Olympic Bling – Pin Trading at London 2012

The medals aren’t the only shiny things at London 2012. Pin trading is a long Olympic tradition, and while, for the first week, I was mildly curious about the lanyards of some of my fellow volunteers being adored with various badges, a couple of donations meant that I was hooked by the middle weekend of the Olympics.

Above is the current set on my lanyard.

Everyone seems to have different rules for trading pins – I’ve made up my own, which means my collection tends to have smaller and more specialised pins than most others:

  • A – 1 point for every fixing on the back of the pin
  • B – 1 point if the pin has recessed/embossed sections
  • C – 1 point if the pin has no sponsor words or logos on the front
  • D – 1 point if it mentions “London 2012”
  • E – 1 point if it has the Olympic rings (standalone)
  • F – 1 point if it has the London 2012 logo
  • G – 1 point if has a country’s flag on it
  • H – 1 point if it is individually numbered

So far, my pin trading narrative has been:

Pin Trade Type Who Points
Games Maker colour Given LOCOG 4 (AABF)
Apple iPad (black) Given Friend 3 (ACG)
Apple iPhone (white) Collected Apple Store 3 (ACG)
Russian flag Given Journalist 5 (ACDEG)
NBC Swapped iPad (3pts) Army soldier 3 (ACD)
Sverige Swapped Games Maker (4pts) Army soldier 2 (AC)
Apple iPad (white) Collected Apple Store 3 (ACG)
Samsung (Sherlock) Collected Samsung booth 1 (A)
USA flag Swapped Sverige (2pts) Volunteer 4 (ACEG)
Saudi Arabia NOC Swapped NBC (3pts) G4S guard 3 (ACE)
Samsung (Shakespeare) Collected Samsung booth 1 (A)
Games Maker bronze Given LOCOG 4 (AABF)
OBS IBC building Swapped Saudi Arabia NOC (3pts) Collector 6 (AABCDE)
Samsung (Umbrella) Given Friend 1 (A)
Samsung (Umbrella) Given Friend 1 (A)
Samsung (King Arthur) Swapped Samsung (Umbrella) (1pt) Bus despatcher 1 (A)
Fuji Television Swapped 3x Samsung + iPad (6pts) Bus despatcher 5 (ACDFH)

Some people are weighed down with around 20 pins dangling around their necks, while some hide them away on their bags (which is the only place where we are officially allowed to have them) and others don’t have them at all…

Where to get pins

The main area for “professional” pin traders is not the offical venue – the Coca-Cola Pin Trading building near the Orbit – but actually it’s at what is perhaps the most exciting area of the whole games. The area is a small 200m long, 30m wide concrete plaza. On the south side is Stratford International station, with the Javelin high-speed trains to King’s Cross. On the north side is the slightly useless Stratford International DLR station. To the east is an entrance for athletes to the Olympic Village, and to the west is the media entrance to the Olympic Park and the shuttle buses that run to various park venues and the Main Press Centre.

The area is accessible without a ticket to events in the Olympic Park – and so is the best place for non ticket-holders to see athletes, particularly as the press often use this “neutral” area to carry out interviews with their athletes. On the south side of the plaza, adjacent to Stratford International, is where 10-15 pin traders have set up their collections.

To start a collection off, the Samsung and Apple stores, at Stratford City, are giving away pins at a steady rate. Some collectors will swap these for a big collection of old (pre-2012) Olympic pins, and you can go from there.


  1. Will the pin traders near the Olympic Park still be there on Monday Aug 13th? That is one day after the closing ceremonies. I will be flying back home to the USA on Aug 14th and would like to do some last minute Olympic pin trading.

    1. Sure – although I need to first update my list, because I ended up doing a lot of additional trading during the final week of the Olympics, after I wrote that post!

      I would love one of those BBC Gold genuine pins. Never did manage to persuade the security guard that was hoarding them all that it’s about the swapping, not the selling…

  2. Hi I’m Angel of Barcelona Spain

    In Spain it is impossible to get London 2012 pins.
    Are you interested in changing?
    You can send your picture repeated.
    I will send picture of mine.



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