By Jessica Gleim, Utah, Keepers of the Key Chairman
Kappa badges are highly collectable. When online bidding sites became more popular, someone needed to make sure our keys are kept in good hands. The Keepers of the Key are a group of collegiate and alumna members who ensure that the little golden keys stay in the hands of our sisters and not in those pesky non-Kappa collectors. Many of the badges we’ve rescued were lost or stolen—some for upwards of 40 years—from members who thought they would never see them again.
In the 10 years the Keepers have been rescuing our beautiful golden keys, 76 have been returned to the original owner or their families. In total, 285 badges have been rescued, including several historically significant pieces which are displayed at Fraternity Headquarters and in The Heritage Museum of Kappa Kappa Gamma.
Prices for badges range from $3.40 (the best bargain thus far) to $2,676. On average, an antique badge runs $250. The money to purchase the badges is pooled together by the Keepers of the Key from our own pockets. Often badges are passed along to other sisters who reimburse us the purchase price, but we rescue badges because we value the deeper meaning behind our key. Some of us have our own collection of badges from our chapter or of various styles and eras, but the end goal is to keep our history in the hands of our members.
Our first priority is to return badges to the members, if appropriate, followed by returning the badge to the member's family, and finally adopting the badge out to a Kappa who will wear and treasure it. Badges that aren’t kept for historical purposes or reunited with their original owner are put up for adoption on our website. Since 10% of each adoption is donated to the Kappa Kappa Gamma Foundation, rescued badges make a great replacement if you have lost your own.
If you’ve lost your badge, be sure to register your badge with the Keepers. Please include as much of the following information as you can: your chapter, any engravings, badge style (jewel type or plain gold), your initiation date, lettering style (enamel or plain), if it was lost or stolen, and when/where/how it was last seen. We will keep an eye out for your badge. If it is rescued, we will be able to return it to you.
One request we make is to please avoid bidding on Kappa badges, pins, and other historical items on auction sites, as this will result in Kappas bidding against fellow Kappas and driving the prices up. If you are interested in a badge currently online, we will work with you to bring it safely into Kappa hands. If you find a badge for sale online, please email me and the Keepers will get to work.
Reuniting a Kappa with her lost badge is a joy. The happiness members express when reunited with their badges truly exemplifies how much our badge means to each and every member who has the opportunity to pin it proudly.