Collecting Nursing History 45
Post Boxes - Collecting Nursing Badges.

Will Burgess.

Early Nightingale School of Nursing Badge   Please Note: Whilst every care is taken in checking promoted links, we cannot accept responsibility for your use of third party web links.

Post boxes!


In June last year our own forum member and moderator 'backman' started what became a popular topic named 'What was in your postbag today'? When my attempts to answer became too long I decided to attempt, (rather than waste my abortive efforts to add to the forum), to write this short article based upon what was in just one of my own postboxes. All the badge descriptions are cribbed from backman's website -  the origin of most of the book/badges I received on that occasion. So here goes....

At risk, perhaps, of laying myself open to an accusation of cheating - by stealing a topic from our own forum - I thought that you might just like to see what was in my mailbox today. But before I do that I think that I need to admit that I have not just one, but two postboxes… One is in Lincoln (UK) and the other in Crete, Greece. In some ways this gives me a distinct advantage – one or the other will tend to fill up whilst the other is revealing the goodies it contains while I am between the two! Which is often!

And the last one I opened  was the UK box.  And what a plethora of nursing history items fell out (not to mention the bills!) it was like Christmas MKII…. And the first – a superb and major unexpected surprise – what may seem to others a simple book  - ‘Nottingham General Hospital: Personal Reflections’ by John & Lowe, David Bittiner, Publisher: Special Trustees for Nottingham Date published: 1990. Binding: Paperback.

ISBN-13: 9780951559017 & ISBN: 095155901X

, superb condition and extremely readable. In fact, I was well into the book before I had realized that I was supposed to be checking my mailbox! I suppose that I am severely prejudiced as my first promotion after qualifying was to Nottingham, where I was interviewed with several other candidates (8) for a humble D/CN post. There were only two places. The interview was by the entire HMC. I got one of the posts! In spite of apparently failing to answer a question from an elderly female member about whether I liked football.  It was an extremely happy time for me…

Onward. The next item after the book was icing on the cake! The Nottingham General Hospital badge itself..!

Nottingham General Hospital
A beautiful silver gilt and enamel Nurses badge for the General Hospital Nottingham. One of my favourite designs it features the 3 superimposed crowns in relief. Very good condition with enamel in excellent state pin and catch intact. Some staining to the rear which I haven't attempted to clean. Hallmarked for Birmingham 1944,numbered 585,makers mark Vaughton and Son.
Height 45mm

Code: 50128 Price

And what a wonderful item it is, promise, For me, the only question remaining was who, if anyone was the badge awarded to. I usually only purchase badges which bear a nurse name, together with hopefully a date on the reverse.

But exceptional badges in exceptional circumstances demand exceptional action. This was clearly one of those times,

And then, more icing on the cake, The Nottingham City Hospital Nurses badge described below….


Nottingham City Hospital Silver Nurses Badge 1935
A nice silver and enamel badge for Nottingham City Hospital dating to 1935.The hospital had previously been known as Bagthorpe Workhouse Infirmary until it became Nottingham City Infirmary in 1930.The Nursing school which was set up in 1929 did issue a similar badge with NCI but altered to this design when the hospital changed it's name again in 1934/35.The motto translates as the end crowns the work. The badge itself is silver with hallmarks for 1935 and makers mark JWT. There is a small chip to the enamel at the base of the badge but otherwise it is in a good condition with pin intact. Height 28mm

Code: 50149 Price

For me, another stunning item.  Followed by another of my favorite items...

The Prince of Wales's General Hospital Plymouth Nurses Badge

A very nice nurses badge from The Prince of Wales's General Hospital, dating to the 1950s or 60s. The badge is in a good condition overall with no chips or flaking to the design which features the dove with olive branch over the Prince of Wales's feathers. It has however lost it's pin. Makers marks for Thomas Fattorini Ltd Regent Street Birmingham Height 32mm.

The hospital which closed around 1983 has been converted to apartments.


Prince of Wales's Hospital Plymouth Silver Nurses Badge
A nice silver and enamel Nurses badge from the Prince of Wales's Hospital Plymouth. Good condition overall, minor ding to enamel near to L of Hospital but otherwise good, Pin and clasp intact. Named to rear I.L.Rickard No.288 Greenbank Road. Hallmarks for Birmingham 1945 makers marks for Thomas Fattorini

Code: 50048 Price

But one mustn’t be greedy – just pass (the next) package!

