)
At 7:00am at the bottom of the Ski Jump hill (wear we earned our Gold Medal Mile pin)
Ski Jump
Ski Jump

Go Team Usa!

GO TEAM USA!
GO TEAM USA!

I would love to hear your stories about Olympic pins.

Have You Heard About Olympic Pins Before Now? - Do You Own Any?

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    • JoanieMRuppel54 profile image
      Author

      Joanie Ruppel 3 years ago from Keller, Texas

      @Vincent Fleming: Agreed - very affordable for a child's budget, interesting and helps them learn about history, sports, and new places in the world.

    • Vincent Fleming profile image

      Vincent Fleming 3 years ago from Indiana

      I have collected Olympic pins for years. It is a great hobby for children!

    • JoanieMRuppel54 profile image
      Author

      Joanie Ruppel 3 years ago from Keller, Texas

      @Mommie-Moola: Thank you! I love when that happens!

    • Mommie-Moola profile image

      Mommie-Moola 3 years ago

      I've heard of them but have learned so much more from your lens. Thanks!

    • flinnie lm profile image

      Gloria Freeman 4 years ago from Alabama USA

      I also saw them on QVC. I am thinking about starting a collect .

    • MarcStorm LM profile image

      MarcStorm LM 5 years ago

      They just started selling them the other day on QVC. I've heard of pins from a lot of the other Olympics too. I've always liked pins. I really think I want to collect them!