The history of Koi Pins in South Africa
By Mike Harvey
The interest in koi pins in South Africa is relatively new, but the first koi pins to be made were the South Africa Koi Keepers Society club pins in 1995. These club pins feature the club logo, a diamond, with a Kohaku, and were manufactured in two sizes, a small pin with a diameter of 15mm and a larger club pin with a diameter of 20mm. The club logo was designed in the late 1980’s and it was one of our former members Ronnie Tanur, the owner of a famous chain of jewellery stores, who arranged for their production in 1995. Cuff-link sets with the large pin were subsequently produced as well. It is interesting to note that these pins had black lettering around the perimeter of the pin. It has subsequently been found that a small number of the larger pins were delivered without the black colouring in the recessed lettering, making these pins much rarer. The smaller pin was made in much smaller numbers and hence is now more rare than the larger club pin with black lettering.

In 1998, the Society Chairman, Rick Cockcroft, suggested that a pin be made for the 1998 National show, which would be given to each entrant entering koi on that show. This was the first show pin produced by SAKKS and those that remained after giving entrants one each, were subsequently acquired by me and given away as gifts or swapped for the badges over the years. No further stocks of these 1998 Show Badges are available.

In 2000, I had the privilege of judging at the Nishikigoi Vereniging Nederlands Koi Show, where I met Toen Feyen. With only my stock of SAKKS pins and cufflinks to hand out, Toen was so kind as to give me a significant number of badges from spares he had, and so began my passion for collecting Koi Pins. Returning to South Africa, I set about designing a pin for the Kwa Zulu Natal Chapter of the SAKKS. Kwa Zulu Natal is a province on the East Coast of South Africa and is known as the Kingdom of the Zulu. The famous Zulu King, Chaka, was renown for having developed the short stabbing spear, which together with the shield and fighting stick, were obvious symbols of Kwa Zulu Natal. Thus was born the shield shaped badge, which is now synonymous with the Kwa Zulu Natal Chapter of the SAKKS. As a chapter to SAKKS, the pin features the same diamond and Kohaku appearing on the SAKKS logo and pin. During the design phase, samples were made with different variants of a koi, featuring firstly a Hariwake (yellow) and a Utsuri (black.) A limited number of these three variants were made in gold and the nickel plating and 10 boxed sets of the 3 gold and 3 nickel badges were made. In addition 20 sets of the 2 badges in gold and nickel with the Kohaku were produced as gifts. The final chapter badge was produced in nickel featuring the same Kohaku as in the SAKKS logo, with the intention of remaining closer to the SAKKS pin, except with a shield format.

In 2002, the Kwa Zulu Natal Koi Show Badges were introduced, featuring a Kohaku. The concept of having a special entrants badge which would be given to the members who entered koi on the show was agreed as it was hoped that this would add some additional incentive for members to enter their koi each year and thereby build up a collection of these entrants only badges. It was also agreed that a special show badge be made for the judges attending the shows. Hence three different badges were manufactured- one with a blue background for the general show badge, a white background for the entrants only badge and a black background for the badge reserved for the judges at the show. In addition 10 limited and numbered presentation sets were made with the 3 different badges set in a wooden presentation box, specifically for the overseas judges and serious pin collectors.

During the pin production of the 2002 Show Badge, the manufacturer made 10 proofs which contained incorrect keylines and resulted in 5 rejected proofs with a black background and 5 rejected proofs with a white background. These are the rarest of all the South African pins.

In 2003, the Kwa Zulu Natal Koi Show Badge featured a Shiro Utsuri, with the blue background for the general show badges, yellow background for the entrants badges and red background for the judges badges. Again 10 limited numbered sets of these badges were made and presented in a wooden box.

With the growing interest in pins in South Africa, the second National Show pin was produced for the 2003 National Koi Show, again in 3 variants. The show badge featured a Kohaku with some of the elements of the South African flag incorporated in the pin. The general show pin has a green triangle at the top, with the entrant’s badge having a yellow triangle at the top and the judge’s pin having a blue triangle at the top. There were 12 limited numbered sets of these in wooden presentation boxes.

There are 4 chapters of the SAKKS, being the KwaZulu Natal Chapter, the Western Cape Chapter, the Southern Cape Chapter and the Free State Chapter. The Southern Cape and Western Cape Chapters have each expressed interest in having their own Chapter badges and these will hopefully become a reality soon. None of the Chapters, other than KwaZulu Natal, currently produce show badges for their shows

. The number of pin collectors in South Africa is growing steadily and it is now becoming a common sight at shows and meetings to see these new collectors displaying their badges on their caps and hats. Anyone interested in trading their badges for South African badges is welcome to contact me on my e-mail address, which is

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