1980 European Figure Skating Championships Medal: On Folklore.

Profile: Participant Medal – 1980 European Championships, Gothenburg, Sweden

Stories about figure skating pins and collecting that have been handed down from collector to collector—the folklore—are among the most valuable bits of information from the “golden age” of collecting. Here at The Netropolitan, we strive to preserve those memories since they help to document a remarkable history of figure skating and pin collecting. Folklore is decidedly the case when it comes to the 1980 European Figure Skating Championships, held in Gothenburg, Sweden. As the story goes, the pins produced for the championship arrived long after the medals had been awarded and the crowds had gone home, so no pin was available to mark the occasion. Lost in the folklore is what became of the pins once they did arrive. Were they discarded? Were they stored away somewhere? Were they sent back to the maker to be recycled? No one has ever been able to answer what became of the pins, but remember that folklore is not always what it seems. More on that in a moment. In this blog, we’ll take a look at the next best thing to a pin: the participant medal made for the 1980 European Figure Skating Championships.

In their 1987 ground-breaking book Figure Skating Pins, Robert and Nancy Quinn include a photo of a pin from the 1980 European Championships. So if a pin does exist, that would seem to challenge the folklore, correct? Perhaps. But there is skepticism as to whether the item shown in the book is truly a pin. If it is, where it was secured and why no others have surfaced in the 43 years since the event remain as valid, unanswered questions. The Curator of The Netropolitan Museum of Figure Skating Pins believes that the item shown is a pinback button; for surely, at least one other pin would have become available in all those years. In addition, the item pictured in Figure Skating Pins is somewhat reminiscent of the button made for the 1976 World Figure Skating Championships, also held in Gothenburg at the Scandinavium. As always, if anyone has information to share regarding the 1980 European Championships pin—or, better yet, actually has a pin—please contact The Netropolitan.

As the story goes, the pins produced for the 1980 European Championships arrived long after the medals had been awarded and the crowds had gone home, so no pin was available to mark the occasion.

The 1980 European Figure Skating Championships participant medal shown would have been made in highly limited number and likely given only to competitors and selected officials at the event. Struck in a gold-color metal and done in a combination of relief and counter-relief, the medal is both striking and substantial. At the center is the event logo, two figure skaters—arms extended triumphantly—atop tracings of compulsory figures. Around the circumference of the medal is the event name and date: “European Figure Skating Championships Jan. 22–27, 1980.” At the bottom of the medal is the name and illustration of the event venue: “Scandinavium.” Note that the medal does not include the city or country name. With a slightly textured surface and generously rounded corners, the medal measures approximately 1‑15/16″ x 2‑11/16″ (4.9 cm x 6.8 cm).

Enjoy this week’s figure skating pins blog: 1980 European Figure Skating Championships Medal: On Folklore. And be sure to read the museum story for more information about figure skating pins.

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