Pin Trading, an Olympic sub-culture

(2012, Aug 9)  Over the last 7 years, you most likely encountered someone in Britain wearing a London 2012 pin. You might even have bought one yourself in one of those sponsor stores around the UK. Even so, this could not prepare you for the arrival of thousands of international pin trading enthusiasts that have set up their stall around Olympic park.

We met pin trader rookies who have been immersed into the culture of trading for just a few days and are now die hard enthusiasts and traders who go all the way back to 1983 and go to every Games with a selection of some 20,000 pins to acquire new additions to their collection. Here are the top 10 rules we learned.

1. If you like a pin, keep it.

2. Ideally get two of each pin, one for your collection, one to trade.

3. While everyone has their own view of what’s more important, generally speaking, the rarer the better. So, pins that are only given to Olympic athletes are like gold dust and find out the stories behind them from the trader, so you obtain some insight into its worth.

4. Pins that don’t have the Olympic rings aren’t worth the metal their printed on, but there are some exceptions to this so inquire into the novelty of each pin carefully. However, we do like the Apple iPad pin.

5. Don’t take it personally if traders don’t wish to exchange. It’s a tough world!

6. Consider trying to acquire a set of pins from a particular Games – for example, each Games have pins for countdown days, and you can try to get all of these.

7. Badges and other tat do not count as pins! They should be metal – not plastic! – smallish, with a spike clasp.

8. It’s ok just to accost someone and ask if they want to trade. If they’re on display, then it’s fair game!

9. Try to get something for nothing. Early in the Games, people may just give away pins because they are brimming with Olympic spirit. Being nice and deserving is a good way to build your collection. Oh, and being an Olympic volunteer helps too!!! Everyone loves you.

10. Have fun. Above all, pin trading is an ice breaker to meet some amazing people and to broaden your global network of friends. You’ll hear all kinds of stories about Games gone by.