Extraordinary pins with extraordinary backstories

Extraordinary pins with extraordinary backstories

Our website is home to some very interesting-looking pins. Znachki, or pins, are considered collectibles, a visible representation of achievements, or simply small artistic tokens that displayed support for a certain person, event, or team. In this blog entry, we’ll explore a few of the pins available on our website, as well as provide you with a small explanation of their origins.

Pins for ice hockey fans

The 1973 Ice Hockey World Championships were a competition to remember – if you are old enough to have consciously lived in the 70s, that is. The tournament was the 40th Ice Hockey World Championship and the 51st European Championship, it took place in the Central Lenin Stadium in Moscow, from the 31st of March until the 15th of April.

The Russians take great pride in their ice hockey, with the sport considered the country’s national sport. The sport gained most of its popularity at the end of the 1940s after the initial enthusiasm of regular hockey died down a bit. In 1954, the USSR team won a gold medal, officially putting the country on the map as successful ice hockey players.

1973 World Ice Hockey Championships Moscow Pin

Ice Hockey Championship pin of the Soviet Union. Click here to view the full set.

The success of the USSR team sky-rocketed with a new coaching duo in charge: Arkady Chernyshev and Anatoly Tarasov. The two began coaching the team after their initial win in 1954, which led the team to even more victories. Thanks to the coaches, the USSR national team won all international tournaments from 1963 to 1971. By this time, the team had conquered the world title for the eleventh time.

In 1972, however, the success of the USSR stagnated, with Czechoslovakia's national team winning gold in Prague for the 39th edition of the tournament. The USSR team had changed coaches, and this partly caused the team to not be on top of their game. However, the Soviet Union was back in 1973, reclaiming their world title as best ice hockey players for the twelfth time.

Because this is such a memorable event, we are very fortunate to have obtained a fine set of pins from this occasion. The set contains seven pins. One pin that shows the tournament's logo and general info, plus six pins of the important countries that competed in the 1973 championships: Soviet Union, Sweden, Czechoslovakia, Finland, Poland, and West Germany. Pins can be found here.

Additional information on sports in Russia can be found here (opens in a new window).

You were part of something greater if you wore Komsomol lapel pins

So far there are two Komsomol membership pins available on our webshop. Komsomol is a nickname for the All-Union Leninist Young Communist League, a political youth organization in the Soviet Union that was active from around 1918 until 1991. The Komsomol played a significant role in letting younger generations pursue higher education and teaching them about the values of the USSR. If you were an active member, you had a higher chance of receiving privileges and promotions.

If you were a part of the Komsomol, you were expected to behave accordingly. Smoking, drinking, being religious and other inappropriate behaviors were strongly discouraged. Instead, Komsomol entertained its members with practical activities that would be beneficial for society, such as volunteering, sports, and political debates. The Komsomol promoted “doing things for the collective”, and the organization strived to ban all kinds of mischievous deeds, by enforcing more and more stricter rules. Young women were strongly encouraged to join. The government hoped that men and women engaging in the same activities would lead to more equality between the sexes. Eventually, the stringent rules led to the demise of the Komsomol. There was a lack of interested members, and in 1991, the Komsomol disbanded.

1960s Komsomol pin

1960s Komsomol pin, available via this website.

A 1970s Komsomol pin, available via this website

1970s Komsomol pin, available via this website

The All-Union Leninist Young Communist League pins stand out because of their simple, yet striking design. The small pin consists of a simple red flag, decorated with a Lenin-head and some additional text. Some have some grain beside the flag. It’s a plain design, but very noticeable. It is debatable whether the organization chose this format to make members recognize each other quickly. As if to say “hey, you, you are part of us, we share the same values.”

Read more on this Wikipedia page dedicated to the rise and fall of the Komsomol (opens in a new window).

And... if you are a soviet pin collector, you might find this article on Atlas Obscura about pin collectors fun to read (opens in a new window).

Written by Julia Christiaanse

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