Time Travel Tuesday: Not Just a Patch

ensign logo pictureMost of you probably know that EnMart sells blank patches. These squares and circles,  ovals and oblongs,  rectangles and rockers are a popular item,  but they’re not just for embroidering with a name or a logo.  Other markets for patches could include the souvenir market,  morale patches,  merit badges and more.  Over the years,  patches have taken on many different meanings.  In this Time Travel Tuesday post,  I thought it might be fun to take a look at some of them while,  perhaps,  pointing out some potential new markets for patches.

The use of emblems to signify allegiance with a particular group has existed pretty much as long as recorded history.  Heraldic emblems were common in this time period.   An heraldic emblem or crest was often used to represent a noble house or knight,  and would show up on flags and tapestries when that particular individual or family was represented.  Wearing a heraldic badge showed allegiance to a particular family or house.   The two sides in the English “War of the Roses” used white or red roses on, among other things, badges,  to symbolize which side they had taken in the war.   A badge was an easy way to identify who was friend and who was foe.

Badges as collectibles or a record of having been to a particular place, souvenirs we’d call them now,  also have their root in history.  Pilgrims in the Middle Ages used to get metal badges from the famous shrines they visited.  This was such a common practice it was even mentioned in the “Canterbury Tales” by Chaucer. In later years,  when automobiles and trains and planes made the process of traveling simpler,  many people started collecting badges from National Parks or other attractions they’d visited to help commemorate their stay.  There is even a market for national park collectibles, particularly vintage badges.

Merit badges are another type of badge that has been around for quite a while.  Anyone who has participated in the Girl or Boy Scouts is familiar with a merit badge,  which is awarded for completing a series of tasks or learning a new skill.  The Boy Scouts began using merit badges in 1911.  The Girl Scouts in 1912.  Merit badges are popular with many clubs and can be used to showcase achievements and new skills,  or to signify new ranks earned within the group.

Emblems have a long history of providing identity and cohesion for a group,  of commemorating an event or occasion that people want to remember,  or memorializing the learning of a new skill or the achievement of a new rank.   Part of the reason the trade in vintage emblems is so brisk is the fact that these emblems symbolize and event or memory of which people want to be a part.   Who wouldn’t have wanted to be one of the people entitled to wear the mission patch for Apollo 11?  What memories would a person have if they collected a badge during a visit to every National Park?  Emblems are part of our history and also a little piece of history themselves.


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