Profile: Lapel Pins – 1988 US Figure Skating Championships, Denver, Colorado
“The official logo pin from the Championships was quite a disappointment to many people. In this important Olympic year, an outstanding design and product was expected. Instead, a small epoxy domed pin with little distinction was issued. The most popular pin of the event was the colorful cloisonné design created by the [Greater] Denver Chamber of Commerce in limited quantities for the press. It is fine quality and is the item collectors seek.” That quoted content, from the February 1988 issue of Skating magazine, the official publication of the U.S. Figure Skating Association, is spot on when it comes to the logo pin. In all, there were three pins issued for the 1988 US Figure Skating Championships held in Denver, Colorado: the main logo pin, a mascot pin, and the version produced for and given only to members of the press.
The pin “with little distinction” features the event logo, a female figure skater in a layback spin intertwined with the numerals “88” in red that are also meant to represent compulsory figure eight tracings. A white background allows the artwork and lettering to stand off well. Around the circumference of the pin are the event year, name, and location: “1988 Nationals Denver.” It is unlikely today to find this pin without substantial yellowing in the epoxy dome, something that occurs over time as the material ages. Set on a silver-color base metal, the pin measures approximately 3/4″ in diameter (1.9 cm).
The pin “with little distinction” features the event logo, a female figure skater in a layback spin intertwined with the numerals “88” …
The mascot pin, featuring Rocky the Raccoon, is of slightly more distinction than the logo pin, done as a cutout shape in enamel. In red, white, and blue, Rocky appears somewhat patriotic, but, quite oddly, even Rocky himself is blue. Perhaps he turned blue from the freezing temperatures in Denver that week in January. But just the same, Rocky glides along effortlessly, outfitted with red mittens and a white championships shirt emblazoned with “1988 Denver.” The pin is tiny, measuring approximately 11/16″ x 5/8″ (1.7 cm x 1.6 cm), and is on a silver-color base metal.
In a close tie-in to the event, the pin produced by the Chamber of Commerce features the main logo at its center on a rich blue background. In this version, the figure skater is in white with the numerals “88” again in red. Just below the logo are the snow-covered peaks of the Rocky Mountains that tower over Denver. The pin was presented in a plastic bag stapled to a printed panel that features the Chamber logo and the names of a local sports committee and three companies that presumably contributed to the production expense of the pins and other items given to the press corps.
If there is a detail about this pin that can be picked apart, it is the lettering used for “Denver,” which may have been reproduced from hand-lettered artwork. Badly hand-lettered artwork, that is. The letter shapes are uneven, poorly spaced, and ill-formed, particularly the upper portion of the lowercase “r” (called the “shoulder”) that has been extended so much (inexplicably) that it has destroyed the integrity of the letter. Even the shiny gold lettering can’t rescue this mess. The pin measures approximately 9/16″ x 7/8″ (1.4 cm x 2.2 cm) and is on a gold-color base metal.
By 1988, pin trading at figure skating events had already begun to significantly decline. So the commentary from Skating magazine that the press pin was “the item collectors seek” was really only true for the handful of seasoned figure skating pin collectors at the event. Most attending the championship, even those who actively collected and traded pins, would never have known that the press pin existed.
Enjoy this week’s figure skating pins blog: 1988 US Figure Skating Championships Pin: With Little Distinction. And be sure to read the museum story for more information about figure skating pins.
Pin Gallery: 1988 US Figure Skating Championships
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