It’s a Zirbelnuss. 1979.

Among the ranks of those competing at the 1979 World Junior Figure Skating Championships in Augsburg, West Germany, were four future World Champions: Elaine Zayak of the U.S., who also won the 1979 World Junior title; Alexandr Fadeev of the Soviet Union; Sergei Ponomarenko of the Soviet Union (at the time with partner Tatiana Durasova); and Lloyd Eisler of Canada (at the time with partner Lorri Baier). Ponomarenko would go on to become the most decorated of the four and ultimately claim three World titles, four European titles, and Olympic gold in 1992 in Albertville, France, with partner and wife Marina Klimova.

It is always interesting when a pin is unusual or different; and although the reasons for a difference may not always be exceptional, they are nonetheless interesting. Such is the case with the pin issued for the 1979 World Junior Championships. First, the shape is unusual—a tapered square with gracefully rounded corners. Second, it features an unusual element with a criss-cross pattern that most outside of Augsburg would not recognize. Is the shape a pineapple, an artichoke, a tennis racket, an antenna of some sort … perhaps a pinecone? Third, the arrangement of the type—”World Junior Figure Skating Championships 1979″—along the top edge of the pin breaks tradition since content that “snakes” to the shape of a pin is typically only seen on those that are circular. Where the pin falls short is in quality. The epoxy-covered souvenir typically exhibits production flaws, such as tiny bubbles, in the surface.

It is always interesting when a pin is unusual or different; and although the reasons for a difference may not always be exceptional, they are nonetheless interesting.

But beneath the lowly epoxy lies a colorful design, even though time has not been kind to the original white color used, which today will almost always show heavy yellowing. Accenting the pin is a world globe executed in green and a silver skate blade that stands prominently just below the center line of the pin. The bottom of the pin is anchored by the event location, “Augsburg,” which also snakes to the shape of the pin. When compared with other pins issued for World Junior Championships in the era, the 1979 pin is large, measuring approximately 1-1/2″ x 1-1/2″ (3.8 cm x 3.8 cm).

And what of that mysterious shape with the criss-cross pattern? After some internet sleuthing, it is revealed to be none other than a Zirbelnuss, or pinecone, and is the coat of arms of the city of Augsburg. For trivia lovers: the Zirbelnuss is shown in the “closed” position.

Enjoy It’s a Zirbelnuss. 1979.


1979 World Junior Championships Gallery

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