"Internal" Pins Prove Popular Among London Collectors

(ATR) Paul McGill, our London pins expert, returns with his monthly feature "Pin Points" exclusively for Around the Rings. This month, his focus switches to "internal" pins only distributed to select groups of LOCOG and ODA staff and guests ... 

(ATR) Paul McGill, our London pins expert, returns with his monthly feature exclusively for Around the Rings.

This month, he says, his focus switches to "internal" pins. Just like the retail pins, they are designed for and released by the official organizers of the Games. However, unlike the retail pins, they are only distributed to select groups of organizing or construction staff or to the guests of these companies who attend certain events or gatherings.

Sought After Pins

Amongst the UK collectors in particular, the internal pins are prized at the moment. Perhaps the small number of media or NOC pins designed for London 2012 to date has meant that the internal pins have captured the attention of the "home" collectors. They certainly seem to appeal to UK collectors more than international collectors as a rule.

Who’s Who

Before we proceed, a very brief explanation of the two organizations that issue internal pins. The difference between these two bodies becomes apparent when we look at the design of some of the pins.

LOCOG (London Organizing Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games) is the organization that stages the Games. They are responsible for running the events, ticketing, merchandise, promotion, etc.

The ODA (Olympic Delivery Authority) is responsible for building the venues and establishing the Olympic Park. Once they have done their job, the park and venues are handed to LOCOG. It's clear that the ODA pins have a "construction" feel to some of their subjects.

The ODA Pins – Recognizing People

The pins issued by the Olympic Delivery Authority focus very clearly on the people building the venues and the park not only as the subjects of the pins but also as the recipients.

The first pins issued by the ODA were seen in the summer of 2009 and showed a yellow builders hat with either a blue logo or a Paralympics logo. This pin was not limited in issue size and recognizes the entire workforce on the park. It appears to have been distributed freely amongst the construction teams.

The next pin the ODA released was in June 2010 and was issued to recognize the environmental credentials of the building program. It combined the image of the world being held in a hand and the words "Be considerate". The pin was created by the ODA’s sustainability manager as part of an internal design competition. The pin is limited to 1,000 pieces and was handed to workers to reward good practice in environmental management.

The latter part of 2010 saw the release of six pins that covered the areas of Health & Safety and Quality Assurance. The six pins consisted of three designs each issued with both Olympic and Paralympic variants. While there were 1,000 of each of the Heath & Safety pins, there were only 500 of each of the Quality pins, which makes them some of the most rare ODA pins issued.

The other "people"-focused pins have recognized the Logistics and Security Team and the legacy left by the construction training programs. All of these pins have been distributed to select groups amongst the workforce to reward effort and the commitment to the construction program.

ODA - The Venue Pins

The remaining pins issued by the ODA celebrate not only the venues built on the Olympic Park, but the fact that every structure was delivered by a team of people.

Each of the venue pins contains the words "A great team effort" embossed into the background. The venues that have been represented on these pins are the velodrome, the Olympic stadium, the aquatics centre, the handball arena, the basketball arena, the Olympic village and the media complex.

In addition there are pins to recognize the landscape and public realms team who are constructing the rivers, parks and gardens within the Olympic Park, the arts and culture team responsible for the public art installations, the structures, bridges and highways teams and lastly the energy centre – one of the first buildings to be completed on the site.

Like the venue pins, each pin was produced in two varieties, one with an Olympic Games logo and one with a Paralympic Games logo.

None of the venue pins are limited in issue size as they can be reordered as required. Each style of pin was issued to those workers who contributed to the particular venue or belonged to the specific team. Therefore depending on the numbers of workers or staff involved, some of these pins are easier to find than others. The sheer size of the Olympic Village means that these pins are not as difficult to find on auction sites or as trades as perhaps the handball arena that required a smaller workforce.

The final pins to mention in this section are those issued at one year to go when the phase known as "The Big Build" was completed.

These two pins show a worker in a high-visibility jacket with the words "A great job. Well done" printed on the pin. These pins were a recognition that all the major venue construction was complete and that the ODA was into the final phase of delivery that sees the Olympic Park ready for the Games. Once again, there are only 500 of each of these pins, which means they are some of the hardest ODA pins to find.


Where the ODA pins took the people and the venues as their principal subjects, the LOCOG pins tend to mark events and teams.

In the run up to the Games, LOCOG have held a number of briefings and workshops aimed at particular groups of people – partners, licensees and the media. Many of these events have had a pin issued which was distributed to the delegates.

The earliest pins issued by LOCOG were for a partner workshop held in February 2009. The pin was available in Olympic and Paralympic varieties. There were 300 of each produced and they were only issued to attendees of the workshop.

When the first one appeared on eBay in the spring of 2009, it reached a record sum for a London 2012 pin at the time and they remain rare to this day. There have been partner workshop pins issued for 2010 and 2011.

The next pins issued by LOCOG were small silver versions of the Olympic and Paralympic Games logos. They were distributed to staff in December 2009 as seasonal gifts – one pin per staff member.

Each year since 2009, LOCOG have held a multi-day briefing for members of the world’s press. It allows the media to see the plans for the Games and understand what facilities will be available to them. At each briefing, delegates have been issued a pin that displays an item of press paraphernalia. In 2009 it was a notebook, in 2010 a camera and in 2011 a laptop. These are a very attractive set of pins limited to 300, 500 and 750 pieces respectively.

Volunteer Pins

Many readers will be familiar with the Games Maker scheme – the games-time volunteer program. However, LOCOG have a number of pre-games volunteers called Trailblazers. The scheme has been running for a few years and the people volunteer a few hours each week in the main LOCOG offices. Each volunteer can ‘earn’ a Trailblazer pin depending on the number of hours they have dedicated to the program – bronze for 250 hours, silver for 500 hours and gold for 1,000 hours. These pins are limited to 350, 100 and 50 pieces respectively, but their personal value to the recipient means that they are unlikely to be traded or sold.

Rewarding Inspiration and Dedication

The Inspire pin is issued to those people or organizations that have been recognized as creating a non-profit program or scheme for the benefit of others that has been directly inspired by London 2012. This is not a limited issue pin, however there is a rigorous selection program in order to qualify.

In July 2011, every member of staff at LOCOG and the ODA was issued with a "1 year to go" pin which combined a silver shard and a Union Flag logo with the words "Thank You" engraved on the reverse. Although there are 4,250 of these in circulation, they do not appear very often for trade or on eBay.


The final set of pins issued by LOCOG recognize some of the teams in the organization. Each team is responsible for designing their own pin and each has decided to use the mascots.

The first of these pins came from the Rate Card team and there have also been pins from the Catering, Cleaning and Waste team as well as the technology team and the finance area. These appear to be very precious to their recipients, as none has appeared for trade or sale to date.

In summary, the internal pins cover a wide range of themes and subjects all of which are very personal to those that receive the pins. Within this group there are some "mini" collections that have proved popular with pin traders such as the press pins and the venue pins. Given that we are now less than five months to the Games and construction is all but complete, we are unlikely to see many more ODA pins. However, there may still be more LOCOG pins issued, for example, to reward the Games Makers. A full list of internal pins can be found on the London Pins website.

Paul McGill runs the collectors’ website www.londonpins.co.uk. This non-commercial website aims to be the definitive source for London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic pin information. The site contains a comprehensive catalogue of all the London Olympic pins as well as news articles and background on pins and pin collecting.

Visit the ATR Pin Points - London Collectibles webpage, dedicated to London 2012 pins.

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