The Celluloid British Legion Button Badge from its earliest beginnings unto the present day

British Legion War Graves Pilgrimage badge
The celluloid badge had been around for sometime but came into its own during world war 2. First seen as early as 1928 as badge to indicate that a member had been on the a War Graves pilgrimage to the battlefield sites of The Great War.


Small Button Badges were first produced in the United States towards the end of the Nineteenth Century as a low cost alternative to the medallions, pendants and "badges" of the day that were expensive to make.

The invention of celluloid in 1856 by Alexander Parkes gave the world its first semi-synthetic plastic and it was crucial in the development of a whole new range of products  from false teeth to our British Legion  button badges on exhibition here.

World War 2 Metal Shortages

1944 Issue Celluloid Ordinary Members BadgeIn 1944 because of a shortage of metal, new members were issued with a round celluloid button (see below in the exhibition) or with a round cardboard badge with the Legion logo overprinted and exchanged after the war . These badges we have subsequently learned (March 2008) where issue in two forms firstly with the more familiar pin and also in a buttonhole version.

The manufacturing process

The manufacturing process consists of  a thin sheet of celluloid being used to cover paper and give the effect of the traditional enamel badge without the cost or labour skills needed to work with enamel. It  meant that less metal could be used in producing badges which in war torn Britain came as considerable blessing and aided indirectly the war effort.

Printed Image

Celluloid Button Badge back with pinAll that is needed is a printed image and a thin sheet of celluloid to cover it cut to size, the celluloid sheet slightly overlapping the paper so that it can be held it in place. Then a pressed metal shell is produced and another machine is used to press the components ( paper, celluloid and shell) oCelluloid button with buttonhole fixingf the badge together.  A metal ring is then attached to the back of the badge to hold the badge together, and press together as in the previous operation. The last component in the process is the pin or buttonhole mounting is clipped into the back of the badge.


Celluloid British Legion Button Badge Exhibition

In the following exhibition we have examples of the between the wars British Legion War Graves pilgrimage, 1944 paper badge, members and conference badges right up until quite recently with the Royal British Legion Youth Section Membership badge.