Behind the Iron Curtain. 1955.

1955 European Championships at The Netropolitan Museum of Figure Skating Pins

Creativity and extra dimension define the pins and medal that commemorate the 1955 European Figure Skating Championships, which took place at City Park Ice Rink, a massive outdoor facility in central Budapest, Hungary. It was the third time the city had hosted the annual test to determine Europe’s best figure skaters but only the second time in post-World War II Europe that the event had been held behind the so-called “Iron Curtain.” Those gathered for the event were treated to a figure skating pin unlike most others.

The main logo pin of the 1955 European Championships is somewhat diminutive, measuring approximately 13/16″ square (2.1 cm) and produced on a gold-colored base metal. What makes the pin unusual is a three-dimensional female figure skater, in a dynamic stag jump, layered over the base. It is one of the better representations of a figure skater ever used on a pin, with fine proportionality. Very often, figure skaters are depicted in abstract style or as a simple drawing instead of the “real person” style used here. Although the figure is primitive in production style, lacking fine detail, the muted gold finish contrasts well with the rich blue and white enamel that fill the pin. Beneath the skater is a line art representation of a portion of Matthias Church, a noted Budapest landmark. Stars dot the sky and add a subtle warmth. Along the outer edges of the pin, on white, is the event name, location, and year: “Műkorcsolya Európa-Bajnokság, Budapest, 1955.”

What makes the 1955 European Championships pin unusual is a three-dimensional female figure skater, in a dynamic stag jump, layered over the base of the pin.

Also in the gallery are a pin produced for and given to judges who officiated at the event and a participation medal that likely was given only to competitors and officials. The judge’s pin is comprised of three components: at the top, a metal, silver-colored bar decorated with laurel leaves and twisted rope detail along the edges and marked “Jury” in the center; a double-layer, silk grosgrain ribbon that mimics the Hungarian flag; and the main logo pin affixed at the center of the ribbon. The judge’s pin measures approximately 1-3/4″ x 3-7/8″ (4.4 cm x 9.8 cm). It is a fine souvenir of a time when pins and badges were well-made and visually interesting.

The participant medal is similar in design to the main logo pin but executed in a significantly larger size, measuring approximately 1-3/4″ square (4.4 cm). The skater shows much more detail and is done in silver rather than the gold used for the logo pin.

The design of the items from the 1955 Championships stands in sharp contrast to the political and cultural atrocities that prevailed in Hungary during the decades-long Communist regime. The Hungarian Revolution of 1956, ultimately crushed by the Soviet Union, only briefly gave the people of Hungary hope for a free and prosperous society.

Enjoy this week’s figure skating pin blog: Behind the Iron Curtain. 1955.

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  • Copyright-protected image. Do not download or use without express written consent of the copyright holder.
Copyright-protected image. Do not download or use without express written consent of the copyright holder.

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