Last Updated on June 20, 2023 by Netropolitan Museum
Profile: Lapel Pins – 1986 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, Uniondale, New York
When you fly into JFK in New York and take a taxi to Uniondale, on Long Island, but your taxi driver gets lost (twice!) on the way—or maybe just pretends to be lost in order to run up the meter on an unsuspecting out-of-towner—then you’re in for one frustrating, expensive ride. Such was the case for The Curator of The Netropolitan Museum of Figure Skating Pins when attending the national championships in Uniondale in 1986. Thankfully, much less expensive than the taxi ride to Uniondale were the three pins issued for the 1986 U.S. Figure Skating Championships.
Like the 1983 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, the 1986 Championships were commemorated with two different logo pins and a mascot pin. Designed in an unusual stadium shape, the logo pins feature a series of interconnected and stylized circles that not only loosely form “86” to represent the event year but mimic a compulsory figure tracing. A color palette of red, blue, white, and gold creates a strong and subtly patriotic look. Tucked into the open areas of the circles, from top to bottom, are an old-fashioned skate blade, the event year “1986,” and the name and symbol representing the New York Regional Council, an organization devoted in part to maximizing local economic opportunities. Along the top circumference of the pin is the event name: “United States Figure Skating Championships”; and around the bottom is the event venue: “Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.” A few interesting “one of only a few” tidbits about this pin: 1) it is one of only a few pins issued for a U.S. national championship (through 1990) to include the formal name; 2) one of only a few pins to include a venue or stadium name; and 3) one of only a few not to include the host city name. See commentary on the mascot pin below for more.
The second version of the logo pin is identical in every way but features the event mascot, Bebie the Beaver, layered over the bottom half and replacing the Regional Council details. Each logo pin measures approximately 9/16″ x 1‑1/4″ (1.4 cm x 3.2 cm).
A color palette of red, blue, white, and gold creates a strong and subtly patriotic look for the 1986 U.S. Figure Skating Championships pins.
By 1986, the U.S. Championships had featured an official mascot for several years, going back to at least 1982 when Shivers the Penguin entertained crowds in Indianapolis. Bebie the Beaver, with an impish grin, was forever immortalized on the pins made for the 1986 U.S. Figure Skating Championships. In addition to Bebie’s likeness on the second logo pin, the separate mascot pin prominently features the furry critter. Circular in shape with a cutout area at the top, Bebie glides along effortlessly with his red, white, and blue neck scarf trailing in the wind, contrasting well against the light brown color of his fur. The multi-color enamel pin is marked simply with the event name, year, and location: “Nationals, 1986, New York.” The colloquial “Nationals” is used in the place of the formal event name, and the specific location is omitted in favor of just New York, which must have sounded better to organizers than using Uniondale. (It’s a bit like when Oakland, California, hosted the 1992 World Figure Skating Championships and decided to tag on “San Francisco” as a way to make the event location seem more desirable.) The mascot pin measures approximately 7/8″ x 1″ (2.2 cm x 2.5 cm).
In a related pin story, The Curator was busy one afternoon at the event working on a trade with another collector, and the negotiation was taking place just before a senior competition was about to begin. With the trade not coming together and the announcer calling the first group of skaters to the ice, The Curator picked up personal belongings and rushed from the concourse into the arena, somehow leaving the large bag of “traders” on a high-top table. Realizing the error within a couple of minutes, The Curator hurried back to the concourse just in time to catch a food service worker making a beeline for the pins, undoubtedly to claim them as her own. Upon catching the death stare of The Curator, the employee quickly changed course and pretended to be going elsewhere. But her movement and intent had been crystal clear, and if just a few more seconds had elapsed before The Curator realized the pins had been left behind, they all would have been gone. Stolen.
Lastly, The Curator would like to make special remembrance of friend Dale Mitch, who was appointed editor of Skating magazine during the 1986 Championships. Mr. Mitch was an accomplished collector who brought awareness to pin collecting by highlighting pins and collecting in several issues of Skating over the years. (Skating is the official publication of U.S. Figure Skating, or called United States Figure Skating Association back in 1986.)
Enjoy this week’s figure skating pins blog: 1986 U.S. Figure Skating Championships Pins: Lost On Long Island. And be sure to read the museum story for more information about figure skating pins.
Pins Gallery: 1986 U.S. Figure Skating Championships
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