This month we take a look at how London has been represented on the retail pins issued so far. This host city has a number of iconic buildings, locations and forms of transport that are known throughout the world and the pins issued to date focus on a number of these famous landmarks.
The buildings across London range from historic castles and palaces to new and modern glass and steel structures. A wide range of these buildings have been used as the subjects of the pins we have seen.
The very first set of pins issued that featured London landmarks was the 'London at Night' set issued in 2009. This is a framed collection of ten pins, which show historic buildings such as Buckingham Palace and the Houses of Parliament.
They are gold coloured pins with sparkly black backgrounds giving the impression of the buildings at night under a starry sky. The pins form a continuous skyline when arranged in the correct order and were highly sought after on their initial release. These are limited to 5,000 sets worldwide.
More of London’s famous buildings are shown in the 'London Landmarks' set of 10 pins all available individually. These have a more modern feel to them using silver to illustrate the landmark as a silhouette and muted 2012 brand colours as the background. One of London's newer buildings, City Hall, is part of this this set launched in 2010 which is again limited to 5,000 pieces.
London has a number of famous street and permanent markets that are popular with locals and tourists alike. An early set of London 2012 pins issued in 2009 shows six of these markets and they are all available individually. A street sign and an appropriate symbol represent each location from the market; for example Borough market is represented by food and drink. Greenwich market, which is very close to the Equestrian venue, is represented in this series. Each pin is limited to 3,000 pieces.
Parks and Bridges
London has a number of large green spaces and parks and eight of the most well known are the subjects of the Royal Parks set issued in 2010.
Each pin is shaped to mirror the perimeter of the park, has a dark green background, the name of the park in silver and an image that represents the park – for example the pin for Hyde Park, another Olympic Games venue, shows the Serpentine lake where part of the triathlon will be contested.
The River Thames bisects London and has many famous bridges that cross it in the centre of the city. Six of these bridges are shown in set of pins issued late in 2011.
The bridges range from the historic Albert and Tower bridges to the modern Millennium Bridge. These pins are only available as a jigsaw set and they join to form a portion of the river with the bridges shown in their relative positions. The park pins are limited to 3,000 pieces and the bridge pins to 5,000.
The Greater London region is formed of 33 boroughs. In late 2009, LOCOG ran an online poll to allow residents of each borough to vote for a local landmark from a shortlist. The chosen landmark would form the subject of a pin to represent that borough. All 33 pins were then issued in spring 2010 both individually and in a very limited edition set (100 pieces).
These pins have proved popular with London residents, as they are able to buy ‘their’ borough’s pin. Each pin used a geometric shape or ‘shard’ as the background with a brand colour and the landmark picked out in silver. The London Borough of Merton chose the Wimbledon Centre Court building where Olympic tennis will be contested this year. Each pin was limited to 3,000 pieces and a few of the borough pins have now sold out.
Red Buses and Black Taxis
As well as buildings and locations across the capital, London is also known for two of its iconic forms of transport – the red London bus and the black cab. Both have been the subjects of pins.
The red double decker bus is available with both Olympic and Paralympic mascots and logos while the taxi is available with Union flag, Olympic or Paralympic logos. This pin has proved very popular with locals and tourists alike. The bus pins are limited to 100,000 and the taxi pins to 50,000.
Mascots – Uniforms and Famous Landmarks
Although I have mentioned mascot pins in a previous article, I couldn’t mention London themed pins without talking about Wenlock and Mandeville in their guards’ uniforms.
A number of pins show them dressed as royal guards or London police in front of locations such as the Tower of London or 10 Downing Street. However they can also been found in more routine locations, such as by a post box or a red telephone box.
Landlines and Brand Colours
One of the London 2012 brand elements is the pink and blue linedrawings of locations and pictograms. This styling has been used in afew sets of London themed pins and the results give a very dynamic andmodern edge to traditional London locations such as Big Ben and StPaul’s Cathedral.
Lord Mayor of London
Finally for this piece, having discussed buildings, parks, bridges, transport and mascots, I finish with history.
The Lord Mayor of London is a role, which has existed for hundreds of years in the city of London. The Lord Mayor and the ceremonial coach were the subjects of a set of pins issued in 2010 and limited to 5,000 pieces. If you plan to travel to London for the Games, do try to make time to view the Lord Mayor’s coach in its new gallery at the Museum of London at London Wall.
As always, this article provides only a high level overview of the pins available. If you would like to see more, then take a look at the London page on the London Pins website - http://www.londonpins.co.uk/invlondon.shtml.
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.