A brief history of the button badge

The Button badge may have older beginnings than you first thought

Badges have been around in one form or other since the Bronze Age, their initial use would have been functional, acting as a sort of safety pin to hold garments together, known as Fibula. But as processes evolved, their appearance would become more decorative and their importance in expression would diversify immensely.

The birth of the badge

​From the ancient Greeks and Romans to the late medieval period and Celts, brooches became more expressive, closer to jewellery. A great example of how decorative brooches became is the Dunstable Swan Jewel, dated to around the 1400’s.

At a similar time, processes began to allow for bulk production of simpler designs made from cheap base metals. These simpler brooches would have been issued to mark completion of a pilgrimage or as livery or heraldic insignia, stating your allegiance to your chosen house.

In the renaissance period, the wealthy elite across Europe started a trend creating ‘personal devices’ which took developed countries by storm. They served as a means of expressing yourself, typically containing an image with a combinations of words that best described your personality.

Making a statement with badges

So brooches moved from function to form and became a means of making a statement. Whether that meant belonging as one part of a group, as a belief in a faith, a statement of wealth or in your earned position within an organisation – such as the army – lapel pins and ceremonial brooches have been a part of military insignia for hundreds of years.

It was this shift to wearing pins and brooches regularly to express yourself, and the increasing ease of which they could be produced that defines the term badge. But who actually coined the phrase ‘button badge’?

Only Badge Base have the answer

Tune in next time folks as we enter a new era for the badge and find out where that humble designation came from. In the mean time, for further information about our button badge creation – whether in design, manufacture or both – please don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of our helpful team via the contacts section of our website.


A brief history of the button badge – part three

Button badges move across the pond

​By the 1960’s in the UK, the same process for producing button badges had long been adopted. Queen Victoria celebrated her diamond jubilee in 1897 with a series of commemorative badges which were sold globally, remarkably close to the Whitehead & Hoag button-boom. Companies nationwide had jumped on the button bandwagon as a means of cost effective advertising, as had schools, clubs and societies.

Button badges become a marketing tool

​Companies nationwide were utilising the affordability and creativity of the badge, with marketing campaigns like ‘travelling at 125mph’ with British rail (pre-privatisation) and ‘making someone happy’ with British telecoms and their mascot Buzby. From subscription membership badges to scouts and girl guide badges, providing positive exposure for charities to TV classics like Doctor Who and Z Cars – badges became a reflection of popular culture in post war Britain.

​God save the Queen

​Perhaps one of the most popular uses for button badges has been within the music industry. Bands throughout the 60’s saw the opportunity and began producing badges as an affordable and versatile form of promotional merchandise, but it wasn’t until the 1970’s and the Punk explosion that badges and their musical connections would be cemented forever.

London was the hub of the Punk movement in the UK, home to infamous venues and establishments such as The Roundhouse, The 100 Club and the NO.TOM guitar shop on tin pan alley. One of the most recognised areas being Portobello road, widely regarded as the epicentre for the punk movement in 70’s London. Here, ‘Better Badges’ was formed. Another punk landmark famous for their affiliation with such bands as the Ramones and the Sex Pistols.

Yes badges and zine’s – often manufactured and printed under the same roof – were essential, customary for Punk and its many sub genres. As we shuttled through the 20th century badges really came into their own, increasingly adopted by an array of acts from Joy Division, Elvis Costello to Blur – crafted with increasing intelligence and detail.

​It’s a digital world – but not completely

​Many industries that enjoyed a ‘hay day’ or ‘golden age’ in the 70s and 80s suffered from a decline or collapse as the digital age and technology took hold. Thanks to sub cultures, the music industry, their affordability and their uniqueness – badges have stood the test of time. There will always be a place for an attractive design or clever motto, as there will always be a place for the humble button badge.

Button badges at Badge Base

​Badges are only limited by the creativity of the designer, adopted by artists, designers and bands alike for decades. Should you be looking for an affordable and reliable service, producing quality badges time and again – look no further than Badge Base. We produce a wide range of fully customisable products at a competitive price point. For more information or for a personalised quote, visit the contact section of our website or email us at info@badgebase.com.


