Black Ice in Tokyo. 1977.

1977 World Championships at The Netropolitan Museum of Figure Skating Pins

For the first time in World Figure Skating Championships history, the event was held outside Europe or North America when the 1977 World Championships came to Asia. The city of Tokyo, Japan, welcomed competitors from around the globe to Yoyogi National Stadium for the early March event on the infamous “black ice.” This was the same stadium where swimming and diving events had been contested at the Games of the XVIII Olympiad nearly 13 years earlier.

The 1977 World Championships brought with it figure skating pins that are both modern and well-produced although delicate because of the silk screen finish. And interestingly, this world event would be among the last to issue pins made expressly for competitors, officials, team leaders, and others, in addition to the main logo pin available to those who attended. A handsome pre-event pin in the shape of Mt. Fuji was distributed at some of the prior year’s major events to help bring attention to and encourage attendance at the first World Championships to be held in Japan.

An unusual shape, with gracefully rounded corners, sets the 1977 World Championships pin apart from the other, more ordinary rectangular or circular pins typically seen for events.

On display in the gallery below are eight pins and a participant medal that marked the championship. Shown first is the main event pin that features a sleek and modern logo, suggesting the letters “FSC” for “Figure Skating Championship” in its design and perhaps even hinting at the unique, swooping roofline of Yoyogi National Stadium. All content on the pin is in English. An unusual shape, with gracefully rounded corners, sets the pin apart from the other, more ordinary rectangular or circular pins typically seen for events. A vibrant and earthy color palette of blue, white, and green applied to a shiny, gold-colored metal, recessed into an outer silver-color base metal, further defines the pin. Enclosed in the “C” of the logo is the event location and year: “Tokyo 1977.” A skate blade anchors the content. At the bottom are the event name, along with a repeat of the location and year: “World Figure Skating Championships, Tokyo, 1977.” The pin measures approximately 1-1/8″ x 1-3/8″ (2.9 cm x 3.5 cm). If there is a criticism of the Tokyo pins, it is the redundancy of the location and year. It’s odd.

Following in the gallery are six special-issue pins made for and given only to selected participants of the event. Carrying the same overall design and elements as the logo pin but on a larger and more streamlined base shape, each pin measures approximately 1-1/4″ x 1-3/4″ (3.2 cm x 4.4 cm):

  • ISU Delegate (note the period missing after the “U”)
  • Competitor
  • Judge
  • Team Leader
  • Team Official
  • Press

All of the special-issue pins and the logo pin are produced with a delicate silk screen finish, easily susceptible to scratching. The pins were originally issued with a semi-transparent protective film that could be peeled away to reveal the crisp design beneath. Today, when a 1977 World Championships pin can be found, it generally will exhibit some surface damage (and often significant damage), and it is rare to find one with the original protective film still in place.

The pre-event pin issued for the event is featured next in the gallery. The all-enamel, cutout-style pin shows Mt. Fuji in a brilliant medium blue with the ever-present white snowcap. The pin is on a gold-color base metal. The then-in-use logo of the National Skating Union of Japan dominates the main section of the pin on the left, with the year, location, and event stacked to the right: “’77 Tokyo World’s.” This pin is rare and, according to reliable sources, was made in a highly limited number.

Last up is the participant medal issued for the event (face and obverse shown). The face carries a variation on the arrangement of the event logo, year, and location while the obverse features a female skater in an elegant layback spin. The slightly textured surface of the gold-color medal adds dimension and shine. It measures approximately 1-3/8″ in diameter (3.5 cm) and was presented in a custom box covered in royal blue velvet and lined with white moiré silk. The event logo is stamped in gold foil on the inside lid of the box, and the coin fits neatly into a niche in the center of the box.

All of the pins and medals shown here represent a high quality of craftsmanship and attention to detail that would be expected from Japan, which is well-known for a top-to-bottom approach to ensuring quality throughout a production process.

Enjoy this week’s figure skating pins blog: Black Ice in Tokyo. 1977.

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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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