We have looked at a small number of 1970s and 1980s Royal Navy promotional metal badges on the blog before. Last week I was very pleased to find another four examples and effectively doubled my little collection overnight, and it is these that we are considering tonight. Small metal badges have been around for many years, but during the 1960s and 1970s methods of manufacture became cheaper and there was an explosion in popularity for the humble pin badge. The military were not slow to recognise that by giving away these simple and cheap little badges they were getting good will and an ongoing form of advertising every time the badge was worn. In an age where every recruit had to be fought for, this was not an unattractive prospect. These badges were so cheap to manufacture that numerous designs could be produced and given away at recruitment stands, ship’s visits and public events. Sadly most were just thrown away so it is not always easy to find them today and requires a lot of scrabbling through boxes of other badges, however they are seldom expensive and I have built up a nice little collection.
We start tonight with a generic badge showing a white ensign and the letters ‘RN’:This stylised logo was in use throughout the late 1970s and much of the 1980s. It appears again on this example:Here the badge depicts an Exocet equipped Leander class frigate, with the white ensign above. Unfortunately the red ink used in the manufacture of this example was not colour fast and has faded badly over the years. The Leander class frigate must have been a popular choice as it appears on this example as well, here though the names ‘Royal Navy’ and ‘Royal Marines’ are written out in full around the edges of the badge:Finally in this batch is a more unusual subject for a badge, the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Service:The RFA is the Royal Navy’s support fleet consisting of ships that supply and refuel the warships. They play a vital role but are often forgotten about. Here though we have a very attractive little badge with their ensign and one of their ships in silhouette in the centre, surrounded by a rope ring.
These four badges have now brought my little collection up to eight examples:None of these has ever cost more than 50p each and they remain a very affordable little area to collect. I am sure there will be many more designs to find, so I will keep hunting!