Pin craze reaches Olympic heights

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Jim Greensfelder went to the 1984 Olympic Games to see the athletic competition. A bag of pins turned him into a major collector of Olympic memorabilia.

A friend who worked for Xerox gave Greensfelder a bag of Xerox pins and told him to swap them. Greensfelder, a noncollector, at first was boggled by the concept. Then he got hooked big-time.

"I'd worked for Procter & Gamble for 25 years. I didn't even know they had pins," said Greensfelder, who was selling and swapping at the recent Olympic Memorabilia Show at Savage Mill.

Now, he has 10,000 Olympic pins and a room devoted to them. About seven years ago, he began collecting participation medals. The International Olympic Committee issues the medals, which are given to athletes, coaches and other officials.

"I got intrigued by the design," Greensfelder, of suburban Cincinnati, said. Since designs are limited, a goal of collecting one from each Olympics was reasonable.

"I have the world's largest collection of them," he says. "I have every known medal except three."

He says those from St. Louis are the rarest, since the 1904 Games were an adjunct to the World's Fair. Only 500 athletes were there, and World's Fair collectors also seek the medals. Medals from the first Winter Games, in 1924 in Chamonix, France, are also rare. Greensfelder said there are two designs from 1956, when the equestrian events were held in Stockholm, Sweden, and everything else in Melbourne, Australia.

He has built his collection by trading, buying at auctions and purchasing medals from athletes at the Games. Greensfelder said that athletes from countries where hard cash is rare are most willing to sell medals. His stock in trade is torches and winners' medals. "I try to get other pieces that might be of interest to people who have what I want," he said.

Studio's new idea

Donruss' Studio is wearing the credit card look this year. Cards are in a horizontal format with embossed names and statistics. Card front backgrounds mimic credit cards with National or American league logos in the background. There are replica signatures on the back (across a simulated tape, like a credit card). There are 200 regular cards plus Gold and Platinum Series insert sets. Gold and Platinum cards are printed on plastic.

Embossed baseball

Topps is bringing out a baseball edition of double-sided embossed cards. The T-MB cards debuted with an NBA set, and their baseball counterpart is due this month. There will be 140 cards, including a 24-card subset of award winners.

Impact NFL

SkyBox's 1995 edition of Impact NFL includes 30 top rookies, five players from each of the two expansion teams and a Super Bowl logo embossed on all San Francisco 49ers player cards. There are 200 regular cards and four insert sets.

Auto racing history on cards

Traks and Valvoline have teamed for a 101-card set tracing 100 years of auto racing history. It comes in a commemorative tin featuring Mark Martin's Valvoline car. The set is $12.95 plus proof of a qualifying purchase of oil or oil change that used Valvoline.

New metal

Highland Mint has added a bronze medallion of Don Mattingly and a silver medallion of Tony Gwynn to its lineup. It is also offering a set of silver medallions of 18 NFL stars.

Coming events

Through Sept. 5, "Babe Ruth: An Artistic Perspective," Babe Ruth Museum, 216 Emory St., (410) 727-1539.

Today-Tuesday, All-Star FanFest, Dallas Convention Center.

July 28-30, National Sports Collectors Convention, Cervantes Convention Center at America's Center, St. Louis, (713) 780-2252.

CARD OF THE WEEK

Fleer is wasting no time in getting out its 1995-96 NBA cards. There are 200 regular cards in four designs, one for each division, and five insert sets. Each 11-card pack will have a Flair "Hardwood Leader" card, part of a 27-card insert set featuring a statistical leader or award winner from each team. Look for them in August. (Shown is Jim Jackson.)

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