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    

Beijing 2008 Olympics, Timore Leste Noc PinBeijing 2008 Olympics, Kiribati Noc PinBeijing 2008 Olympics, Tonga Noc PinBeijing 2008 Olympics, Comoros Noc PinPinbacks Lapel Hat Pins Lot 170 Vintage Now Military Olympics Flags Disney MoreSalt Lake City Winter Olympics 2002 Days1-17 Pins Rare MintBeijing 2008 Olympics, Kiribati Noc PinOlympic Pins Vancouver 2010 Pyeongchang 2018 Limited Edition Hockey Set2002 Olympic Pin Lot Of 26 Pins Collector Pins Salt Lake Olympics2014 Sochi Winter Olympics Pin BbcOfficial Beijing 2008 Olympic Mascot Pictogran Pin - AthleticsRare C 1920's Romania Noc National Olympic Committee Pin BadgeVintage Olympic Participation Bronze Medal 20 Disciplines Mexico 1968 2002 Salt City Olympics Tv Asahi Doraemon Japan Japanese Media Pins Set Rare PiRare Ibm Pin - Lillehammer Olympics 1994Australian Short Track - Lillehammer Olympics 1994 PinRadio Free Asia (rfa) Olympic Media Pins - The Panda Collection (2008-2016) 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games Candidate City Pin Hello Kitty Tv Pikachu Rio LondonSwitzerland Noc Olympic Team Pin - Big Swiss - Vancouver Canada 2010Nice Visitor`s Pin From The 1936 Olympic Summer Games Held In Berlin - GermanyOlympic Pins London 2012 Pyeongchang 2018 Media2022 Olympic Winter Games Beijing Candidate City Gold & Silver 2 Pins SetRare Vintage ~ Myanmar (burma) ~ Olympic Noc Pin ~ Good ConditionOlympic Games 1964 Tokyo Participant Badge Pin RareBeijing 2008 Olympics, Cook Islands Noc PinBeijing 2008 Olympics, Kyrgyzstan Noc PinRio 2016 Olympic And Paralympic Pin Licenciado Very Rare!!! Lot Of 40 Vtg Junk Drawer Lapel Pin Usa States Patriotic 9/11 Olympics & More2004 Athens Asahi Shimbun Newspaper Olympic Media PinNbc Beijing 2008 5 Pin Great Wall Of China Olympic Sports Pin SetCollection 6 Lillehammer Norway Olympics 1994 Promotional Pin Badges Barbie Lot Of 2 Winter Fantasy Holiday Visions Sydney 2000 Olympic Pin CollectorRare Olympic Games Candidate Bid City Pin Paris 2012 – Sponsor Lagadere 14 Pictogram Pins Lillehammer 1994 Olympics - Biathlon Hockey Bobsleigh EtcRio 2016.olympic Games. Media Pin. Tvb. BadmintonUnited Parcel Service (ups) Collectibles - Dbl Rig, Olympic Pins, Mug, And More!1995-s Atlanta Olympic Half-dollar Coin And Pin Set - UncirculatedVintage 1988 Coca Cola Calgary Winter Olympic Mascot Framed 20 Pin SetSwitzerland Noc Olympic Team Pin - Lillehammer Norway 1994Myanmar Noc Olympic Team Pin Vintage 1988 Calgary Winter Olympic Team Canada Framed 15 Sport Pin Set1976 Montreal Olympics Abc Sports(tv) Media Pin Nbc Salt Lake City Olympic Pin With Metals 2002 Gold Silver Bronze1994 Lillehammer Olympic Games Germany Noc Pin Lot Of 5 Mcdonald's Pins 1996 Atlanta Olympics1994 Lillehammer Olympic Games Noc Pin Canada 1994 Lillehammer Olympic Games Noc Pin U.s.a Ski Teem 1994 Lillehammer Olympic Games Noc Pin Canada Olympic Games 2004 Athen Participant Badge Pin RareAbc Sarajevo 1984 Olympic Media Pin2004 Athens Olympic Sports Illustrated Pin Camera Double Pin BackOakley 2014 Sochi Olympic Collectors PinSalt Lake City 2002 Logo And Rings Oversized Olympic Pin In Box1994 Lillehammer Olympic Games Noc Pin Virgin IslandsOlympic Games 1968 Mexico Argentina Participant Badge Pin Rare2010 - Vancouver Olympic Toboggan - Brooch / Lapel Pin.Nagano 3 Years To Go Salt Lake City 1 Year To Go Ltd Ed Olympic Pin1980 Moscow Olympic Pins1976 Montreal Olympic Noc Pins And Canadian Pins Lot2000 Sydney Olympic Games Noc Pin Saudi Arabia