A STUDY OF NEW YORK BADGES
The way they were made. by Pat Olvey, July 5 1999
Many years ago the American Railway Supply Company printed brochure explaining badges made for the New York City Police. This brochure listed the number of badges produced by rank and showed the style of the badge. The date of the brochure was 1898.
In 1999 another item has occurred that the American Railway Supply Company never thought of. People actually collect badges. Some of the advanced collectors are curious about the way the badges were constructed. I am one of those collectors.
A review of my New York City Collection showed me that the badges were put together in several different ways. The attached images will illustrate those different styles.
Basically I have identified a traditional style badge. When you look at the back of this style badge you can see all of the lettering and the seal that is on the front of the badge. A variation of this is when the eagle is perched on the top of the sunburst rather than being applied to the front of the badge.
Another vairation is referred to as a bell back. The back of the badge is flat with a small indentation in the center.
Still another variation a badge with the lettering not as visible on the back as the traditional style and with the lieutenants panel filled in filled panel style.
A variation of the filled panel style is one where the lettering also appears to have been filled along with the rank panel.
Another interesting variation is one where the back is not visible because a piece of metal has been applied to it. This is known as a sandwich badge. Two of the badges shown here have round areas on the back. A variation of this sandwich badge has a flat back.
A little information on the known makers of the New York City Badges in the ranks of Inspector follows :
The sandwich badges were all made by "Digest & Clust" in Rhode Island.
The "Bell back" badges were made by "Rob Stoll Co." of New York.
The "Lieutenant" base badges were made by everyone, Everson-Ross, Braxmar, United Insignia, etc.
One piece badges made by Peter Sheri Co.
The material used in the making of New York City Badges includes gold plate over base metal, gold plate over sterling, gold fill, and solid gold. Solid gold badges were made by American Railway Supply, Dieges & Clust and United Insignia. Gold fill badges were made by Dieges & Clust and probably other makers.
The bell back badges and their variations were made somewhere in the 1950’s to the late 1960’s. The badges with the eagles perched on top of the sunburst were the early badges. This traditional style was used by some badge makers until the bell back variations of the 1950’s to late 1960’s. The perched eagles were replaced by the eagles being applied to the front of the sunburst circa late 1960’s.
Gold plating appears to have replaced gold fill in the 1960’s. There will always be exceptions to the rule. Presentation badges and privately purchased badges will still be made.
The traditional style badges are currently being made. How long this will last is unknown. The bell back variations and the other styles discussed will be harder to find. The reality may be that all good New York Badges are "Hard to Find".
Front and Back of Bell Back Badge
Front and back of Badge with Filled Rank Panel
Front and back of badge-filled variation
Front and rear of the Sandwich style-Lieutenants Rank
Front view of eagle top sandwich style badge
Rear view eagle top sandwich style, eagle and leaves are applied to the badge
Front view of another sandwich style
Rear view of sandwich style variation, notice that the eagle is in the die rather than applied
Front of traditional badge
Back of traditional badge, notice the eagle and leaves are applied to the front of the badge, the eagle and leaves are in a one piece die. The proper amount of stars are applied to the badge
This is the front of a badge using a traditional style badge
Notice how high the eagle sits on top of the sunburst. Rear of badge using the traditional blank, notice that the eagle is perched on top of the sunburst badge. The leaves and eagle are in two pieces, the proper amount of stars are applied as needed
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