Olympic Pin Trading: The #1 Sport at the Rio Games

Hat featuring Olympic pins
Photo Courtesy of Insidethegames.biz

You don’t have to be a world-class athlete to participate in the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro (August 5-21). If you’re lucky enough to be attending as a fan, you can qualify for the most popular sport at the Games: Olympic pin trading.

Every four years, thousands of enamel and metal Olympic pins are issued by countries, teams, corporate sponsors, and media outlets. They all have different values, depending on the number of pins in circulation and the “cool factor” of the entity striking the pin.

Pin Trading Involves Athletes and Fans Alike
Olympic Pin Trading Involves Athletes and Fans Alike. Photo Credit – Jake Whitman, ABC.

Athletes, fans, first-time collectors and experienced “pinheads” all participate in Olympic pin trading. According to The New York Times, “Pins are a kind of social currency, a pre-Facebook form of social media that gives random fans a reason to start a conversation and even form a friendship.” How refreshing.

An Official Pin from the 2016 Rio Olympic Games
An Official Pin from the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro

Olympic pin trading is fun, inexpensive, competitive and addictive. I know first hand; I still have my Olympic pin collection from the 1980 Winter Olympic Games at Lake Placid, New York. Back then I was a young promotion writer for Sports Illustrated magazine. I started out with a handful of silver and blue pins from SI, and in no time I was swapping with media colleagues from ABC Sports, heroes from the U.S. Hockey Team, and athletes and sports fans from around the world.

It’s impossible to be blasé about the Olympics; it’s like no other sporting event on Earth. If you ever get the opportunity to attend, don’t pass it up. And don’t worry if you can’t get your hands on a supply of trading pins before you leave…there will be plenty to buy when you get there. Go U.S.A.!

Calling All Sports Memorabilia Collectors

Christie’s to Auction 1904 Olympic Gold Medal for Golf

In August golf will return to the Olympic Games after an absence of 112 years. Following the decision made by the International Olympic Committee in 2009, many of the world’s top male and female professionals will line up to compete in 72-hole individual tournaments over the newly built Olympic Course within the Reserva de Marapendi in Rio de Janeiro.

Many of those playing in Rio will be household names to the millions worldwide who follow the sport — a far cry from the last time golf was part of the Games. In 1904 the Olympic tournament was dominated by leading amateur players from the American Midwest and a handful from beyond. Among them was a 17-year-old prodigy [Robert E. Hunter] from Chicago whose team gold medal, one of only three known surviving Olympic gold medals for golf, is offered in the Out of the Ordinary sale at Christie’s South Kensington on 14 September. – Christies.com


1904 Olympic Gold Medal Awarded to Robert E. Hunter
1904 Olympic Gold Medal Awarded to Robert E. Hunter. Photo Courtesy of Christies.com.

A 1904 Olympic gold medal awarded to American amateur golfer Robert E. Hunter. 14k gold, cast in relief with a golf-bag, thistles and a banner inscribed `GOLF’, the bar inscribed `1904 UNIVERSAL EXPOSITION/OLYMPIC GAMES/ST. LOUIS’. 1¼ in (3.3 cm) diameter. Estimate: £20,000-30,000. This lot is offered in the Out of the Ordinary sale on September 14, 2016, at Christie’s South Kensington, London.


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