Note: Do not rely on this information. It is very old.
BadgeBadge. Though at one time playing so important a part in the science of heraldry and in everyday life, badges stand almost alone in the little that is known about them, and no authoritative rules or laws exist to govern their use. A badge is a matter quite distinct from a crest; neither should a device be confounded with either. The possession of a properly authenticated badge at the present day is a mark of antiquity which but few families possess; and as no fee, however large, can secure a grant or recognition of one of modern date, it is now considered a distinction in no small degree. A crest is never depicted without its accompanying wreath, coronet, or chapeau, a badge is never so displayed, and herein lies the mode of distinguishing the one from the other. Badges were always borne for the purpose of easy identification, and are very often found to bear a "canting "(i.e. a "punning") allusion to the names or possessions of the owner. Prior to, and during the reign of, Queen Elizabeth badges were at the height of their favour, and were conspicuously worn by every retainer, originally embroidered upon the back, breast, or sleeve of the livery, and afterwards embossed or engraved upon metal plates, which themselves were affixed to the cap or other garment of the servant; and from this has originated the present custom of carrying the crest upon the livery-buttons. Thus it was at once a patent fact, to all who troubled to note the badge, in whose service a retainer was, for the badges of a district would be well known therein, and many were household words throughout the kingdom. Their frequent and regular use until the end of the sixteenth century can only now be likened to the manner in which the "broad-arrow" is at the present time everywhere to be seen, marking Government property. But as an example, showing how a retainer would, in the olden time wear the badge of his lord, the uniform of the Beefeaters, at the Tower of London, may be instanced. The White and the Red Roses of York and Lancaster were badges, as are the Rose, the Thistle, the Shamrock, and the Leek of to-day; and amongst others which are well known may be mentioned the "bear and the ragged staff" of the "king-maker," the "talbot" of the Talbots, the "knots" of the Wakes and Bourchiers, and the heart, regally crowned, of Douglas.
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