Last Updated on November 26, 2022 by Netropolitan Museum
Profile: Lapel Pins from the 1981 World Figure Skating Championships, Hartford, Connecticut
The 1981 World Figure Skating Championships event, held at the Civic Center in Hartford, Connecticut, was chock full of firsts. To name a few: Scott Hamilton captured the first of his four consecutive world titles there. Similarly, the U.K.’s dynamic dance duo, Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean, took home their first world gold. At last, Switzerland claimed a world ladies’ title when Denise Biellmann took top honors. The revised judging system was used for the first time at a World Championship. It was the first World Championship after an Olympic year. And it was during the 1981 Worlds that the first two pins were acquired that would ultimately begin the collection featured here at The Netropolitan Museum of Figure Skating Pins.
Two main logo pins, in different sizes, were available for purchase by those who attended the event. The modern, colorful logo not only ushered in the early 1980s but reflects the design mood of the time. The multi-color background mimics the color spectrum, with a silhouette of a figure skater, in white, at the center. The Curator of The Netropolitan feels the perspective is somewhat “off” in the illustration: although the skating leg aims directly ahead, the rest of the skater’s body is oddly twisted in another direction. Arranged neatly below the skater, on alternating bands of color, are the event year, name, and location: “1981, Worlds, Hartford.” The colloquial “Worlds” replaces the longer formal name, World Figure Skating Championships.
The modern, colorful design of the 1981 World Figure Skating Championships pin ushered in the early 1980s and reflects the design mood of the time.
The small version of the pin was produced with both gold-color and silver-color base metals and with two different styles of clasps. It measures approximately 5/8″ in diameter (1.6 cm) while the large version is on a silver-color base metal and measures approximately 1‑1/2″ in diameter (3.8 cm).
For a few years following the event, the large version with a “creased” back was highly sought after by collectors. As the story goes, the stamp mold used to produce the pins became damaged. As a result, a portion of the pins have a crease running through the waffle pattern on the reverse. Things like this once mattered to collectors because it brought color to the history of the pins, making them more desirable as variations. In the gallery are both versions of the logo pin and the reverse of a large pin showing the crease (from top right to bottom left, going behind the pinback).
Those who participated in the 1981 World Championships in some capacity received a beautiful, large pin with a special designation. In the gallery are six examples:
- “ISU” (ISU Delegate)
- “Team Leader”
The highly polished, gold-color base metal of the pin features the event logo mounted in the top half, while the designation is mounted in the lower quarter. The combination creates a most striking and sophisticated pin. The logo measures 3/4″ in diameter (1.9 cm) while the pin overall measures approximately 1‑1/8″ x 1‑7/8″ (2.6 cm x 4.8 cm). The gracefully rounded edges add to the sophistication. Each designation appears in a color pulled from the main logo design, and all feature lettering in gold. Of note is provenance of two of the pins: the Competitor pin comes from Brian Orser, the Canadian and world champion and twice Olympic silver medalist; and the Judge pin comes from the estate of Ludwig Gassner, an Austrian competitor and later world-level judge who presided at the ladies event and was substitute judge for dance in Hartford.
Enjoy this week’s figure skating pins blog: 1981 World Figure Skating Championships Pins: A Worlds of Firsts.
Pins Gallery: 1981 World Figure Skating Championships
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