One of best things that happened to me in 2010 was that I had my first experience with curling, culminating in my participation in the House of Hearts Bonspiel back in March.
A few weeks after the House of Hearts, I got an e-mail from Katie Moorhead, who described herself as a fourth-generation curler. “With all the recent attention you’ve given to curling, I’m surprised you haven’t mentioned the pins that get handed out by clubs and at bonspiels,” she wrote. “I’ve got about 50 years’ worth of these pins from my great-grandmother, grandmother, and mom, but unfortunately I am away at college, so I can’t send any pictures of them now.”
That was more than eight months ago. I’d forgotten all about Katie’s note until earlier this week, when she got back in touch: “I recently went home for the first time in a while and was able to take pictures of what is left of the collection. … Unfortunately, both my great-grandmother and mother passed away when I was much younger, so many of the stories behind the pins were never passed on to me.”
Even without the backstories, the pins are magnificent. There are nearly 150 of them, which means Katie must have spent a lot of time photographing and annotating — impressive.
But not as impressive as the pins themselves, many of which are minor masterpieces of design. Some of them feature the standard curling iconography of a rock or a rock and brooms, but others are much more interesting. Here are some of my favorites from Katie’s family’s collection, beginning with one that cleverly turns the rock into the cap of an acorn:
There’s a lot going on in this next pin, including the Scottish flag and two faces in profile:
I have no idea what the “Early Bird” prize was for, but the winner sure got a nifty pin:
Madison is the state capital of Wisconsin, so it makes sense that this next pin’s design included the capital dome:
Thanks to the blizzard, I’ve seen lots of snowmen here in Brooklyn lately. But I haven’t seen any of them curling like the one on this pin:
One thing I noticed while looking at Katie’s collection is that the women’s pins tended to have more playful, entertaining designs, like this one:
It turns out everyone loves curling, even Cupid:
We’ve all seen buckeye leaves plastered on Ohio State football helmets. But I’d never seen buckeyes with any connection to curling — until now:
Curling is very popular in the Netherlands, which presumably explains why this pin is shaped like a Dutch clog:
The March Hare is an annual bonspiel held at the Chicago Curling Club, with what the club describes as a “coveted bunny pin”:
Speaking of animals, there’s no getting around the fact that anything is cuter with a beaver on it:
Most curling pins stick to local or regional themes, so it’s sort of striking to see one that depicts the entire lower 48:
I really like how this pin is three-dimensional instead of flat, especially the protruding rock:
As you may know, the Wausau Insurance logo is based on a photo of the old Wausau train station, which in turn is depicted on this pin:
The Chargers aren’t the only ones who can make graphic use of lightning bolts:
I’m fairly certain curling is the only sport that could use “Thistles” as a team name:
I’m also fairly certain I’ve never seen a design before that includes a horse, a bicycle, and curling equipment:
Hey, here’s a pin from the Plainfield Curling Club in New Jersey, where Phil and I curled back in February:
Given the broom’s central role in curling culture, it makes sense that a women’s team would come up with a design like this one:
I don’t think curling was ever part of Native American culture, but that didn’t stop an Illinois club from coming up with this design:
And so on. I could keep going, but you get the idea. If you want to see more, check out the full set of Katie’s photos.
Finally, let’s hear it for Katie and her family, including her great-grandmother and great-grandfather, who had their own special name pins:
Uni Watch News Ticker: Headgear switcheroo in last night’s Pens/Isles game, as reported by Doug Keklak: “Right at the end of regulation, there was something wrong with Sidney Crosby’s helmet, so he skated to the bench and grabbed a different one — Chris Conners’s No. 18. But the break in the action gave him time to get his regular helmet back, so he actually didn’t play while wearing Conners’s helmet.” … Check out the homemade shin guards. That photo’s from a huge trove of old Texas A+M sports photos (big thanks to Chris Smith). … Looks like Washington will be going BFBS in tonight’s Holiday Bowl. Sigh (with thanks to Brian Terreson). … Meanwhile, in the Chicken Salad Bowl, or whatever the hell it’s called, South Carolina will be wearing these cleats (with thanks to Beau Franklin). … The MLB centennial Jim Beam whiskey bottle in yesterday’s Ticker reminded Tracy Ruckel of this KC Royals commemorative bottle of McCormick Whiskey. “It was handed down from my grandfather a few years ago,” says Tracy. “It has remained unopened all this time, but my brother and I have agreed that when the Royals win it again, we will crack that baby open.” … Day-Glo Conspiracy note from Erik Johns, who writes: “I was watching Back to the Future, Part II last night. At the beginning of the movie, when Doc takes Marty to 2015, he gives him some new attire to fit in with the local youth, including some Nike shoes, which were in this tube thing. It looks like all of this day-glo design is just an attempt to align with the world of 2015 as presented by the movie.” … Liverpool memorialized former teammate Avi Cohen, who died earlier this week after a motorcycle accident, with armbands made from black electrical tape. “Strange that they couldn’t get actual black armbands in time,” says Michael Orr (who has prepared yet another EPL uni roundup, by the way). … Jay Lackey notes that the Pinstripe Bowl logo features something that’s probably never existed in real life: a pinstriped football uni. … New court design for Idaho State, and hoo boy is it a stinker (with thanks to Frank Mercogliano). … Ryan Alexander says he hears that SMU will be wearing a “17” memorial decal for Don Meredith in today’s Armed Forces Bowl. … Anyone know why a Maryland player was wearing a wrestling-style belt on the sideline yesterday? “Not sure if Under Armor is giving these out as standard issue or if he had to beat Ric Flair,” quips Eric Vieira. … The mighty Fleer Sticker Project has come up with a new (to me) photo of Brooksie in the O’s orange uni, along with an old Baltimore Sun article that describes the uniform as “about four shades more lustrous than a ripe autumn pumpkin” (they don’t make sportswriters like that anymore, my friends). Check out the full entry, which gathers all the known photos of the orange uniforms, here. … RIP, Dr. Taylor. You’ll be missed.
Phil will be pinch-hitting for me tomorrow, so this is my last entry of the year. I’d like to thank everyone for helping to make 2010 a very good year for Uni Watch. Have a great New Year, and I’ll see you in 2011. — Paul