Promotional Badges from Badge Base

Why badges are the perfect promotional tool

Here at Badge Base we pride ourselves on our wide range of fully customisable products, offering our clients everything from patches to stickers, lanyards to keyrings. And although all of our products receive rave reviews from our fantastic customers – our namesake product – badges, remain one of our most popular products.

We wanted to take this opportunity to sing the praises of the humble badge as the perfect promotional tool. Its popularity seemingly immovable thanks to its versatility and low production cost. We’ve put our heads together and decided on our top three reasons why you should be using badges to promote your business!

Badges are versatile and customisable by their very nature

They say good things come in small packages – well, never was this truer than with humble badge. They are so easily customised and when you get the right balance between simplicity, detail and message – the result is a striking product that people will want to pin to their jackets, bags and hats.

​Almost every aspect of the badge can be adapted to suit your requirements: colour, shape, size, material and finish, so you know you can achieve a product that reflects your company, organisation or brand perfectly.

With low production costs, badges make great promotional products

Here at Badgebase, we produce all manner of badges from hard and soft enamel pin badges to die-struck badges, from PVC badges to the classic button badge. Whilst our range of pin badges differ in lead time, price and minimum order quantity – their generally low unit cost make badges perfect as promotional hand out at events or to include within another product purchase.

​Alternatively, if intended as a retail product rather than purely for promotional purposes, their affordability lends itself well to creating profit – especially useful for charities raising awareness as well as money.

Badges are timeless and unflinchingly popular

We might be a little biased, but you have only to glance walking down the street to see that pin badges are everywhere. They’re such a simple way of creatively expressing yourself, whether sending a message or by wearing a logo people can choose to show others what they like or what they believe in. Which is what makes them such a great promotional tool for businesses and organisations!

Any questions? Get in touch with us today

If you think you’d like to promote your business through the power of badges, then please explore our site, there’s oodles of information regarding the different products we have to offer! Or alternatively contact us via email, via our contact section on our website.


​Putting the 'button' into 'button badge'

The land of the free, the home of the brave – and the country that speaks the same language as we do, yet has different names for things. ​God bless America – home of the button badge…

The Whitehead & Hoag Co.

​Back in 1892, two businessmen local to New Jersey, NY joined forces to create a manufacturing business specialising in promotional and advertising novelties. Benjamin Whitehead, who was a printer by trade and Chester Hoag, who was a paper and twine merchant.

Together, they formed Whitehead & Hoag Co. which was the first ever button manufacturer (or button badge as the British would call it) and remained the foremost throughout the early years of the industry.

You say pin badge, they say button

The Americans still refer to pin badges as buttons and ‘button badge’ is an amalgam of the two terms. Initially printing images and slogans on to cloth or paper and stretching the design over a tin back, the company would then use a revolutionary new material known as celluloid, stretched over the button to protect the design.

Their patented designs – clearly recognisable to the button badge that we all know, saw the business go from strength to strength. It was only the departing of first Hoag and then Whitehead that forced their families to sell to one of their main competitors, who eventually phased out the trading name by the mid 1960’s.

Button badges play their part in history

​In the 60 years that the company manufactured the button (badge), they saw two world wars – one of which they had a hand in manufacturing for, countless political campaigns – including presidential ones and the birth of free love and self expression. Needless to say, by the end of the companies reign, the button badge was an every day staple.

​Get in touch with Badge Base

​Next time we’ll be hopping across the pond and finding out how a particularly anarchic movement put pin badges on the map forever. Should you happen to be looking for further information about our button badges – whether in design, manufacture or both – contact one of our helpful team via the contacts section of our website, and we’d be glad to get back to you!


Custom Made Badges

Custom made badges designed to your specifications

Here at Badgebase we specialise in producing high quality, custom made badges that surpass our client’s expectations. Our badge products range from hard and soft enamel pin badges to die struck pin badges, from resin dome badges to the humble button badge. With a wide variety of design types, serving customers across multiple industries – Badgebase have the experience to make your custom made badge designs a reality.

​We pride ourselves on the services we provide; from meeting our clients design specifications with an end product as close to their design as possible, to offering and in-house design service to help customers realise their design regardless of how developed an idea is. Clients need not worry if a design is simply a sketch or photograph and needs completely designing from scratch, or whether you have a complete digital file that transfers perfectly for the desired process.

