Sweetheart badges from the First and Second World Wars are very common today and have appeared a number of times on the blog. Earlier examples though are much rarer and the concept only seems to have started becoming popular at the turn of the twentieth century. Tonight we have an early example of these badges that dates back, I believe, to the Boer War. This little badge is less than an inch across and consists of a pair of rifles on a ring:The rifles are particularly well rendered and it is clear that they represent the old Long Lee Rifles:It is impossible to say if it represents the Magazine Lee Metford, Magazine Lee Enfield or the Charger Loading Lee Enfield which were all visually similar, but from the nose it is clear it does not represent the later Short Magazine Lee Enfield introduced into service in 1903. The older Lee pattern rifles were used extensively in the Boer War and as these items of jewellery seem to be most popular during times of conflict then this seems a likely date for the badge. Tokens such as this were given by the departing soldier to a loved one to ensure they would think about him whilst he was away- the significance obviously greatly increasing if there was a chance of him being killed on active service.
The rear of the badge has a simple wire pin fastening that allows it to be worn on a lapel or scarf:This badge then is a nice survivor from over 110 years ago and as is so often the case was bought for a couple of pounds from a seller who had no idea of its significance.