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Hundreds turn out for Olympic pin trading

10:38 AM, Aug 2, 2012   |    comments
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11ALIVE COVERAGE OF THE SUMMER GAMES

ATLANTA -- A group of around 20 that gathers monthly to trade Olympic memorabilia swelled to close to 250 at the Varsity in Atlanta Wednesday.

The Atlanta Pin Collectors club held a special meeting with 11Alive to celebrate the 2012 London Summer Games, reminisce about the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games and trade, sell and buy pins and souvenirs.

Olympic fans from around metro Atlanta brought pins they'd collected over the years in hopes of finding a rare gem: a limited edition or rare pin that might have more value than the typical $1, $2 or $3 pin. 

In attendance was artist and photographer Chuck Williams, who designed a coveted Varsity Pin that was confiscated by the International Olympic Committee in 1996 because it featured onion rings in the shape of Olympic Rings. Williams said he and his children designed the pin and fewer than 1000 are in circulation out of the original 2500 produced. Several sold for $300 at Wednesday's event. 

Debbie Peters of Lawrenceville was surprised to learn her Varsity Pin was so in demand. She didn't sell it Wednesday, but said she was open to selling it in the future.

1956 Track and Field Bronze Medalist Isabelle Daniels Holston was also in attendance. She brought a collection of 1996 pins but said she planned to bring her 1956 memorabilia to a future event.

The vast majority of pins and souvenirs traded hold only sentimental value, but collectors say it is the thrill of the hunt that keeps them trading. Most are seeking to complete collections in certain categories, such as equestrian events, paralympics or news media pins. 

In an Olympic Trivia Contest, 11Alive's Valerie Hoff gave away a limited amount of 11Alive Olympic pins as well as posters featuring the Olympic painting famed artist Steve Penley did for 11Alive and other Olympic souvenirs. (In the hot, steamy weather, our Wizometer Fans were also in demand!)

The Atlanta Pin Collectors Club normally holds a pin gathering the third Wednesday of the month at the Varsity at 61 North Avenue.  The meetings are open to the public.  

The Atlanta Pin Collectors Club is also hosting a National Pin Collectors Event September 28 through 30 at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta. It is open to the public as well. To learn more about Olympic Fair, click here.

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