The Badges

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. 

Resource:
https://wiki.kkg.org/images/6/6c/HistoricallySpeaking_May2016.pdf

The Badge of Merle Beeman, 1916

This absolutely stunning matte gold badge with small diamond and attached Masonic guard was a gift from my husband that thrilled me beyond belief.

Clara Merle Beeman was initiated as a charter member of the Gamma Alpha chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma at Kansas State University on September 23, 1916.

I shouldn’t play favorites, but this is definitely my #2 favorite of my collection, second only to the opal badge.

The badge is a gorgeous matte gold with a small genuine diamond. It is hard to capture the loveliness of the matte gold finish as an amateur photographer. It is unlike any of the other badges in my collection. The diamond is larger than what I have seen on any other badge, and the fact that it is a single diamond and the placement on the badge also make it unusual.

Trying to capture the beauty of the matte gold and little diamond made me realize that photography is a lot harder than it looks!

The pin guard is the badge of a 32nd-degree Scottish Rite Mason. My grandfather and son are both Masons, so this made this find extra special. Although there is no list of Masons that I can search, I assume that this is the pin of Merle’s husband, William Herbert Robinson, who she met while in college.

Clara as a junior, the year she became a charter member of the Gamma Alpha Chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma.

Clara, senior year.

From the Kansas State College 1917 Yearbook, Royal Purple.

Merle was voted as one of six “Senior Beauties” of the 1917 graduating class.

Clara Merle Beeman was born on May 11, 1894 in Chicago, Illinois to William J. Beeman and Clara Cordilia Parks Beeman. Her mother passed away when Merle was only six years old, and then her father died when she was ten. She was then raised by relatives, listed in census reports as being a niece in the household of D.O. and Emma Coe. Merle graduated from Topeka High School in 1913 and Kansas State University in 1917. She married William Herbert Robinson on February 18, 1920. Clara Merle Beeman Robinson passed away on March 31, 1989 in Topeka, Kansas, at the age of 94.

So far, I have been unable to find a photo of Merle and William later in their lives, but this is a photo of Merle’s husband in 1916, his senior year at Kansas State University.

The Badge of Isabel Carey Warne, 1929

Isabel Warne was initiated into the Beta Psi Chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma at the University of Toronto on January 28, 1929.

Absolutely gorgeous hand engraving

Isabel was born on September 7, 1908 in Carelton, Ontario, Canada. She attended the University of Toronto, where she was likely a journalism major. A graduating year fellowship (the Isabel Warne Fellowship) is awarded at University College each year to encourage and support seniors in pursuing graduate studies. She never married and had no children. Isabel passed away on October 4, 2000 at the age of 92.

It took me some looking to figure out the names and dates on this headstone, as they didn’t seem to add up. I was correct.

Isabel’s mother, Alberta, was married to Arthur Allin until he passed at the age of 34 in 1903. Alberta married Isabel’s father, James Facey Warne, in October 1907. Both Alberta and Isabel are buried in the plot of Alberta’s first husband, Arthur Allin. In spite of Isabel not being Arthur Allin’s daughter, the headstone reads “Their Daughter”.

Photo of Isabel Warne from the 1931 University of Toronto yearbook.

Mother-Daughter Badges, 1893 and 1924

These beautiful badges touched my heart, and I knew I needed to acquire them and keep them safe and together, forever.

The top badge, plain gold with the attached Beta Theta Pi fraternity pin guard, belonged to Florence Raymond Nowland Davidson, who was initiated into the Beta Delta chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma at the University of Michigan (GO BLUE!) on December 18, 1893.

The pearl badge belonged to Florence’s daughter, Helen Dean Davidson, who was initiated into the Beta Omega chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma at the University of Oregon in 1924.

Engraving Reads: Florence R. Davidson, Beta Delta, 12-18-’93

Engraving Reads: Helen Davidson, ’24

Orlando White Davidson’s Beta Theta Pi fraternity pin served as Florence’s pin guard

Mother Florence Raymond Nowland was born on November 1, 1874 in Indianapolis, Indiana. She married Orlando White Davidson on April 23, 1903. As her badge was engraved with her married name of Davidson rather than her maiden name of Nowland, I assume that she was either engaged to Orlando Davidson at the time that she was initiated, or the badge was engraved after their marriage. The guard is indeed Orlando’s fraternity pin, as he was a Beta Theta Pi at Beloit College in Beloit, Wisconsin. She was initiated into Kappa Kappa Gamma at the University of Michigan in 1893 at the age of 19. When she married Orlando in 1903, she was 29. They were married until his death in 1937. Florence passed away on October 21, 1964 at the age of 89.

Daughter Helen Dean Davidson was born on June 11, 1905 in Portland, Oregon. She was initiated into Kappa Kappa Gamma at the University of Oregon in 1924. She married J. Harley Hughes in 1933, and they were married until his death in 1968. Helen passed away on April 28, 1980 at the age of 74.

The ladies of Kappa Kappa Gamma at the University of Oregon, Helen’s senior year, 1927

Helen was quite the writer in her youth. This is just one example of her works, which were published in various literary publications.

Badge and Recognition Key of Anna B. Nall, 1916

Anna Bertha Nall was initiated into the Lambda Chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma at the University of Akron in 1916.

I love the different colors of the pearls. I am going to take the recognition pin to my jeweler to remove the discoloration.

Engraving Reads: Anna B. Nall, Lambda, 12-14-16

Gorgeous colors on the seed pearls

Below are some lovely photos of Anna that I was able to find on Ancestry. Anna was born on October 1, 1897 in Akron, Ohio. She married Robert Julius Rowse on October 25, 1919 in Summit, Ohio. They had three children during their marriage. Anna passed away on November 21, 1945 at the young age of 48 in Detroit, Michigan.

Anna and Robert

Sapphire Badge, 1953

This badge was an eBay rescue obtained by The Golden Key Alumnae Association, which I then “adopted” for my collection, as I didn’t have an example of an all-sapphire key. Strangely, this beautiful badge has only the chapter and date on it. This badge is from lambda chapter, which is at the University of Akron. (This is the second key in my collection from lambda chapter!) The badge is engraved 9/53. There are no initials or any name engraved on it, which makes it a little less fun, since I can’t research the previous owner. But it’s a lovely vintage sapphire key!

Modern Badge, 2007

I don’t collect modern badges as a general rule, but this one popped up on eBay at a very low Buy it Now price, so I decided to grab it in order to include an example of a modern badge in my collection.

This badge is from Delta Chapter, which is at Indiana University. I don’t know if this badge was lost by the Kappa to whom it belonged or if it was purposefully sold (I really hope not!). I have discovered the name of this sister, but I have been unable to reach her as of yet. If I am able to reach her, and I discover that her badge was lost or stolen, I would love to return it to her.

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