Lighting the Way. 1974.

Last Updated on November 9, 2020 by Netropolitan Museum

Rhode Island, the smallest state of the United States, conjures thoughts of America’s most wealthy and influential enjoying summers in mansions (originally called “cottages”) along fashionable Bellevue Avenue in Newport. It was the place to see and be seen at the turn of the 20th century. Think big names like Vanderbilt, Astor, and Levinson. Some 70+ years later in the state’s capital of Providence, just about 30 miles north of Newport, the 1974 U.S. Figure Skating Championships came to town at the then-newly built Civic Center. You can think big names here, too: Hamill, McKellen, O’Connor and Millns, and Militano and Johns. Providence has played a periodic part in U.S. figure skating history, having also hosted the U.S. Championships in 1930 (big name: Vinson) and 1995 (big name: Kwan).

The design of the pin produced for the 1974 U.S. Championships incorporates an iconic sight in Rhode Island: a lighthouse. There remain 21 working lighthouses in the state today, each used to help guide mariners over many decades. Although it isn’t clear if the silhouette on the pin depicts a specific lighthouse, or is instead a generic representation, it is clear that the pin was made in the 1970s. On a silver-color base metal, the 1-1/8″ diameter (2.8575 cm) souvenir features deep red and blue colors, hinting at patriotism, a design direction popular in the mid-1970s. The colors are applied effectively and allow the elements reversed to the base metal color to stand out well.

The design of the pin produced for the 1974 U.S. Championships incorporates an iconic sight in Rhode Island: a lighthouse.

Along the top circumference of the pin is the event name: “United States Nationals” (a more colloquial reference, used in various forms until the late 1980s in place of the more formal “U.S. Figure Skating Championships”). At the center of the pin is the lighthouse and below that a skate blade, making it unmistakable which sport’s “Nationals” this pin commemorates. The lighthouse beacon shines brightly with “74” superimposed over it. Along the bottom circumference is the event location: “Providence R.I.”

The pin is silk-screened, a delicate finish that is easily scratched and highly susceptible to damage. Although silk-screening allows for a smooth and flat surface that lends a sleek and modern look, like for the 1974 Providence pin, few pins issued for major figure skating championships have used the method. Two other U.S. Championships pins produced using the silk-screen process are 1970 Tulsa (read the blog here) and 1978 Portland (Oregon).

Enjoy Lighting the Way. 1974.

1974 U.S. Championships Gallery

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