Lapel Pins

Lapel pins (or badges) are popular and can be frequently seen as we walk about. Sometimes they are worn simply as ornaments but sometimes they can mean much more – who cannot be aware of the pink badge worn to create awareness of breast cancer, for example. 

It is generally accepted that lapel badges were first used during the American Civil War where units wore lapel pins to distinguish their units. It served two purposes – it was a visual clue to help keep the units organised in battle and it also served to promote solidarity among the soldiers. In the UK a lapel badge was produced after the Boer War to be worn by the South African War Veterans Association 1899-1902 – again, a means of showing solidarity within a group. 

In the Swinging Sixties there was an explosion in lapel badges where, if you had anything to say, it was put on a badge – CND, Peace and Love, names of pop groups etc .And in the 1970’s with the punk music expression and rebellion in the air it was not so much the message of the button badge but rather how many you could pin on your clothes that mattered!! 

In Freemasonry,probably the best known lapel pin is the small blue “Forget - me- not” flower. Originally devised by German Freemasons in the 1920’s to remind them of their charitable obligations to the poor in Germany it went on to become the symbol by which German Freemasons could identify each other during the period when the Nazis were engaged in the attempted wholesale destruction of Freemasonry. 

Lapel pins are now well used in Freemasonry. Sometimes they are used to help the wearers to identify with each other – thus there are pins for Masonic golfing societies  and bowling clubs. There are also lapel pins for Masons who served in the different branches of the armed forces. Lapel pins are also used to raise funds for specific charities – thus, when the Province of Worcester was raising funds in the period up to 2011 for the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys a lapel pin was designed for that cause. In similar vein “humorous” lapel pins are sold to raise funds for good causes. 

The Museum’s collection contains examples of all the above types of lapel pins – and others!