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Ken Sequin’s Badge Collection

March 15, 2022
by the gentle author

From hundreds in his magnificent collection, Ken Sequin kindly selected badges for me with a local connection – and they comprise an unexpected history of the East End.

Button badges were invented in 1896, when Benjamin Whitehead of Whitehead & Hoag in New York filed a patent for a celluloid-covered metal badge, swiftly opening offices in London, Toronto & Sydney as the craze went global.

Adopted first as a means of advertising by tobacco companies, button badges were quickly exploited for political, religious and fund-raising purposes by all kinds of clubs and organisations.

Kingsland Rd Costermongers Association manufactured by E. Simons, late nineteenth century – one of the rarest badges, possibly a unique survivor

Souvenir of Dirty Dick’s in Bishopsgate, twenties or thirties

St John at Hackney Parochial School founded in 1275 is one of the oldest in the country, early twentieth century

Woolwich Arsenal Football Club, 1907

Hackney Band Club, hat badge c1873, one of the most radical Working Men’s Clubs

Boer War, 1900 – one of the very earliest button badges in this country

Reverse of previous badge, note local manufacturer

Royal Eye Hospital, Moorfields – early twentieth century

Lea Bridge Speedway Supporters’ Club – 1928-32

Dartford Pageant, 1932

Possibly the Regal Edmonton, 1934

Bethnal Green Men’s Institute, Gymnastics, Turin St, early twentieth century

Temperance and Salvation Army buttons, early twentieth century

Dockers Trade Union Badge, established 1889

A cache of badges found in an allotment shed in Walthamstow

World War II propaganda badges

Salvage. Dulwich Council

St George’s Sunday School, Weslyan Mission House, in the eighteen-nineties it took over Wilton’s Music Hall

Reverse of previous badge

WWII National Air Raid Precautions Animals Committee, dog’s identity badge

World War II badges for fundraising clubs to build airplanes

WWII Fundraising club to buy a destroyer

First Labour Mayor of Poplar, Will Crooks was elected MP for Woolwich in 1902

Reverse of buttons above

Dulwich & District Defence League, a Home Front battalion established in 1915

The Mildmay Hospital in Shoreditch was named after Francis Bingham Mildmay in 1890

Early twentieth century silver badge rewarding service in hospital ‘meals on wheels’ service

Barnado’s Young Helpers’ Badge with a portrait of the founder, early twentieth century

Tilbury Seamen’s Hospital, ‘For services rendered’ – possibly thirties

John Groom’s Crippleage & Flower Girls Mission, fund-raising rosettes, c 1900

Photographs copyright © Ken Sequin

You might also like to take a look at

John Gillman’s Bus Ticket Collection

Viscountess Boudica’s Domestic Appliances

Libby Hall’s Dog Photography Collection

Clive Murphy’s Matchbox Label Collection

Stephen Killicks’s Truman’s Beer Label Collection

Philip Mernick’s Cartes De Visites

8 Responses leave one →
  1. Chips Barrett permalink
    March 15, 2022

    Up The Arsenal!

  2. March 15, 2022

    A wonderful collection! — Yes, the badge that ignored German products is most interesting. “Made in Germany” was once meant to be degrading, but developed into the opposite. Nowadays it is reversed again: so much Planned Obsolescence is built in that the products have lost their quality again…

    Love & Peace

  3. rosie barker permalink
    March 15, 2022

    Wonderful collection giving many historical insights

  4. March 15, 2022

    Ken’s badge collection has been inspirational. We love a badge! – a little piece of history

  5. Paul Loften permalink
    March 15, 2022

    Wonderful collectionThank you both ! At primary school we had a craze of making badges from bottle tops and used the inner cork as as pin. Double Diamond Works Wonders R Whites Lemonade . It only worked on our shirts which were covered in them and they were limited in the message they delivered . 8 year olds didn’t worry about that though !

  6. Adrienne permalink
    March 15, 2022

    These badges are wonderful. Ken’s whole collection must be AMAZING!

  7. March 15, 2022

    GA, you always lavish us with wonderful collections. Love it. These are fantastic — especially the photographic images, my favorites. Many years ago, a friend gave me a contraption called a
    “Badge-o-Matic”, and I made my own pin-back badges. Imagine the fun? Some of my favorites, that ended up being the “keepers”, were old family photos, transformed into badges. Guaranteed to get noticed! — the badge I made of my Dad in his vintage baseball uniform has prompted people to walk across a crowded room to inquire………”Wait. WHO is THAT?”. And the stories just
    keep flowing.

    Ken’s collection is amazing. Thanks for shining a light.

  8. Mark permalink
    March 15, 2022

    I love badges.
    These badges are great.
    Ta very much!

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