Collecting Nursing History 66
Nurse Uniforms - Fixings and Fastenings
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.



Nurse Uniforms
Fixings and Fastenings



Fixing and Fastenings

Well here we go again then, a completely new article about ‘fixing and fastenings’ used on nursing and hospital badges; belts and buckles – and there are several… Some you might not have seen before. Some you may have – but unless you are an ancient Greek or perhaps latter day Roman you may find new, even ‘Magnetic’, fixings and fastenings herein.

A recent (real live) visit by SoN member and prolific contributor Barry Sutton led to my photographing around 15 fixings and fastenings that I needed for this article. Most items are still in regular use, although it depends, to some extent, on what you collect.

The first item is, believe it or not, the safety pin. Which is probably the precursor of many badges in our collections! Have a look at this one:-


Actually A Royal Navy (safety?) pin badge with the pin adapted to attach to any soft area of a uniform….  Have another look:-



Most definitely a safety pin, whichever way you look at it…  And yet another example below, but with a quite different fixing of the safety pin. This one I believe may be from the first war – WWI.

I am uncertain of the exact method used to manufacture this next badge. But it certainly seems secure.

And the identity of the badge Is still sought....

 The next RAMC badge has the photo perspective tilted to better show the safety pin fastening.



The pin is perhaps better shown below – the method of attachment appears to be solder, but this could have been a makeshift repair.


Safety pin. Copper? Brass? Alloy?

And below another, much more complex RAMC  fitting:-


This photo above really is a built in safety pin, but this RMC badge is much more complex with the pin itself having a metal holder though the loop where the end is cut off, fitted beneath  a bar with the safety end cut off. The loop being anchored to the badge by a built in holder. Very neat, superbly designed and functional.

Plus. Pins and more pins. But this one is obvious: A more modern version of a wartime safety pin  fixing.... 



Very clearly a safety pin!


As is this modern Royal College of Nursing plastic campaign brooch.  Clearly intended to be attached by a safety pin. ‘Scrap the Cap’ was part of an RCN campaign to get rid of the nurse cap.

And this early Royal Devon and Exeter hospital, with the central Red Cross and cantered King’s Crown was issued with a safety pin through the badge loop.


And yet another pin – again built in to the rear of the badge:-

Very old (1914-15) and perhaps not so obvious.  Let’s view the rear….

Unfortunately the well engineered pin has become worn and a little loose and the equally well engineered hook-holder for the sharp end is not clear in the photograph but it is a hook fitting be assured.  And there s also a closed version attached to many early badges:- as below....


And that is not all. This next item is a clip possibly a tie clip from a WWII ship, but not any old ship!  MS Oranje ('Orange') no less….Once the fastest hospital ship in the world during WWII..... I wonder how many of these clips survive? Were they ever used by female nurses or just the men....?

Built in the Netherlands the ship was destined for use between Amsterdam and Jakarta (Indonesia).


But when the ship arrived, World War II had begun, and she was laid up in Surabaya for the safety of the ship. In February 1941, the ship's captain was then ordered to sail to Sydney and to hand over his ship to the Royal Australian Navy.[4] The Dutch government agreed with the Australian government that the Oranje would be converted into a hospital ship. Although she was under Australian command, she kept her Dutch crew and remained under the Dutch flag throughout the war.


The ship had a successful war and was subsequently retuned to civilian use – renamed Angelia Laura.  As MV oranje she was the fastest hospital ship in the world.


But the next pin quite clearly was not designed for safety:-



The ‘Hospice Care Northern Ireland’ pin above.  Although to be fair, there may be a safety cover missing as can be seen in the next offering.

A pin cover can be seen in the next offering.  The pin badge of the Royal Victoria Hospital Belfast Northern Ireland.




Clearly a pin-badge with a riffled pin and safety cover.  Without the cover the pin would be extremely sharp.

Now. A completely different method of fastening from the Royal Navy. Magnets! 


Yes, there are now several badges using this method and it is very effective.  These small magnets are very powerful and easily capable of holding the badge face in situ between a layer of uniform clothing.


Next.  Studs.



 The fixing method can be clearly seen above - Pin through material screw down collar on pin. 

Seen here are the rear stud fastenings which screw down onto pins on the rear of a badge. The pins are built into the rear of the badge, Very secure. Very neat.



The studs (two) can be clearly seen here one behind the crown and the second behind the anchor on this Naval badge. A central pin on each would pierce the uniform cloth with the studs screwed down upon each pin.

Some pin and stud badges, like this on, are known to have more than one pin and stud per badge.


Next bar and loop.

The St Andrews Red cross is most certainly of this type. A similar fitting to a gentleman’s pocket watch.

Left - The Seamen’s Hospital  - ‘The Old Dreadnaught’ - somewhat uncertain how the loop was attached - more research is needed.

**Part two will follow in the new year (2023) with several more badge fixings and fastenings.

Appreciation & Acknowledgements

1. Peter Maleczek - http://www.petersnursingcollectables.com/ for copyright permissions. 

2. Barry Sutton - SoN.

3. http://www.schoolsofnursing.co.uk

Wll B. Copyright Asserted.
May 2022.

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.

Nursing Badges.

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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