Opal Badge, unsigned and undated, late 1800’s – very early 1900’s

It seems fitting to make this spectacular opal key, the superstar of my badge collection, the first entry in this section.

During Kappa’s first decades, the size and jeweling of the badge followed personal preference. During the 1880’s, the width through the center of the badge increased and jewels began to appear more often. The 1890’s brought smaller keys, some only three-fourths of an inch long, worn slightly on the bias. However, in 1896, after discussion in The Key and at Convention, the length of our badge was standardized at one inch.

Due to the fact that following the 1924 Convention, pearls were the only authorized jewels (until diamonds and sapphires were allowed following the Convention of 1930), and because the length of 1 inch became standard in 1896, I believe this key to have been made between 1896 and 1924. It is approximately 1 inch in length and is adorned with the most spectacular opals. The enameled Greek letters have been hand engraved. There is no engraving of a name or date on the reverse of the key.

I would love to know more about the sister to whom this precious treasure belonged!

To think that I purchased this for, if I recall correctly, less than $400 off of eBay back when the auction site first began. Because of collectors of fraternal pins (who are not even members of the organization), these antique pins often sell for thousands of dollars. What a pity!

I think the back of this key was likely “scrubbed”, which is such a shame, as it removed the information I would need to find out the previous owner. 


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