Sweetheart badges or regimental brooches come in a myriad of styles and have become an attractive item to display, whilst at the same time taking up a very small area. Although a little more specialist than conventional badges, they cross the boundary between jewellery and regimental collectables. Some are very simple in design and others are works of art. But the basic concept was simple. Military suppliers or jewellers would manufacture small regimental or battle related badges for soldiers to send as gifts to their loved ones back home.
They were also popular with parents, siblings, friends, and all of whom could wear such badges with pride to show that a loved one was on the front line risking their life for their country. Although they are widely though to have originated during the First World War, they have in reality been around since the Victorian era and endured through WW2 and beyond to the present day.
For the collector, there is an extremely wide variety of brooches available and they cover most regiments, and most eras. Then if you consider that some of them can be made of hallmarked silver and gold – and sometimes then also decorated with fine jewels – you could add some very unique and valuable examples to your collection.
Silver Sweetheart Brooch for HMS Ramillies
HMS Ramillies was built during WW1 for the Royal Navy. She was one of the five Revenge-class battleships which were serving with the British Grand Fleet. The five R-class super-dreadnoughts were HMS Revenge, Resolution, Royal Oak, Royal Sovereign and Ramillies. The Ramillies was laid down first, but interestingly she was last to actually be launched. The ship was still ready to see battle during World War I though and survived it.
During WW2 it served as a convoy escort as well as being recorded as engaging enemy battleships as she was armed with four huge 21-inch torpedo tubes. After also surviving WW2, she was eventually scrapped in 1949 alongside the three other surviving R-class battleships. One of her guns, however, was preserved and it is now on display outside of the Imperial War Museum in London.
The brooch is 52mm long and it has a lion carrying a flag and a banner which is inscribed HMS Ramillies. That sits on a long torpedo. On the back it has hallmarks, which date it to 1916 as well as a manufacturer’s mark which appears to be F W & S. Interestingly, the ship was launched in 1916, so this brooch could potentially have belonged to one of the first people who served on her.
It has a hinged rear pin with hook fastener and is contained in a leather covered wooden box, with a felt and silk lining. The box looks to be original to the brooch.
Available from JC Militaria priced at £275.
Royal Warwickshire Regiment Enamel & Gold Sweetheart Brooch
Here is an enamel and gold Royal Warwickshire Regiment sweetheart brooch with a pin back mount. It features a garter and antelope above the Roman numerals ‘VI’ which represent the 6th Regiment of Foot. This regiment later became the Royal Warwickshire Regiment.
It is a very high quality piece which has been jeweller manufactured in gold. It comes in a display box which is marked Garrard & Co. The brooch is available from World Military Collectables priced at £120.
British Army South Lancashire Sweetheart Brooch
This simple brooch is typical of the reminders of loved ones left behind during war. This one was probably given out by a member of the South Lancashire Regiment.
The mother of pearl brooch, measuring approximately 30mm in diameter, has a gilt and blue enamel cap badge in its centre. Additionally, there is a blue bow hanging below it. It is available from Eagle Relics and priced at £35.
WW2 RAF Sweetheart Brooch
This beautiful white metal RAF sweetheart brooch is designed to recreate a set of RAF wings, and it’s almost the same in size. The fretwork is absolutely stunning and you definitely won’t come across another like this often.
It has incredibly delicate workmanship and detail and you have to wonder how long it took a jeweller to do the work. It retains its original rear pin and it is available from Regimentals and priced at £180.
An Imperial German Great War button brooch
This brooch is an interesting imperial German Great War tunic button which has been redesigned into a brooch. On the front it is inscribed 1914-1915 and it has a flower and chain border. This simple re-use of a button shows the imaginative nature of the jewellers working during the First World War. The rear view shows the fastening pin and you can start to see how much work has gone into making a simple looking object into a very collectable brooch.
It is available from Relic Militaria priced at £24.
Boer War-era South Lancashire Regiment Silver Horseshoe Sweetheart Brooch
Here is a lovely sweetheart brooch in the shape of a horseshoe. The silver is hallmarked 1898, which dates it to the time of the Boer War. It was probably commissioned and made to be given to a loved one by an officer from the South Lancashire Regiment, like the other brooch we mentioned before.
The rear not only shows the construction technique used, but it also displays the hallmarks which date the piece. There is also the manufacturer’s set of initials which look like GH & C.
It is in lovely condition and has a sturdy rear fixing pin. Available from Cultman Collectables for £55.
Interested in seeing some more badges? CLICK HERE to view another article.
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