And there it was – another piece of total magic.  The large early pattern (perforated) London Hospital School of Nursing badge.  I had been lucky; and then I had been disappointedly unlucky; and then, almost by magic, lucky again. All around the same badge….

The London Hospital School of Nursing Large 1st Pattern Badge
A Nice example of the rare First Pattern badge from the London Hospital. This large size proved too heavy for wear weighing down the nurses aprons when attached. It was replaced by the smaller badge in the similar design. This comes in it's original case from John Pinches of London, which bears the crest of the hospital upon the lid, There slight lifting of some of the edges to the paper cover of the box but this can be repaired.

The badge itself is in uncleaned condition and the face is in good condition except for one small pin hole to the red enamel in the upper arm of the cross. The rear has lost its securing clasp and I have not replaced this( I am able to get a professional repair done by my jeweller however this will incur an extra cost).

The pin is intact. It is engraved to Ellen M Hazell August 1928-August 1931 November 1932 London Hospital J Pinches London. Weight 33 grammes Height 47mm
A desirable badge, in good condition. For your opportunity to own this badge do please contact me if wish to discuss reserving this badge and purchasing it over a period.

Code: 50165 Price:

Next came an absolutely gorgeous Plymouth SRN Medal. I have collected Plymouth since writing the nursing history of WWII Sister Marjorie Early...

The City Hospital Plymouth Silver Nurses Medal
A Silver Nurses medal from the City Hospital Plymouth with original ribbon and suspension bar.Pin and clasp intact.
Named to the rear October 1950 Beatrice Pearce S.R.N.
Hallmarked for 1950, makers mark for the Birmingham Badge and Medal Company. Height 75mm

Code: 50037 Price

And then another surprise. A serious one...

In the same package – and a complete and utter absolute surprise – a second Plymouth City Hospital Silver Nurses Medal – gratis…

The City Hospital Plymouth Silver Nurses Medal
A Silver Nurses medal from the City Hospital Plymouth with original ribbon and suspension bar. Pin and clasp intact.
Named to the rear October 1942 - S.R.N. Nurse D. Cockerell
Hallmarked for xxxx, makers mark for the Birmingham Badge and Medal Company. Height 75mm

Code: 50037 Price

Did the Vendor mean it, or was it a mistake during packing that I would have to return?  I had to ask.  And the answer was no, it was deliberate – ‘it would be a shame to break up what had been a pair’….. I owe the vendor a huge favour – maybe two – maybe more…

Definitely more….  Because the vendor, knowing of my penchant for collecting Plymouth badges had included a third Plymouth medal… 'Village Nurse'.  Superb definition - almost EF (definitely 'Fine"). Unnamed - but I am not one to look gift-horses in the mouth. Or should that be not one for looking into the mouths of gift-horses?!

Village Nurse – Trained Plymouth Nurse
An extremely nice bronze pendant badge on a beautiful wine coloured Ribbon and a possibly gold plated hanging bar itself perfectly inscribed ‘Village Nurse’. Top part of then ribbon showing serious wear, but the badge itself (flat bronze) is in perfect condition. Face side in relief wit a central shield bearing the legend ‘Deo Juvante’  No nurse name. .Height 30mm.

Code: 50149 Price

Maybe more owing?….  Quite definitely. Considerably more  by any measure of generosity…

Things couldn’t improve now, could they?  They did - with the very next package!

A 1914 Nurses Cape badge – Prince of Wales’s General Hospital

These badges were worn on the outside of those superb woolen capes issued to every nurse for at least 90 years. I don't have a description of the actual cape worn with this badge, but at a guess it could have been deep navy blue with a red lining, or, perhaps more likely, that superb military grey cape of the QAIMNS. .Badge height 30mm.


But it was not this angle that excited me most. And I may be quite wrong about this - but there was an Agnes E. Pavey who was once a Sister Tutor at several hospitals - the Middlesex County Hospital, London; the East-Suffolk Hospital, Ipswich; Queen Mary's for the East-End; and the Government Hospital, Southern Rhodesia. That lady wrote "The Story of the Growth of Nursing, as an art, a vocation, and a profession". (Faber & Faber, London. (1937). I have a copy. Mine was printed on wartime 'economy paper' in 1944. The first edition was published in 1938. But my excitement (possibly misplaced) goes much deeper than those facts....

