Queen Victoria's Jubilee souvenir badge
United Kingdom, 1897
Large numbers of these badges were sold as souvenirs of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897. They showed a portrait of Victoria when she came to the throne in 1837, aged eighteen, alongside an image of her in her jubilee year. She died four years later. State occasions such as coronations, jubilees, weddings and funerals can arouse enormous interest in the monarchy and badges have been used to indicate support as well as dissent for centuries. During the English Civil War, supporters of the monarchy wore badges depicting King Charles I and the future King Charles II.
The reverse of the Queen Victoria badge shows the name of Whitehead and Hoag. The company was based in Newark, New Jersey, USA, and had agents in London. It patented the modern 'button' badge, consisting of a printed paper disc covered with a thin layer of celluloid with a stick pin behind, in 1896. The first such badges were given out with cigarettes and confectionery, and immediately caught the public imagination. Their potential for publicity was quickly realised, and they were used in the US presidential campaigns of 1896.
P. Attwood, Status symbols: identity and b (London, British Museum Press, 2004)
Circumference: 15.000 cm