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Primrose League badge

 

Height: 31.000 mm
Width: 20.000 mm

Gift of E.J. Rapson

CM M8934

Coins and Medals

    Primrose League badge

    Great Britain, around AD 1889

    A brass and enamel badge issued by an early mass-membership party political organization

    The Primrose League was formed in 1883 by admirers of Benjamin Disraeli, the British Prime Minister who had died two years earlier. Its aims were to promote Conservative Party principles and imperialism, and it took as its emblem the primrose, which had been Disraeli's favourite flower. The League issued many different styles of badge, reflecting its complex hierarchy. Most include the primrose and the League's monogram (PL). This elaborate example also has the League's motto, the Latin words IMPERIUM ET LIBERTAS ('Empire and Liberty').

    The Primrose League was an early example of a mass party political organization in Britain. At the beginning of the twentieth century it was said to have one and a half million members. Badges played an important role in spreading its message. The primrose was especially appealing to women, for it made the badges look like a piece of jewellery. In her books on village life in the 1880s and 1890s Flora Thompson wrote that 'the pretty little enamelled primrose badge, worn as a brooch or lapel ornament, was so much in evidence at church on Sunday'. It also made a clear political statement. A writer in The Lady's Realm of 1902 claimed that 'the sight of the Primrose League badge has in some cases done as much to win recruits as the ablest of addresses and most eloquent of appeals'.

    P. Attwood, 'The medal and the badge', The Medal-2, 7 (1985), pp. 43-46

    P. Attwood, Acquisitions of badges (1983-1, British Museum Occasional Paper 76 (, 1990)

    J. Robb, The Primrose League (New York, AMS, 1968)

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