Pin Points - Collectors Fair Plans Unaffected by Greek Riots

(ATR) The Greek financial crisis as well as violent rioting and protests have not disrupted plans for the 18th World Olympic Collectors Fair in Athens. ATR's Karen Rosen reports.

(ATR) The Greek financial crisis as well as violent rioting and protests have not disrupted plans for the 18th World Olympic Collectors Fair in Athens, to be held May 17-20 at the historic Zappeion Megaron.

Invitations for the fair, which is hosted by the International Olympic Committee and the Hellenic Olympic Committee, have been sent to collectors around the world.

Stathis Douramakos, a Greek memorabilia dealer who is on the organizing committee, tells Around the Rings that funding was already secured before the recent riots.

"The weather is going to be good, hopefully no bad events happen in the center of Athens," he says. "Even if they do, we are not going to be close to what you see on TV. The things you see happening on TV are happening in a range of 100 meters, and outside the area, it's very safe."

About 120-150 tables will be available and Douramakos said Greek collectors will take about 50 of them.

All participants in the fair will receive free accreditation passes, compliments of the Hellenic Olympic Committee, to attend the Olympic flame handover ceremony on May 17 at the Panathenaic Stadium. A limited number of passes also are available for the lighting ceremony on May 10 in Olympia. The fair will also be held in conjunction with an Olympic memorabilia exhibition May 15-20.

The Hellenic Post will operate an office in Zappeion, known as the first building in the world to be constructed in order to serve Olympic needs.

Douramakos said he will not attend the London Olympics because of the difficulty finding accommodations, and says the fair is an alternative to the Games.

"I am expecting many people from overseas to do the same thing – plan to come to Greece and live the Olympic experience through the lighting of the flame in Olympia and the handover of the flame in Panathenaic Stadium," he says.

Douramakos adds that Greeks don't blame the costly 2004 Olympics for their woes, even though they acknowledge that the Games were not good financially for the country.

"It can't get any worse; it can only get better," he tells ATR. "We're optimistic. We still have our sun and our sea. No one can take that away from us."

For more information on the fair, click here.

Memorabilia Auction Closing Saturday

Gold Medal Collectibles, based in Ontario, Calif., is offering 858 lots in its 14th auction, which will close Saturday at 2 p.m. EST. For information, click here.

Rare items include an 1896 Athens official report in English and German with original binding (estimate of $5,000), a 1976 Innsbruck gold medal prototype ($14,000), a rareNew York City Greeting Medal for the homecoming of victorious American athletes from the 1908 London Olympics (estimate of $3,000), and the bid book for the 1960 Squaw Valley Olympics, which is a simple softbound book with spiral binding ($300).

There are also more than 50 lots featuring autographed memorabilia, including a Juan Antonio Samaranch photo, plus business card ($40), a Usain Bolt photo ($100), the Katarina Witt Playboy magazine issue ($50) and a Newsweek magazine cover signed by Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson ($500).

Salt Lake City Anniversary Pin

Pin trading returned to the 2002 Olympic host city over the weekend as part of the 10th anniversary celebration with booths at The Gateway in downtown Salt Lake City,in Park City and at the speedskating oval in Kearns.

Besides the perennially popular green Jell-O pin, a limited-edition 10th anniversary pin was also coveted by collectors. It is now available on eBay for $9.99, or $11.99 with a "buy it now."

Olympic anniversary T-shirts, hats and water bottles were also on sale at the Park City celebration with proceeds going to youth sport programs.

Olympic Memorabilia Auction Set

The Feldman Express online auction will take place Feb. 29 at 2 p.m. CET. This auction will offer more than 350 Olympic stamps and memorabilia lots with many items starting below $100. London 1948 items include photographs, participation medals, programs and more. Additional information can be found here.

Sochi 2014 Unveils Olympic Coins

Commemorative coins featuring the three mascots of the Sochi 2014 Winter Games will be released into circulation this year. There will be approximately 10 million coins featuring the Polar Bear, the Hare and the Leopard, according to Olympic organizers. For more information, click here.

And be sure to check out Pin Pointsevery Thursday for the latest news on pin collecting.

Reported by Karen Rosen and Evan Owens

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