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  #1  
Old 08-26-2002, 08:08 PM
MRSMRS MRSMRS is offline
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"Keepers of the Key"

MRSMRS
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Keepers of the Key and NY Times Article:
I'm posting below my unpublished letter to the editor of the NY Times. It illustrates the need for caution in accepting as truth what we read in print. I have asked several attorneys how a mainline newspaper can print a fabricated story that has no corroboration. I am told that articles written by freelancers under a byline are legally viewed as "opinion" of the writer and protected as free speech by the First Amendment. Ms. Rosman was not required by her editor to show validation because what she "reported" was her opinion in a marketable form. I don't want to belabor my unpleasant experience, but I believe that readers should understand that this article is not factual. If you care to wade through them, I will also add some legitimate facts following the letter for your consideration as you choose.

Dear Editor:
Ms. Rosman's article "Oh, Brother (and Sister)..." in the August 11 Style Section goes beyond misrepresentation to outright deceit. I was made a focal point of the article, however Ms. Rosman has never personally met or interviewed me and knows virtually nothing about me. She characterized me based upon unfounded comments reportedly made in Ms. Rosman's presence, by anonymous participants with whom I have never had dialogue, at an event which I have never attended. Apparently that's what it took to sell her story. Some time ago, Ms. Rosman's husband used my assistance to buy a replacement pin on eBay for her mother's lost Kappa Kappa Gamma pin, and she learned of the growing competition on eBay to members of fraternal organizations seeking to buy back their own lost and stolen pins or replacements of the same vintage. The facts are: I do not engage in unpleasantries with eBay sellers, bidders or collectors. I spend less than an hour a week on eBay and, over the past 4-5 years, have purchased at most 14-15 pins for return to their owners, who reimbursed my costs. Few of the pins I have purchased on eBay cost more than $50-$100. The financial resources of serious pin collectors appear to exceed those available to us. Few members can afford to compete with collector-bidders to re-acquire their pins. Ms. Rosman's portrayal of me as an aggressive, hostile, "spying grandmother" was fabricated to market a story which would otherwise appear uninteresting. The true story lies in the accounts of women of all ages who have regained a sentimental treasure because of friendship. Ms. Rosman has done an injustice to the dozens of helpful members of Kappa Kappa Gamma and those of Phi Beta Kappa, P.E.O., Masons, other fraternal orders and the U. S. Armed Services who assist members and their families to retrieve personally identified property which is of sentimental significance. The NY Times should be embarrassed and ashamed to have engaged in such unprofessional reporting and owes me and other dedicated volunteers an apology.
--- Mary R. Silzel

Here are the facts:
1. "Keepers of the Key" is not a function or affiliate of Kappa Kappa Gamma, but a network of 30+/- individuals linked by collegiate or alumna membership in the organization. Members of many other fraternal groups maintain similar online networks.
2. Neither I nor officers of KKG sanctioned the article. Ms. Rosman, a member of KKG, was specifically asked and gave her assurance that the article did not reference me or KKG and was solely about the phenomenon of pin collecting.
3. The $17,000 referenced is a ballpark total spent by more than 100 members over a period of 5 years to buy back their own lost/stolen or replacement pins.
4. Philanthropic services have benefited from this effort. In appreciation, women who were assisted in the return or replacement of pins have made contributions to KKG Foundation which supports scholarships, women's health issues and rehabilitation services internationally. No fraternity or philanthropic funds are expended for the retrieval of pins.
5. I did not make the quoted statement concerning "exclusivity" - I am not certain I even grasp its meaning, however it sounds "snobbish" or "elitist," which I am not.
6. Members have been buying and returning pins for many years, for $10-$25 in pawn shops, flea markets, etc. where lost and stolen jewelry eventually appears. The advent of eBay and affluent collectors of GLO pins have inflated prices beyond what our members can afford to retrieve their lost/stolen pins.
7. The pins I have bought on eBay are returned to their original owners or their descendants. I have been reimbursed any cost to me. I have no sizable investment in Kappa pins. I own four pins, purchased for $12, $65, $75 and $290 - the latter from a collector who outbid me on eBay, then later offered me the pin (identical to my original lost pin) at a profit to him.
8. Keepers of the Key have returned pins to other GLOs and organizations besides KKG. I also try to rescue pins of Phi Beta Kappa (of which I am a member) and Sigma Chi (of which my husband is a member.)
9. We have found no evidence that members sell their pins. In every case of which I am aware, a pin sold on eBay left the hands of the owner or her family unwittingly. Based on my knowledge and experience, fraternal pins are lost, stolen, or sold in estate sales by family members unaware of the significance of the pin and policies regarding its return after death.

