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Collectors crazy for pavilion pins

AN official at the Saudi Arabia Pavilion said he had never thought of the badge he wore as valuable jewelry - but a limited-edition pin for senior officials at the pavilion is being offered for sale on the Internet at 10,000 yuan (US$1,474).

Collecting and trading souvenir pins has become the latest trend among Expo visitors, workers and volunteers at the site, and many pins made by pavilions to give to staff or sell to visitors are becoming available outside the Expo site, especially at some online stores.

On one popular shopping website, Expo souvenir pins are available at more than 170 virtual stores with prices ranging from 20 yuan to the Saudi pin's 10,000 yuan.

The Saudi pin - two gold swords supporting a palm tree - is priced at 10,000 yuan because the seller claims there was only a limited quantity and they were only presented to VIP visitors.

Other expensive pins include the UK Pavilion's dandelion pin that costs 695 yuan and a yellow crown pin from the Netherlands Pavilion at 688 yuan.

A golden portrait pin of Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen from the Odense Pavilion is 599 yuan.

The cheapest pin on offer is one with a simple Chinese cabbage design and sells for just 2 yuan. The seller said many people bought these pins to exchange with staff at foreign pavilions.

Pins selling for less than 100 yuan are proving the most popular.

Maple leaf pins from the Canada Pavilion selling at 30 yuan were among the most popular, according to the website.

Many sellers claim they or their friends are staff working at pavilions and that was how they got the pins.

The seller of the expensive Saudi pin said he and his wife were both staff at an Expo pavilion and got the pin by swapping pins with a member of the Saudi staff.

A press officer for the Saudi pavilion confirmed that the pin was rather rare.

They were made before the Expo opened for several high-level pavilion staff, but she was still surprised at the online price.

Another seller claimed he worked at the Italy Pavilion and could get the pins of all the pavilions.

He was also offering the stamp of the Italy Pavilion for 100 yuan although the pavilion had stopped its stamping service last month.

An official at the Italy Pavilion said staffs were not being encouraged to get involved in pin selling.

The pavilion's pins were available in its gift shop and people can buy them there, she said.

A small amount of trading among visitors and staff was allowed, said Qiu Yichuan, assistant director of the Law Department of the Expo Bureau. But if people were selling a large number of pins for profit that would be illegal, he said.


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