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    

1960 Rome Olympic Games - Participation Medal + Box 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games - Participation MedalAthens Greece Olympic 2004 Japan Media Pin The Chunichi Shimbun Press$9.99 Nr 1988 Olympic Games Seoul Bronze Octagonal Participation Medal London 2012 Olympics 6 Pin Badges Day Of The Games - Lot 10Lot Of 19 Coca-cola Olympic Lapel Pins - 1988 Calgary Olympics Mascots & Sports1995 P Mint $1 Dollar Silver Commemorative Olympic Track & Field Us Coin W PinLondon 2012 Olympics - The Olympic Museum Games Posters - 17 Pin BadgesLondon 2012 Olympics 4 Pin Badges Sports Poses - Lot 111988 Seoul Olympic Games Participation Bronze Authentic Medal- No ReserveHard Rock Cafe Online All 5 2002 "olympic" Winter Sport Games Guitar PinInnsbruck 1964 Winter Olympics Participation & Gb Team Pin Lapel Badges. (mr76)2004 Disneyland "summer Olympics" Lot Of 31 Pins & Badge LanyardOlympic Basketball Molten Gl7 Fiba Ball With Whole Kit Ball Pump+net Bag+2 PinsKuwait National Olympic Committee (noc) Pin - Centennial 100Vintage 1980 Lake Placid Olympic Pin Encased In Silver Colored Metal1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympics Collectable Memorabilia Pins,keychain Lot Of 101976 Montreal British Bbc Tv Olympic Media PinLot Of 11 Olympic Collectible Lapel Pins 1996 Atlanta London 2012 Olympics 5 Pin Badges - Lot 2Canada 23-pin National Olympic Committee (noc) Pin Set - Moose/sportsLot Of 13 Original 2004 Athens Olympic Games PinsOlympic Pin Miracle On Ice 35th ReunionSet Of Four Authentic Olympic Games London 2012 Guards Pins BadgesLondon 2012 Olympics 6 Pin Badges - Lot 7London 2012 Olympics 6 Pin Badges - Lot 8London 2012 Olympics 4 Pin Badges Venue Road/track Cycling - Lot 13Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games Participation MedalOlympic Basketball Molten Gl7 Fiba Ball With Whole Kit Ball Pump+net Bag+2 PinsDisney Shopping Le 250 Pin - Greek Stitch Olympic Chariot Horse Sports 64281Xv Olympic Winter Games Calgary 1988 Limited Edition Commemorative Pin SetCanada Extra-large 1996 National Olympic Committee (noc) PinLondon 2012 Olympic Park Large Print + 2012 Emergency Services Pin Badge Set Of Five Authentic Olympic Games London 2012 Landmark Icon Pins BadgesOlympic Games Pins Lot. 23 Pins. Please See Pics. Dates From 1980 To 2002.Noc Chinese Taipei Taiwan 1972 Munich Olympic Games Pin Enamel Original1960 Olympics, Nigeria National Team Pin Lapel Badge. (mr74)Olympic Nbc PinSet Vintage Pins Olympic GamesLot Of 60+ Vintage Lapel Hat Pins Travel Comic Tv Olympic Industrial CorporateDisney Usa Olympics Olympic Games Logo Rings Hercules Flexing Pin From 2004Michael Jordan 1992 Barcelona Dream Team Basketball Olympic PinUsa Dream Team Basketball 1992 Barcelona Olympic PinSochi Russia Olympic 2014 Pin Ice Skating Ice Skate Canada 2 Skates PinsLondon 2012 Olympics 6 Pin Badges - Lot 9London 2012 Olympics 2 Pin Badges Sponsor/partner - Lot 12Rare Ltd Edition Coca Cola Santa Pin Set #163--1984 Olympics. Only 1000 Made1996 Atlanta Olympic Pins Lot Of 35 And Carrying Bag2014 Sochi Monaco Olympic Noc Pin SetSilver 1896 Olympiics Games Participation Medal Replica 1 Troy Ounce W. PittnerLondon 2012 Olympics 5 Pin Badges Venue Collection - Wrestling Greco/freestyle Lot 33 Assorted Bowling Lapel Pins New And Used Attendance Olympic 200 600 Club 1995 Atlanta Olympics Baseball Half Dollar & Olympic Pin - UncirculatedAbc Pin- 1980 Winter Olympics Pin Back Palestine Undated National Olympic Committee (noc) PinVintage Coke Pins (18) Olympic, White Castle, Huck Finn, Coke 85 Benin 1996 National Olympic Committee (noc) Pin1996 Atlanta Olympic Pins (set Of 6)London 2012 Olympics 4 Pin Badges Venue Canoe Slalom / Sprint- Lot 14Olympic Games London 2012 Policeman Police Officer Helmet Enamel Pin Badge