Jamaican pins a scarce commodity at London Olympics

BY INGRID BROWN Associate editor — special assignment

Wednesday, August 01, 2012    

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Jamaican pins are one of the few items not on trade here at the London Olympics as collectors are keeping the much sought after emblems in their personal collections, as fellow traders and athletes alike try desperately to get their hands on the black, green and gold.

Vilma Wooll, who along with her husband Phil have been attending Olympic Games since 1984 for the sole purpose of trading the pins, said they have been unable to get any Jamaican pins at these games, as no one is willing to part with them.

"The Jamaican pins are just the hardest to get because they are the most sought after," Vilma told the Jamaica Observer as she stood with her pin display outside the Olympic Park here in Stratford yesterday.

She explained further that when she gets hold of a Jamaican pin she never trades it as these are kept for her personal collection.

Vilma said a lot of persons, including fellow athletes, have been asking for Jamaican pins.

She explained further that she ensures that she gets at least one Jamaican pin for each game they attend.

"Jamaica is the pin I absolutely must get before I leave here," she said, beaming at the prospect.

The couple, who is attending its 24th major game, has collected some 10,000 pins for their personal collection and has brought 2,000 pins from more than 200 countries to trade at this Olympic Games.

She explained that they started collecting the pins at the Olympics in 1984 and then decided they would travel to other Olympics to trade. They have not stopped since and see no immediate end to this rather expensive hobby.

The collectors have, however, complained that the London Olympics organisers have restricted the areas where they can go to trade their pins.

"We can't get to certain areas such as the Village, as we would at other Olympic Games," Vilma said.

American collector Leonard Braun said he has quite a few Jamaica pins but those are kept safely at home.

"I have Jamaican pins but I wouldn't wear them because I will never trade those," he told the Observer.

New Yorker Ed Schneider said he received one of his best Jamaican pins when the bobsled team competed in Salt Lake.

"I was one of the athletes driver and I got my pin then," he said proudly.

Ray Erwin, also of the United States, said he started collecting pins in 1981 and has been able to source some 15,000 pins from the 11 Games he has attended.

Explaining how he became a pin trader, Erwin said he worked with a company which was a sponsor for the 1984 Olympic Games.

"The president gave me a bag of pins to give sponsors and they started giving me their pins in return and then a guy told me about pin trading and that is how I got involved," he recalled.

Braun said he started collecting pins when he worked as a volunteer for the 1984 Olympic Games. He said he started off sourcing swim meet pins for his daughter, who was competing and that is when he discovered the Olympics craze. His personal collection now stands at 20,000 pins collected at 11 Games.

Schneider said his pin trading hobby started in 1976 when he won a pin. It was this pin he traded when the Olympic Games came to Los Angeles in 1984 and that was to be the beginning of a hobby which has seen him collecting some 17,000 pins to date.

While these persons do it solely for the hobby there are others who collect the pins for bidding, with many of the pins being sold on ebay.

While some persons collect every pin, the more dedicated collectors tend to specialise.

"The real collectors have no interest in the pins that you are able to buy in stores," Braun said.





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