I hope this clarifies misrepresentations in the article. Keepers of the Key seek to maintain the pleasant relationship and mutual helpfulness we have always enjoyed with our friends in the Greek community who also try to preserve the integrity and heritage of their badges. I respect the organizations and individuals represented on the GreekChat site and appreciate the opportunity to add a factual perspective to the article. Thank you -

Mary R. Silzel
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  #2  
Old 08-27-2002, 12:14 AM
KappaStargirl KappaStargirl is offline
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Thank you for posting this, Mary. You know, when I read the article, I thought to myself "Geez, they're making Mary out to be a lot more...what's the word...forceful...about this than she really is," and something didn't sit right. Caring about recovering badges is one thing, a writer making people believe you'd practically break into peoples' houses to get them is quite another. You are one of the LEAST aggressive, hostile people I know...but I still meant what I said before about how I love you for being a caring, one-woman KKG army.

I'm an Ebay pin collecting lurker, I can't even tell you how much money I DON'T have right now to rescue them, but there is some ridiculousness going on there. Sellers are putting reserves on Kappa pins over $600, and almost no one is buying. The one person that DID bid is new to Ebay, and had totaled at least $1000 in bids on pins. I'm all for capitalism, but that seemed a little outrageous to me. I suppose it's only a matter of time, though, before the sellers realize no one is bidding on outrageously overpriced pins, and we'll be back to where we were before.
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  #3  
Old 09-01-2002, 11:56 AM
Maharet Maharet is offline
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GLO Pins on Evay

Hello Kappa sisters,

I too have been dismayed at the outrageous actions of sellers and buyers on ebay selling pins for grossly high costs and have had my fair share of e-mails talks with sellers and buyers. Some buyers (one in particular) on e-bay have amassed numerous pins from GLOS - a dozen or so pins from Chi-O, Pi Phi, KKG A-Phi etc.

I have tried to talk with a bidder (sellers have been a bit nicer...) who had contacted me. I explained the frustrations with the money they spend and how MANY who legitimately want to replace their pins simply cannot afford or out bid, I was sent rude, threatening and nasty replies. This has been done to a few Kappas I know as well with no help from ebay.

The reporter from the NY Times(for more than an hour) also interviewed me and I tried to explain the sentimentality, meaning and sheer devotion many have to their pins, but the information I passed along was not used in the article. There have been many thoughts and ideas regarding the $ spent by Kappas to bring the keys back and I would love to have you post your reply in other GLO forums - Chi Omega, Pi Beta Phi, Alpha Xi Delta and Alpha Phi - as the subject of ebay pins has come up on their forums. Not sure of their interest, but just for their knowledge it might be nice to share. Others need to know how you feel and what has been said about pins on ebay. I personally have spoken with Chi-O, AZD, AChiO and a very special Kappa who has become a good friend about just this topic (we‘ve actually become sort of pen-pals and correspond regularly).

I have rescued a few pins and will be putting them back into the hands of Alpha Phis. 2 pearl jeweled pins will go to deserving collegians upon graduation...And the others; I’ll find the right time to give them away. I am not sure about other Greeks, but within Alpha Phi our original pins did not look the same as they do now. We had what is called ‘lazy phi’ pins which aren’t worth much ‘jewelry wise’ but are quite sentimental as our pin was standardized in 1906. These pins are very rare and unique as the women from 1872-1906 were allowed to design their own according to the ‘lazy phi’ shape.