Our range of custom made badges

Whether you are an individual designer or artist looking to use custom enamel pin badges as an outlet for your creativity, whether you are a club or service requiring polished pin badges as insignia or whether you are an organisation looking for employee name badges, we pride ourselves on the comprehensive range of products we offer and are confident in our superior product quality.

Our custom made badges range in expense and complexity, starting with our highly popular button badges synonymous with bands and charities the world over, through to our extremely detailed 3D die cast badges with their multiple finishes, colours and shapes. Different processes and badges require different lead times and minimum quantities. This is something to keep in mind depending on the timescale you have in mind for your badges.

You can view all of our different variations of custom made badges from the drop-down ‘badges’ section of our website, where you will find information regarding minimum orders, lead times, fastening and finishing options. Here at Badgebase we go above and beyond for our customers and always try to accommodate your requirements wherever possible. If you’re stuck on a lead time or not sure you need the full minimum order amount, get in touch via our contact page and we can go through your options.

Ordering your custom made badges is quick and simple at Badgebase

Request a quote using our easy-to-use quotation form, including all of your specifications and artwork. We’ll come back to you with a price and you can decide whether you’re ready to place an order for the custom made badges of your choice. We’ll prepare the artwork proof for you to sign-off and once your order is confirmed by payment, we’ll set a date and dispatch on the given date.

​So if you have any other questions not answered in this article, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our friendly team via our contact page.


Custom Enamel Pin Badges

The Crafty World of Enamel Badges

The world of enamel pin badges is one of fantastic variety, soft enamel or hard enamel badges, multicoloured, metallic, or fluorescent finishes and a huge variety of shapes cut to your specifications: the possibilities are boundless. With the rise in popularity of craft fairs and the hand-made aesthetic, enamel badges and particularly custom badges have seen a similar resurgence. The sheer versatility of the process lends itself to a plethora of design applications, allowing designers and customers alike to express themselves by wearing these miniature pieces of art.

Pop-culture Pin Badges

In this technology-laden, digital age there is something very appealing about an object as humble as the enamel pin badge. Discreet, tactile and understated, they are a fantastic way to say ‘Hey look, this is me!’ but in a gentle, endearing whisper. Though as analogue or retro as the pin badge may have become, it is the internet and in particular, Instagram that are driving this modern-day revolution of a vintage staple.

Instagram accounts such as ‘Pin Pursuit’ and ‘Patch Game’ drive the interest in searching for the most elaborate, exciting and individual enamel pins out there, with links through to sellers websites to ensure the creator receives the credit. This relatively underground craft-culture has opened up enamel pin badges as a medium for artists and designers alike to express themselves through.

Our Personalised Badge Service

​Our process and service lends itself to any level of customer. Whether you are a designer and have finished digital files at 300 dpi, ready to be applied in either hard enamel or soft enamel. Or perhaps your design is a simple sketch and you need help in realising your design: we offer a comprehensive service from start to finish. The process begins with your email, contact us with your artwork and specifications, perhaps include a picture of how you would like your finished enamel pin badge to appear. If you’re unsure of the difference between hard enamel and soft enamel, we can judge from a picture the finish you require.

We’ll let you know straight away if your artwork will translate through to a really fantastic pin or not, if it needs further work or you require help improving the design we also have an in-house design service so this won’t be a problem. Before undergoing any work that will incur a charge we will quote you a price. With our Pantone matching system, block colour can be matched across a huge spectrum of printable colours, meaning the integrity of your design or logo is easily upheld.

Don’t Be Shy!

​So whether you’re an artist, a company, club, group or just an enthusiastic individual: get in touch with us here at Badgebase via web, email or phone. We’re here to help, so why not drop us a line and see how Badgebase can help you realise your enamel pin badge desires!


Hard Enamel v Soft Enamel Pin Badges

It’s a question we are often asked and we understand why there is a mystique that surrounds the two enamelling processes when creating Custom Pin Badges, so please read on and I’ll provide a few pointers for you that I hope will help.

