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”)

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]

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]

Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

London 2012 Olympic 30 Pin Stamps Set 246-265 & 1014-1023Mega Rare Sochi 2014 Torch Relay Pin Badge "olympic Torch" No Reserve Price!!! London Olympic Games 2012 Pin Badges Joblot Regions Nations G4s Security EdfSochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games Athletes' Participation Medal (rare)Lot Of 20 Coca Cola 2002 Slc Olympic Pins Coke Utah Bottle Cap Drinks To Go SetSochi 2014 Olympics Sponsor Pin Rio 2016 Olympic & Paralympic Games Logos BrazilSochi 2014 Olympics Noc Pin Oslo 2022 Applicant City Bid Pin Norway Beauty!Sochi 2014 Olympics Sponsor Pin Torch Relay Very Nice!Olympic Badge Pin 2014 Sochi Russia Team Usa Usoc Matryoshka Babushka DollSochi 2014 Olympics Noc Pin Official "thank You" From Ioc President Merci RussiaSochi 2014 Olympics Sponsor Pin Coca-cola Coke Bottle & Nesting Dolls In Red HotLot Of 20 Home Depot 2002 Slc Olympic Pins Utah Salt Lake City SponsorSochi 2014 Olympics Sponsor Pin Vw Volkswagen Das Auto Huge Biathlon Mascot BearSochi 2014 Olympics Sponsor Pin Bosco Sportswear Rainbow Glove Very Hard 2 Find!Vintage Rare Munich Olympic Olympiad Games Participation Medal 1972Sochi 2014 Olympics Sponsor Pin Dow Opening Ceremony Half Of Beautiful 2-pin SetLot Of 9 2002 Slc Olympic Pins Heber Valley Railroad Utah Golden Spike 2 SetsVintage 1930s Eagle Scout Medal & Participation Medal W/bsa Pins Boy Scouts LotLot Of 22 Delta Airlines 2002 Slc Olympic Pins Utah Ut Airplane Coco Cola CokeSochi 2014 Olympic Pin Media Japan Tbs Very RareLot Of 25 2002 Slc Ut Olympic Sponsor Pins Utah Blue Diamond Stamps Visa HancockBritish Airways Blue Olympic Badge Pin Proud Airline Partners London 2012 NewSochi 2014 Olympic Pin Media Japan The Asahi ShimbunOlympic Pins Badge 2014 Sochi Russia Nbc Media Sponsor Snowflake SnowflakesExtra! Extra! It's Atlanta 1996 Olympic Media/bid PinSochi 2014 Olympics Sponsor Pin Russian Nat'l. Railroad 2 Of 4 Venue Station SetSochi 2014 Olympics Sponsor Pin Russian Nat'l. Railroad 1 Of 4 Venue Station SetSochi 2014 Olympics Sponsor Pin Russian Nat'l. Railroad 3 Of 4 Venue Station SetSochi 2014 Olympics Sponsor Pin Russian Nat'l. Railroad 4 Of 4 Venue Station SetSochi 2014 Olympic Official Nbc Media Vip Ice Hockey Large Pin Very RareMixed Lot Of 34 Lapel Pins From Olympic Games Calgary Vancouver Rings Beijing ++Apc Valentines Day Feb 14 1994 Lillehammer 1994 Olympic Media PinOlympic Pins Badge 2014 Sochi Russia Team Usa Flags & Team Logo DesignHuge 60+ Lot Of Collectible Pins - Advertising, Olympics, Schools, Travel London 2012 Olympic Pin Badge 0247 Stamps - ArcherySochi 2014 Olympics Sponsor Pin Coca-cola Coke Bottle Cap Staff Only! Not 4 SaleOlympics Coke Guitar Pins Swatch Watch Atlanta, Coca Cola PinSamoa's Scarce Olympic Noc Pin - Sydney 2000!!!Lot Of Awesome Coins Indian Copper .999 Bullion Olympic China 2008 Lakers PinsLondon 2012 Olympic - Athletics Pictogram - Pin Badge ( Extremely Rare )2010 Vancouver Olympic S03 Different 16 Pins2010 Vancouver Olympic S04 Different 16 PinsSochi 2014 Olympics Sponsor Pin Coca-cola Coke Round W/ Bottle Very Nice!Sochi 2014 Olympics Media Pin Nbc Today Show Shield W/ Thermometer Wow!Olympic Bid Pin LotOlympic Pins Badge 2014 Sochi Russia Srg Ssr Swiss Switzerland Media Matryoshka Sochi 2014 Olympics Noc Pin Czech Team DatedLondon 2012 Olympic Games Lot Of 6 Pin Badges Honav Uk LtdRare Coca Cola 1984 Olympics International Flag Complete 150 Pin SetSochi 2014 Olympic Pin Media The Wall Street JournalOlympic Candidate City Bid Pin Collection2010 Vancouver Olympic S02 Different 16 Pins1936 Berlin Olympic PinAbc Guest Pin For Montreal 1976 OlympicsUsg Snowflake #2 Sochi 2014 Olympic Sponsor PinOld Badge With Olympic Rings Garmisch Partenkirchen Pin Olympic Games 1936 ?Abc Guest Pin For Munich 1972 OlympicsNoc Olympic Pin Lot #2Olympic Torch Relay Lapel Pin - 2002 Salt Lake CityLondon 2012 Olympic Pin Badge 0256 Stamps - Rowing