If this badge was once owned by such a distinguished lady then I owe her my very belated and utterly sincere thanks. She would be one reason that for the last twenty years or so much of my life has been spent at our second home - here on Crete!  To explain. I became besotted right at the beginning of my nurse teaching career when I first read chapter II - (2) of this book. It is the real beginning of the book (the first chapter being an overall introduction) and is headed, quite simply, 'CRETE'.


“There is a long narrow island to the south of the Aegean Sea which sixty centuries ago was then the centre of a civilisation…. This is the island of Crete, undoubtedly the cradle of a civilisation…It’s wonders undreamed of by any recorders of history until, in the first years of this century… uncovered the ….palaces of Knossos and Phaistos”….  Agnes E. Pavey.

I was hooked!  I still am, line and sinker - so much so that my wife and I bought and renovated a ruined house on Crete for our retirement - now 21 years ago. The thought of my possibly owning the cape badge of Agnes Pavey (E. Agnes Pavey), and a copy of her superb book, is almost overwhelming. I think that Pavey was hooked too, which is probably why she wrote the book….

And next – could anything improve on what had gone before?  Well, allowing for the relationship between hearts and minds, for me, yes, it could!

A QARANC sweetheart brooch – unspeakably gorgeous!  The photograph simply cannot do justice to the reality of this beautiful brooch – promise. This piece certainly retains its popularity as the most prized example in my QARANC badge collection! 


QARANC Sweetheart Broach
Stunning – seriously so! Before receiving this one I really had no idea of the absolute beauty of this badge. ‘Art Deco’ simply does not do justice to this absolutely pristine example. It could take pride of place in any jewelers shop window – where I suspect it’s tenure would be brief.


'Barrysutton' one of our members and a veritable font of knowledge - especially on military items – had already identified the metal as Marcasite, (an iron disulphide. A metal Pyrite very popular in the Art Deco period). Barry says that they 'used to sell them in the R.A.M.C./Q.A.R.A.N.C. museum, around the 1970's - marasite on silver, they cost about £20 each'... No doubt any QARANC  ladies among us (and many others) will have recognized this before well before me! says 'During its heyday, Art Deco represented luxury, glamour, exuberance, and faith in social and technological progress'. Certainly very popular during the 20's, '30's, and 40's for jewelry among other things Art Deco lost much of its popularity after the 1960’s’.  Perhaps so, but beauty, as the saying goes, is in the eye of the beholder.  In my eye, and by any standards this badge is simply beautiful. And exquisitely made.

And there I was, at the end of my own magical mystery tour of my mailbox – or at least my English mailbox. Eight  superb badges and the cream on the cake? Well, that’s a very difficult question. So many superb items….. I want to say ‘all of them’ – but if my arm were being twisted I would have to say:-

‘Nottingham General Hospital: Personal Reflections’ by John & Lowe, David Bittiner,  Publisher: Special Trustees for Nottingham Date published: 1990. Binding: Paperback.

For myself, this book is its own complete ‘Magical Mystery Tour’.

Nottingham - where I gained my first promotion after qualifying (as an RMN) all those years ago; the first time away from home; my first bank account; my first introduction to the real world of nursing; and where, after many years of experience and courses, (including a Nottingham University M.Ed.,) I finally returned as a Senior Tutor when the school I was working in (Lincoln) was absorbed by the Mid-Trent College of Nursing and Midwifery (aka Nottingham School of Nursing). Where my own career in nursing and nurse teaching was finally completed.

Almost a return home....

Appreciation & Acknowledgements

1. Peter Maleczek - for copyright permissions. Photos 1-7

2. Barry Sutton - Contribution
'QARANC sweetheart brooch'

Photos 8/9/10. Kind permission.  copyright 'mandacollectables' - (

Photos 11 & 12. Kind permission. copyright  'Anotherluckyb' - (ebay).

Wll B.
January 2015.


Schools of Nursing.

Hospital Photograph Collections.

Nursing and Hospital badges.

Irish Nursing Badges.
Eric Wilkinson.


Nursing Organizations

Statutory Bodies.
Nursing & Midwifery Council.

Professional/Trade Unions.
Royal College of Nursing.

Badge Makers.
Thomas Fattorini.
Marple & Bradley
Brooke (Edinburg)
K&S (Edinburgh)
J.Gaunt (London)
(Stirling Scotland)
Bladon (London)
Toye&Co (London)

Collector links.

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Auction/sales sites.

Eg.Tip: Select 'search', 'View Forthcoming Auctions' select 'Search or Browse Lots to be Sold' and enter 'hospitals' in the description field.

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