Thanks so much for letting me post in your forum. Regardless of the GLO we belong to, we are all sisters at heart. And in the end, collectors will NOT see what we see when we wear or look at our pins - a littel mushy, but true nonetheless.

Sincerely, Maharet - Alpha Phi

Last edited by Maharet; 09-01-2002 at 12:38 PM.
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  #4  
Old 09-04-2002, 10:31 PM
MRSMRS MRSMRS is offline
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Thanks so much, Maharet - you have put it so well. We are all, indeed, sisters in NPC and if ever we needed to stand together in defense of our heritage and history, it is with this situation on eBay. My heart broke again today when I spoke with the daughter-in-law of the deceased owner of a Kappa badge that just sold to a well-known collector for over $500. She has no idea how it got on eBay, but suspects it was taken in a burglary her mother-in-law suffered some years ago. She wanted to retrieve the pin to pass to the granddaughters of its owner, with the hope that they or their daughters might become Kappas some day, and it would have such a special meaning to them. But the seller would not even respond to her contact, and she simply could not pay the $600-$1000 it would take to outbid a collector with seemingly unlimited funds. And I know that there is no point in approaching the buyer about the importance of its return to the family when the prevailing attitude is "Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers." The losers ARE weeping today.

Each NPC group shares this sentiment about their own little pins - I wonder, do the men's groups feel as strongly or is this, as a dear Kappa friend put it, an example of "men are from Mars, women are from Venus?" We are truly ruled by our hearts in this cause, and I am proud of that. I appreciate your shared concern and commitment to what we believe as Greek women. I hope by working together with our sister NPC groups, we can prevail in our noble effort to preserve the dignity and heritage our badges represent. Thanks for writing, Maharet - good luck to us all....we are ALL suffering.
Mary
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  #5  
Old 12-30-2002, 07:18 PM
SmartBlondeGPhB SmartBlondeGPhB is offline
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I would also like to see us work through NPC to try to minimize this issue (we will never eliminate it).

For the past few months, we have had a Task Force addressing this issue for Gamma Phi Beta and it's amazing how many women have told me that their badge was stolen.

Unfortunately (in some ways), the work we have been doing has shown me that lack of education is a big problem on this issue.

Fraternally,

Melanie Kelsey
Chair, Badge Task Force
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  #6  
Old 01-01-2003, 12:13 AM
MSKKG MSKKG is offline
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If it can be proven that a badge is stolen property, what happens then?
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  #7  
Old 01-03-2003, 09:00 PM
KappaKittyCat KappaKittyCat is offline
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Well, it's illegal to sell stolen property. So get the police involved.

In order to prove that it's stolen property, you have to fill out a police report when it's stolen. Another good way to keep it safe is to include it on your homeowners insurance policy.
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Old 01-03-2003, 10:19 PM
SmartBlondeGPhB SmartBlondeGPhB is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by KappaKittyCat


In order to prove that it's stolen property, you have to fill out a police report when it's stolen.

Therein lies the problem. One of our badges was on ebay a month or two ago and when we contacted the original owner, she didn't even know it was missing. She hadn't worn it since last Nov and had no reason to look for it. In the end, a collector paid about $140 for the badge that was only about 25 years old and was originally purchased for $20. It's funny how they think WE (GLO's) are driving up the prices.......

I think a number of members wear their badge very little after college and just keep it in a jewelry box "for a legacy" and then forget about it when no legacy comes around. It's hard to report something stolen if you've forgotten about it. If my house was broken into and they stole my jewelry box, I'd have trouble remembering what all was in it (most of it being junk). I've been telling myself to take some pictures.
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  #9  
Old 01-05-2003, 12:15 AM
KappaKittyCat KappaKittyCat is offline
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One way to keep your badge from falling out of your jewelry circulation is to get involved as an alumna, either with an alumnae chapter or as an advisor.

Though I don't doubt I'm preaching to the choir.

