“to give expression to their patriotism” – Our Badge Collection
By H Dominic W Stiles, on 4 December 2015
We have a number of interesting badges collected in the past, many presented to the library by Pierre Gorman, the former librarian. The notes are based on information from that era. We have many more badges than this selection here. Click the images for a larger size.
The first one here is the badge of the Guild of St. John of Beverley for the Deaf. This particular badge was presented to the library in 1958 by George Robinson, superintendent and secretary of the Swansea Mission to the Deaf and Dumb from 1933-44. We are told that he received the badge from Selwyn Oxley when he married in 1933, “together with a garish tie”. The Guild was founded in Yorkshire in 1896 but reconstituted with a London branch in 1915. Selwyn Oxley seems to have taken it over, running it with enthusiasm for a time. After his death it appears to have declined. We have various Guild material in the library, including some annual reports.
Next we have two National Institute for the Deaf badges. The N.I.D. became the R.N.I.D. and now of course Action on Hearing Loss. The red badge was designed for deaf persons to wear, the blue for hard of hearing. There are discussions in reports and early copies of the Silent World about badges like this, with some different suggested designs. I suppose these date from around 1948-50.
The next four badges, donated by Pierre Gorman, are for three World Federation of the Deaf congresses. The gold one with the hand is from the Zagreb Congress of August 1955. The blue and white one is from the Rome Congress of September 1957. The next one is from the 1959 Congress which was in Wiesbaden. The last of these, the one with the mermaid – “Syrenka Warszawska” – the Warsaw coat of arms, is from the Warsaw Congress of August 1967.
The next badge is particularly interesting. The Committee Report of the Liverpool Adult Deaf and Dumb Benevolent Society for 1915 (published in the 1916 report), whose Hon. Secretary was George Healey and whose Superintendent was Ernest Ayliffe, says,
The Deaf have shared with others in the wish to do something to give expression to their patriotism. A Deaf Volunteer Corps was formed early in the year and it has a membership of ninety-four. Military and Swedish Drill have been taken, and there is no doubt that the discipline and physical exercise have been beneficial.
Next we have a badge from the National Association of Deaf Motorists. It has a design that depicts a steering wheel. As this is the first mention of them on the world wide web, I am unable to add anything more. It would probably have been active in the 1930s to 1950s, but that is a guess. It may be a topic someone would like to research.
Next we have a badge for the B.D.D.A., the British Deaf and Dumb Association, now of course the B.D.A. The badge was originally luminous, issued to Deaf people in the Second World War. Because they were unable to hear daylight air-raid sirens, the idea was that passers-by would be able to tell them when there was an air-raid. During black-outs of course it would have, in theory at least, alerted motorists (perhaps from the N.A.D.M.!) and pedestrians to their presence. Its size does not suggest that it would be terribly effective. According to the note with the badges, “It should be noted that after the first wave of enthusiasm, few deaf people continued to wear them for the remainder of the war.”