Every two years, fans of the summer and winter Olympic Games have the opportunity to collect new pins and participation medals produced for the world’s premier international sporting events. The Olympic pin tradition began with small cardboard badges worn by athletes and officials at the first modern Olympics in 1896; trading these emblems was an early gesture of goodwill between competing nationalities. At the 1908 games in Paris, different pin styles designated specific groups like media professionals or judges. Finally, the first souvenir pins were produced for spectators to purchase at the 1912 Stockholm games. Among the rarest of Olympic pins are those made for the 1940 games, which were cancelled because of World War II.

The first sponsorship pin was designed by Sylvania Electric Products, Inc., for the 1960 winter games in Squaw Valley. In 1968, the Mexico City games featured the first butterfly-clutch pin fastener, which has become the standard of Olympic pins today. However, the pin-trading tradition wasn’t firmly established until the 1980s, when sponsoring companies like Hard Rock Cafe and Coca-Cola marketed their own pins and set up official trading stations. Because the pins are small, affordable, and offer endless variety, their popularity quickly ballooned among Olympic fans, with around 17 million made for the 1984 Los Angeles games.

Pins are generally manufactured in limited numbered editions, and those with the smallest quantities or from the earliest games are typically most desirable. These also include “bid-city” pins issued by the various cities competing for a chance to host the Olympics. Pins which are made with production flaws also draw high bids.

In contrast to pins, all participation medals are, by definition, official. Although they are far easier to come by than the medals awarded to victorious athletes, participation medals are also highly desirable. At the first modern Olympics in 1896, bronze medals designed by sculptor Godefroid Devreese were distributed to all participants, while first place winners were given silver medals and second-place finishers received copper ones. Devreese’s design featured an image of the goddess Nike holding a laurel crown, the symbol of victory used at ancient games, as well as a phoenix rising from ashes, representing the rebirth of the ceremonial games.

With the exception of the Paris Olympic games of 1900, participation medals have been produced for all following Olympics, with the total mintage for each design ranging from 700 to 60,000 medals. Gold, silver, and bronze medals became standard at the 1904 St. Louis Olympics, while the famous interlocking Olympic rings first appeared on medals at the 1928 winter games in St. Moritz. Today it is the host country’s obligation to produce and distribute participation medals, while each design’s copyright is owned by the International Olympic Committee.

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Comic Character Pinbacks

Comic Character Pinbacks

Mark Lansdown's excellent collection of over 800 pinbacks representing 200+ comic characters from 100+ strips. Beau… [read review or visit site]

The Wheelmen

The Wheelmen

This elegant tribute to turn-of-the-century bicycling includes memorabilia, photographs, and an index of 3140 bicyc… [read review or visit site]

Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

1976 Olympic Games Montreal Genuine Athlete's Participation MedalTokyo 2020 Olympic Pin Candidate City Hello Kity1924 Olympic Games Paris Genuine Athlete's Participation MedalOfficial 1960 Roma, Italy Summer Olympic Athlete Participation MedalOfficial Olympic Games Participation Medal Sarajevo '84 - Rare1996 Atlanta Olympic Participation Medal (given To Olympic Athletes)Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Pin Noc Date Canada2002 Olympics Celebrate Utah Rare Pin Set Framed 851/10001936 Vip Olympic Badge Pin Porcelain BerlinThree Pin Set Olympic Torch Relay 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics Coca-colaOfficial 1912 Stockholm Summer Olympic Athlete Participation MedalSochi 2014. Set Of Pin Badges "sports Pictographs" For The Olympic Games.Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Pin Noc Date UsaJohn Hancock Insurance New York City Twin Towers 3d Relief Skyline Olympic PinSochi 2014. 2 Sets Of Pin Badges Sports Silhouettes 1&2 For The Olympic Games.Sydney Olympic 2000 Pin Set :2nd Collectable Pewter -limited Edition 1025 / 2000Sydney Olympic 2000 Pin Set : 3rd Collectable Pewter -limited Edition 088 / 2000Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Pin Noc GrenadaNanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Pin Noc Date Japan Team SwimmingNanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Pin Noc Date Papua Nea Guinea1976 Candidate City Olympic Bid Pin Los AngelesDelta Air Lines Gold, Silver, Bronze 3 Pin Set Olympic Pin Salt Lake City 2002Two Rare Pins From The Olympic Winter Games In Oslo 1952Awesome Disney Jessica Rabbit Winter Olympics Pin Limited Edition 250Bangladesh Shooting Team Atlanta 1996 National Olympic Committee (noc) PinGrenoble Olympics Volunteer Badge/pinNanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Pin Mascot 11996 Olympic Games Us Atlanta Basketball Half Dollar Coin & Pin *no Reserve!Atlanta 1996 Olympic Pin Set100+ Pins,stimpy,olympics,navy,fireman,flag,dumbo,snoopy,angels,ffa,foe,cokeOfficial Sydney 2000 Olympic Games Pictograms Framed 35 Pin SetNanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Pin Noc Date JamaicaDelta Air Lines Slc Passenger Service Internal Olympic Pin Slc 2002 Montreal 1976 Summer Olympic Pin Collect Delta Airlines Official Sponsor Of Irish Olympic Team National Olympic Comm Pin2012 London Olympic Official Pin Badge --- Lighthouse (glow In The Dark)Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Pin Noc Lesotho NewNanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Pin Noc Date ZimbabueNanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Pin Noc Date Botswana Singapore 2010 Olympic Youth Pin Masots 1st Youth Olympic GamesOversized Sydney 2000 Sports Pictogram Limited Edition Olympic PinDelta Air Lines 2002 Airplane And Card Olympic Pin Salt Lake City 2002Zippo Lighters Bicentenial Copper Olympics 1996 Matches Pin Up Girl GirlsLondon 2012 Olympics Shakespeare , Darwin & Smith Samsung Enamel Pin BadgeLondon 2012 Olympics Kew Gardens Samsung Enamel Pin BadgeDisney Pin Mickey Mouse Olympic Flame *summer Of Champions* 2008 Logo!Rare Helsinki 1952 Olympic Games - Participant Badge / Pin MedalLast Chance ! Tokyo 2020 Olympic Game Official Pin 50pc.lotMelbourne 1956 Olympic Games Lux Button Badge Pin Hector Hogan Athletics 3Lillehammer Norway 17th Winter Olympic Canada Noc Internal Team Delegation Pin Mexico 68 Olympic 1968 Pin Dove's Dated And Rings Htf!Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Pin Noc Turkey NewNanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Pin Noc Date BermudaNanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Pin Noc Date SlovakiaNanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Pin Noc Date Ukraine Basketball1996 Atlanta Georgia Olympic Pins **88 Pins** Hard Rock Cafe, Coca Cola, & More1996 Izzy Memo Creation By Executive Committee Olympic Pin Atlanta Mascot Morph1988 Calgary Seoul Olympics Bridge Pin Flags Logo Mint London 2012 Olympics Royal Coach Samsung Enamel Pin BadgeOlympic Pins Badges Seoul 1988 Olympic Games-ussr Noc - Delegation Team Pin