When I grow up, I want to be a professional Kappa!
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  #10  
Old 01-05-2003, 06:45 PM
MSKKG MSKKG is offline
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Couldn't agree with you more, KappaKittyCat! I relish the opportunities to wear my badge and do so whenever I'm helping with recruitment, celebrating Founder's Day, attending formal meetings, or at any "dressy" Kappa function either with the chapter or Alumnae Club.

Does this qualify me as a professional Kappa?!? Hope so!
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  #11  
Old 07-16-2003, 11:27 PM
Kappa-Gator Kappa-Gator is offline
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Your Sisters's Keeper ...

This past week I sent a TriDelt pin I bought on ebay back to their national headquarters with a note that said I was pleased to present the badge of Ora Randels. While not officially a Keeper of the Key, I count amoung my family and friends DZ, AOPi, AChiO, PiPhI, GPhi, DG, TriDelt, AGam and of course, KKG. But the list goes on.

Because of the NYTimes article, I think that prices might be artificially high for a while. But I'll continue to watch and purchase more pins. The above TriDelt badge was the first I have ever bought, and I bought it with the intent purpose of giving it back to the membership.

I think the first post said that folks had been purchasing and returning badges for many, many years. Am I at a point in my life that rescueing pins could be a hobby? Sure, and I'll do what I can for badges I recognize and and feel some connection to.

Loyally,
Carol Livingston
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  #12  
Old 07-25-2003, 10:03 AM
MSKKG MSKKG is offline
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About 3 years ago, the EK chapter President lost the President's badge at an initiation at a local church. (Thank goodness EK will be in a house for initations from now on!) The chapter women looked all over but couldn't find it.

Kappanole, one of our Keepers of the Key, was contacted by a woman in Columbia who had found the badge. The woman had found it in the parking lot, kept it for about a year (she had forgotten about it), and then contacted HQ. They put her in touch with Kappanole.

Kappanole contacted PKTKKG, and PKTKKG called the lady. As soon as the lady mentioned where she found the badge, PKTKKG knew exactly the badge she was talking about! Although it wasn't auctioned on eBay, this is an amazing story of a badge recovery.
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  #13  
Old 03-05-2008, 01:01 PM
SAMConsul SAMConsul is offline
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Thumbs up Historical Art

Fraternity and sorority badges are works of true art as well as an image that lets us be recognized in the crowd. Badges are points of pride, and a golden chip of our history as a person, as an organization. When I was in college I joined my fraternity and my most memorable day was when I received our distinctive badge. It is mine, for the rest of my days, I wear it proudly, and every GLO member sould always wear theirs with extreme pride. With the advent of E-Bay I was annoyed at the ease of aquiring GLO badges. Not that the pin collectors are going to wear them, none do, but they sort of hold them hostage. I emplore pin collectors not to give up their hobby, because you do save alot of our pins from the scrap gold pile, I have seen that happen, but to offer excess pins to be purchased from you by national officers or worthy members. I collect my fraternity badges, and I am compliling a history of them so at some point I can donate them back to the national fraternity to put on display.

Keep your badges safe, wear them proudly!
I applaude the work of the Keepers of the Key...you inspire.

Fraternally,

Joe
Sigma Alpha Mu
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  #14  
Old 03-05-2008, 07:36 PM
Hopeful_Bubbles Hopeful_Bubbles is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kappa-Gator View Post
This past week I sent a TriDelt pin I bought on ebay back to their national headquarters with a note that said I was pleased to present the badge of Ora Randels.
Loyally,
Carol Livingston
Thank you for this I wish I had the funds to do the same for other groups. Instead I just post here to let others know- especially about the less expensive ones. There's a member of my alumnae association whose home was robbed years ago and her pin stolen. I'd love to return one to her one day, though since we've only just met it might be a little awkward.
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Old 03-05-2008, 07:50 PM
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SWTXBelle SWTXBelle is offline
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Crescent Catchers

My badge was stolen at convention, of all places. While I have a claim on my homeowner's policy, I don't have a police report because I didn't find that it had been taken from my bag until I got home. I still hold out hope that it will find its way home someday . . . thank goodness for our Crescent Catchers, the Keepers of the Key, and all the similiar orgs!
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