​Enamel Pin Badges have two main ingredients, plated metal and enamel. Both Hard Enamel and Soft Enamel Pins start life with the design in the form of a die, being stamped into a sheet of premium quality metal and then cut out to the shape of the custom pin design.

“Hey Bob” I hear you say, “Does it cost more to cut a pin badge to shape than leaving it in a circle or a rectangle for example?” The answer is generally No, unless your artwork requires fine cutting, cut-outs or has small shapes like the whiskers of a cat for example, that protrude from the main body of the enamel pin badge. We always advise if a design requires something beyond a ‘standard’ specification then enquire with us beforehand.

Once stamped and cut to shape, the metal shapes that will become your custom enamel badges are plated in the metal colour you have chosen. Once the plating is set, the process of adding colour to the pin begins.

A Hard Enamel badges are created by filling the recesses of the metal base of the badge (‘the Badge Base’ …he-he-he!) right to the top of the surface of the raised metal outlines of the custom badge. The badges are then baked at a high temperature to allow the enamel to harden and achieve the bright vibrant colours you gain with custom enamel pins. Then, the hard enamel pin badges go through a grinding process to flatten the surface resulting in a smooth, polished feel to the surface of the badge when you run your finger over the top of it. The enamel gives a clear reflection in direct light.

With many layers of enamel, baking at a high temperature and the grinding and polishing to achieve the finished result, a Hard Enamel Pin Badge is of real quality and extremely durable.

A soft enamel pin badge is achieved by a single layer of enamel being placed into the recesses of the badge so the effect is a little like valleys and mountain ridges, meaning that once the enamel has dried, there is a contoured feel to the surface of the custom pin badge as you run your finger over it and the dips and ridges of the metal create different effects in direct light with shadows and reflections.

“Hey Bob” I hear you ask, “is one type tougher than the other and what about the cost?” While a Soft Enamel Pin Badge is durable, the Hard Enamel Pin is more hard-wearing due to the process that brings it to life. The upshot is that Soft Enamel Pins are less expensive than Hard Enamel Pin Badges. Both styles of custom Pin Badge however, produce fantastic colouring, allow Pantone colour matching and make treasured and lasting mini pieces of Art.

​As well as with our pin badges, we use the Hard and Soft Enamelling process on our Key Rings, Medals, Cufflinks, Magnets, Tie Bars and Coins. You can see more examples of Hard and Soft Enamelled Pins and products by clicking here. Our Team are happy to advise and help, so feel free to put your questions to them.

Thanks for reading and – mystery solved 😊


Pin Badges for Super Heroes

People have all kinds of uses for pin badges and reasons for custom pin badges made – it’s a really interesting part of our work at Badge Base… inevitably there is a narrative behind the badge. I caught up with Richard very recently to find out more about the story of his design.

This particular badge started off life as a piece of artwork which was borne out of Richard’s desire to do something to recognise the amazing work of the Emergency Services following events which unfolded in London on 22 March 2017. His design featured a monochrome version of the Union Jack and just two words ‘Emergency Services’. Under the text, Richard had symbolised each of the three rescue services as a thin green electrocardiogram line representing the NHS, a thin blue line – a mark of respect for fallen Police Officers and finally a red flame acknowledging the UK Fire and Rescue Service.

Richard had received a great response to his design with feedback which was overwhelming. This caused him to consider the creation of a pin badge to enable people to show their support for the Emergency Services by wearing the design. When Richard got in touch with us to investigate this, we were able to provide several possibilities for him.
An Offset Print pin badge was chosen as the best vehicle for Richard’s design as the fine lines, text and detail of the flames could be replicated precisely through the use of CMYK print. Based on a back of stainless steel, this pin badge featured a traditional pin with black rubber clutch fastener. Custom offset print pins also carry a hard Epoxy Resin coating to the exterior which protects the print from scratches and gives the badge a smooth glossy surface finish.
(Images by kind permission of pixearl.com)

These Pin Badges – a tribute to the Emergency Services, are now being sold to raise funds for Air Ambulance as their work supports all three emergency services. You can find this unique design as an Offset Print Pin Badge for sale at https://www.pixearl.com/charity where £2.00 from every badge sold is donated to Air Ambulance, a service which relies entirely upon the generosity of public donations to fund their work.

Do drop by there and have a look.