Collectables from the Boer War are some of the more challenging things to pick up today, the war being 120 years ago. Those items that do come up tend to be more expensive and it can be a daunting area of collecting to start out in. One cheap and fun area to start off collecting in are small celluloid and tin pin badges produced in the hundreds of thousands for civilians to buy during the Boer War. These little pin badges can still be found with some turning up for less than a tenner each.
This pin badge is one of the more common designs to find and depicts Lord Roberts:
The design depicts a black and white image of the general in front of the Union Flag with his name and the word ‘Pretoria’. Other examples can be found that have the same design, but different war leaders suggesting that these were a popular item to try where the aim was to collect the set. Interestingly the badge was made in the United States, by Baldwin & Gleason Company Limited of New York:
This novelty company was one of the largest manufacturers of celluloid badges, or ‘buttons’ in American parlance, and had started producing examples as promotional items for elections as early as the 1870s. They were colourful, cheap and mass produced and spawned a collecting bug in many children. Even today they offer a great entry point into Boer War collecting for those of us on a budget.