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    

1936 Berlin Olympic Judge Pin - German Ww2 - Judge's Badge - OlympicsParticipation Medal Moscow 1980 Xxii Olympic Games In Original BoxOfficial Olympic Participation Medal London 2012 - Athletes' Version Free ShipLondon 1948 Noc Swiss Olympic Team Fundraising Pin By Louis Meyer & Co Zürich1980 New York State Police Lake Placid Xiii Olympic Winter Games Pin & EnvelopeChinese Taipei's Scarce Dated Olympic Noc Pin - Nagano 1998!!!Vintage 1932 Los Angeles Olympics Enamel And Sterling Lapel Pin Xth Olympiad 1994 Lillehammer Olympic Pin Badge Ioc Host Hotel PinsRare Botswana Noc Olympic Pin - GenericLot Of 7-vintage-olympic Memorabilia Patches-pins1996 Atlanta Olympics Sponsors Pin CollectionThailand Noc Olympic Team Pin - Beijing 2008 - Large ElephantVery Rare Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 Pin - Mitsubishi - Hello Kitty1956 Melbourne Olympics Medallions/bakelite-plastic For Display Or PinsHuge 145 Piece Collectible Vintage Jewelry Pin Back Lot Olympic Stamps & MoreSpecial Olympics Collectable Bowling PinVintage Pin Collection. Olympics.political. Reagan.air Force.and More.2000 Sydney Olympic Participation Medal Olympiad Xxvii Rare Mickisha Hurley CoinLimited Edition Collector Set-sarajevo 1984 Vucko Mascot Winter Olympic Pins6 Olympic Games Media / Tv PinsRare 1984 Olympics Xliii Los Angeles 48 Sponsor Pin Set Framed In Orig Box2010 Vancouver Olympic S02 Different 16 Pins2 Brazil Brasil Noc Olympic Team Pins - Beijing 2008 With Mascots2012 Vancouver Olympic S10 Different 16 Pins2010 Vancouver Olympic S01 Different 16 Pins2010 Vancouver Olympic S05 Different 16 Pins60 Atlanta 1996 Olympic Pins Badges Many Rare & Limited2011 Vancouver Olympic S09 Different 16 Pins6 Rare Olympic Games Candidate Bid City Pin - 1992 - 2012 - 2024Rare Us Embassy Beijing 2008 Olympic PinRare Atlanta Olympic Pin Tribute Sculpture Dedication Ceremony Olympic Park PinUsa Olympic Metal Hat Pins 80 Pin Large Collection Barcelona Albertville 1992Nepal Olympic Team Pin - Crossed Flags - From Los Angeles 1984Argentina Noc Olympic Team Pin - Beijing 2008 - AthleteVintage 1956 Summer Olympic Games Glass Pin Xvi Olympiad Melbourne, AustraliaSalt Lake City 2002 Coal Mascot Luge Winter Olympic Samsung Moving Pin 1 1/4"Salt Lake City 2002 Powder Mascot Ski Jumping Olympic Samsung Moving PinVintage Olympic Games Pins Salt Lake Torino Athens 2010 Vancouver Olympic S07 Different 10 Pins From These PinsHuge Lot Of Assorted 1996 Atlanta Centennial Olympic Games Pins - Pin BundleUltra Rare! London 2012 Olympic Games Acer One Year To Go Pin BadgeMisha Moscow 1980 Olympic Mascot Atlanta 1996 Mascot Series Olympic PinWaldi Munich 1972 Olympic Mascot Atlanta 1996 Mascot Series Olympic PinRugby Discontinued Olympic Sports Atlanta 1996 Olympic PinOlympic Badge Pin 2014 Sochi Russia Patriotic Red/white/blue Flag Guitar GoldJessica Rabbit Pins On Tongue Rolling Stones Pin Olympic 2012 London Red CrossAtlanta Olympic Media Pin For Asahi Shimbun - 1996 Atlanta BackstampLillehammer 1994 Olympic Pins2 Sydney 2000 Noc Limited Edition British Virgin Island Olympic Pins Badges 2008 Beijing Olympic Nbc Media Blossom Fan Pin2010 Vancouver Olympic Coca Cola Truck Snowbord PinPin Lot 50+ Pins Rooster Animal Farm Logo Sport Olympic Soccer 2016 Lillehammer Japan Yog Team Olympic Noc Pin Badge2016 Brazil Rio Olympic Japan Noc Pin Badge2010 Vancouver Olympic S06 Different 5 Pins From These Pins2002 Salt Lake City Olympic 3- Piece Pin Set2008 Beijing Olympic Nbc Media Mother&baby Pandas PinKodak Commemorative Pin Collection 2004 Olympics Olympia Park Muenchen 1972 Olympics Germany Souvenir Pin2014 Nanjing Youth Olympic Noc Marshall Islands Pin