A Visitor badge is a device or accessory, often containing the insignia of an organization, which is presented
or displayed to indicate some feat of service, a special accomplishment, a symbol of authority granted by taking an oath (e.g., police and fire), a sign of legitimate employment or student status, or as a simple means of identification. They are also used in advertising, publicity, and for branding purposes. Police badges date back to medieval times when knights wore a coat of arms representing their allegiances and loyalty.
Visitor Badge can be made from metal, plastic, leather, textile, rubber, etc., and they are commonly attached to clothing, bags, footwear, vehicles, home electrical equipment, etc. Textile Visitor Badges or patches can be either woven or embroidered, and can be attached by gluing, ironing-on, sewing or applique. Badges have become highly collectable: in the UK, for example, the Badge Collectors’ Circle has been in existence since 1980. In the military, badges are used to denote the unit or arm to which the wearer belongs, and also qualifications received through military training, rank, etc. Similarly, youth organizations such as scouting and guiding use them to show group membership, awards and rank.
Visitor Badges were popular as jewellery in the Middle Ages, and varied from extremely expensive works of jewellery, like the Duns table Swan Jewel, to simple mold-made badges in lead or other base metals. Specialized forms were the pilgrim badge, worn by those who had completed a pilgrimage, and heraldic or livery badges, worn to denote service or allegiance to a political figure — these last were especially popular in England, and became very controversial in the period leading up to the Wars of the Roses. One royal celebration in 1483 was marked by the distribution of 13,000 badges, a huge number relative to the population at the time. Other types were funerary badges, presumably presented to mourners for the funeral of important figures, and simple decorative badges with animals or hearts. The grandest form of Visitor Badges was worn as a pendant to a metal collar, often in gold or silver-gilt.
From the livery Visitor badge , various Visitor badges of service evolved, worn by officials, soldiers and servants. In the British army a metal (today often plastic) cap badge denoting the soldiers regiment became standard by the 17th century, as in most European armies (though not always navies). By the 19th century a badge was an almost invariable part of any uniform, including school uniforms, which in the UK usually still feature the school’s badge in cloth on the breast pocket of the jacket or blazer.