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I want to thank everybody for their assistance in both collecting pins and their advice. I gave a shout out to the website as well. here is what I wrote, but was edited by the newspaper:

Pin trading mania

"Olympic pin trading is "like another event"

The 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver are underway, but the first event started months ago.

I have been collecting Olympic pins since 2004, but when Vancouver was awarded the 2010 Games, I went into Olympic mania. I was tuned onto the pin collecting craze with the help of banners on gamesbids.com, an Olympics fanatics site where, among other things, maniacs collect retail and corporate pins promoting the Olympics.

While not known among casual fans of the Olympics, pin trading is a high pressure competitive event that brings the spirit of the Olympics from the world.

Collector ******** ********* has been to six Olympics and plans to travel to Vancouver. He discussed the phenomenon of Olympic pin trading with the newspaper. ******* said his favorite Olympic memory was "standing in the middle of a walking only street in Beijing, China trading pins. A man with a big sombrero hat (from Mexico) came up to trade pins ...when another man (from Canada) approached us and wanted to trade pins" *******explained, "We had our picture taken and pledged to meet in London."

******* believes Olympic pin collecting is much more than a hobby. "Pin trading is an opener to conversation, a way to meet people," he said. "Wear a few pins...and you have instant conversations with 90 or so countries. As you wait in line for an event, the people behind you will ask about your pins. Where did you get them? Do you trade?....So, whether you trade pins for your collection or not, it is fun to trade, shake hands, and you have new friends"

******* was so enthusiastic to say, "Pin trading is like another event."

******* also distinguished the difference between trading and collecting. " Collecting pins is another topic all together but it is this feature that draws out the pin trading," he explained. "I try to tell people to pick a sub-topic ... [like] mascot pins, event pins, country pins, media pins, snowflake pins, and try and get them all." He continued, "In the meantime, you'll meet hundreds of people I cannot tell you how many cupsof coffee I have had around the world over pins as I travel to the Olympics."

The pin searching has not come without controversy. Among the mostly sought after pins has been the dual Canada-Taiwan flag pin and the Taiwan "Welcome to Vancouver" pin. What makes these pins rare is the fact that Taiwan is not a recognized country by China and their flag is forbidden from being shown at the Olympics or on Olympic merchandise. There are some still being sold on eBay, which have fetched $20 - 50 per pin.

The retail pins are being sold through the Bay and corporate sponsors have also plenty of pins to be collected and traded . National Olympic Committees (NOCs) are also creating pins for the athletes, coaches and support staff. Most of the time athletes will trade pins with other athletes, but sometimes they will trade with spectators.

Through the old fashioned art of snail mail and email to corporate sponsors and NOCs, I have been fortunate to receive over a dozen corporate pins , and NOC pins from Finland, Germany, Italy and Switzerland.

If anyone is interested in buying, trading, or collecting pins, it is very easy to accomplish. One final piece of advice with pin collecting is to be patient. Often when you try to contact sponsors for pins, you do not hear back from them at all. This only makes for a pleasant surprise when you find free pins from them in the mail.

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