June 23, 2021

The sport of pin traders

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Pin Collection 3Sitting on the floor outside of the Rio 2016 Main Press Centre is Bud Kling. Kling, in a USA baseball cap, has three official Olympic lanyards draped around his neck, on the end of them many Olympic pins. Waving his hand, Kling calls out to all that peak at his pin collection, “it’s the best trade of all.”A noticeably larger red and black turtle pin stands out in Kling’s collection, pointing to the pin and graciously holding the recently traded 2016 gold turtle pin, Kling says “That’s the Cayman Islands 2015 Pan American Games’ pin. I like design and attractiveness of a pin. There are certain entities and certain NOCs [National Olympic Committees], Cayman Islands is one of them, that we want their pins. The smaller the team the harder it is to get the pins.”
Acknowledging the rarity of the Cayman Islands pin, Kling talks about his memories of speaking to one of Cayman’s athletes.
“Well usually your team is small, so they are very relaxed ‘hang loose’ people so when we are trading pins they tend to sit with us and chat for about an hour with some ice tea or, maybe we’d share a beer. I have always loved the Cayman team because they are really good.”
A collection dating back more than 30 years, Kling admits once you start, you just can’t stop.
“I started in 1984 in Los Angeles, I was working as an interview coordinator for ABC and I worked at basketball. They gave us little basketball pins I went over I saw people starting to trade them, I went home started looking for pins, went to my local bank, went to the stores and started buying everything I could find. I got the bug and I’ve been doing it ever since.”
Kling, along with seven other pin traders keep their eyes and ears open staying alert for the pins they are hunting for, that special pin could appear at any moment.
“I really don’t have [a favorite pin]. You know it’s probably the pin that is hard to get that I don’t have right now. I’d say that is my favorite pin and then when I get it I’ll have a new favorite pin. We are hunters, we just don’t have guns.”
His favorite, which is also the hardest pin to put your hands on at the Olympic Games is a Japanese broadcasting company’s pin – the Pikachu.
“You sort of learn who the hard ones to get are and who the creative ones are and we all go after them. The Japanese broadcast has a sign on the door of their office that says ‘We are out of pins!’.”
Kling pauses and greets a familiar face, a young volunteer from the Rio 2016 Samsung store, “Do you want to exchange some?” she asks. Kling scans his collection and pulls out ‘the best trade of all’, a small white pin representing the torch relay from 2015 Special Olympic Games.
“The young lady started off with nothing, I gave her a few pins today she is back and I gave her another pin. It’s the friendships, thank God we have the internet and Facebook. I visited people all over the world all this because of these silly little metal things.”
One of the heavy duty guys, Kling calls himself has over 30,000 pins in his personal collection.
“That’s not counting traders. Traders more than that, but I do this a lot. I’ve been trading pins for a long, long time.”
Kling from California has been to 15 Olympic Games, four Youth Olympic Games, two Pan American and Asian Games and one Central Caribbean Games.
“Just because it’s so much fun, where else can you meet and have such interactions with people from all over the world and having friends all over the world.”
Kling and many other pin collectors are members of the official fan club titled ‘Olympian Collectors Club’.
With the Olympic Games coming to an end, it is expected that about 800 types of pins have been created for the first edition of the Olympic and Paralympic Games to be held in South America.
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