1973 European Championships at The Netropolitan Museum of Figure Skating Pins
Sports event logos and designs can at worst be poorly conceived and executed and at best be both well-designed and memorable. It is a clear case of the latter for the 1973 European Figure Skating Championships, contested in Cologne, West Germany. The intricate, multi-layered design of the skate boot logo is exceptional, making the pins that commemorate this event standouts in every way.
The tapestry of colors, patterns, and shapes seen in the skate boot is beguiling. What does it all mean, for surely the elements must have cultural, regional, or even national significance? To find out, we sent a message to the Deutsche Eislauf-Union (DEU), but even after a follow-up inquiry, The Netropolitan did not receive a reply. Perhaps there is no one today at the DEU who knows the history of this most interesting logo design. So, we were left to our devices and to speculation.
The 1973 European Figure Skating Championships was the first of this annual event to issue pins made using the growing-in-popularity, inexpensive epoxy dome manufacturing process.
The skating boot has a decidedly Victorian feel, looking a bit more like ladies footwear from that era than a 1970s skating boot. Contrasting sharply with the boot is a more modern blade, shortened and somewhat stylized in design. The tapestry that fills the boot—interesting and various shapes in reds, oranges, yellows, greens, browns, blues, whites, and more—appears that it could be any of these things, or something else entirely if left solely to the imagination: stained glass, tapestry art, a map or grid (perhaps of the city of Cologne), a patchwork quilt, an abstract collage, a micromosaic. If anyone knows the significance of the design, email the Netropolitan and this blog will be updated.
Now to the figure skating pins themselves. The 1973 European Championships was the first of this annual event to issue pins made using the growing-in-popularity, inexpensive epoxy dome manufacturing process.1 The main logo pin from 1973, shown first in the gallery, features the colorful skate boot and blade at its center on an overall off-white background, surrounded on the left, top, and bottom by the event name, date, and location in gold lettering: “Europameisterschaften Eiskunstlaufen, vom 6.-11. Febr. 1973, in Köln.” On a gold-color base metal, the pin measures approximately 1-3/16″ square (3 cm) and is of fine quality and substantial weight for its size. It must be noted, now nearly 50 years on from the event, that heavy yellowing is typically seen in the once-white areas.
Next in the gallery are examples of special-issue pins for those who had a particular involvement with the event. Up to the mid-1970s, it was still common for these special pins to be issued, although that practice eventually phased out, with only a handful of exceptions seen in subsequent years. Showing here are pins produced for and given only to:
- ISU Delegate (“ISU”)
- Competitor (“Teilnehmer”)
- Judge (“Preisrichter”)
- TV/Radio (“TV/Radio”)
- Press (“Presse”)
- Organizing Committee (“Organisation”)
These pins carry the same overall design as the logo pin but have a special designation area beneath, each with a unique background color. The pins measure approximately 1-3/16″ x 1-3/8″ (3 cm x 3.5 cm) each. All those shown, with the exception of the ISU pin, feature an epoxy dome over the designation, while the ISU pin is treated differently, with a shiny gold metal finish and raised lettering. All of these pins would have been made in limited number.
The pins from the 1973 European Championships are more fine examples of the excellence, order, and discipline seen in German graphic design. Nothing is out of place, yet there is a necessary tension in the arrangement of the elements that makes it all work beautifully well.
Enjoy this week’s figure skating pins blog: Tapestry On Ice. 1973.
1A few pins from the 1970 European Figure Skating Championships, held in Leningrad, USSR, were covered with a plastic material, but they were not epoxy dome.
1973 European Figure Skating Championships Pin Gallery
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