Scutelliphily is the term that refers to the hobby and art of collecting souvenir badges or patches. These types include embroidered, woven, and printable or iron on patches. The word itself is derived from two ancient words – the Latin term ‘scutellus’, which means ‘little shield’ in English and the Greek term ‘philein’ which means ‘love in English’.
The word itself may be a tongue-twister but for patch and badge enthusiasts, the word transcends their passion for history and the art. The history of collecting badges and patches dates back during the ancient times when Roman and Greek pilgrims produced miniature images or emblems of their gods and goddesses. The tradition was carried through and was also adapted by the Christian pilgrims eventually.
The miniature images evolved during the medieval period when Christian pilgrim badges were made more wearable by attaching pins to these badges or images. During the medieval period, one who was seen wearing a shell symbol meant that the person had already been to the sacred shrine of St. James located in Santiago de Compostela, a region in Spain.
The onset of the 19th century also demonstrated a huge increase in the penchant for souvenirs including badges and patches. Secular pilgrims as well as the ordinary travel of people were instrumental to the boost seen in the souvenir industry.
People started to develop a habit of bringing home something that would remind them of a journey. These items range from postcard, magnets, badges, to pins. Patches, on the other hand, became a popular when hiking became highly popular right after the First World War. Hikers started to sew patches on their backpacks and jackets. During those times, iron on patches had not existed yet, and patches were manually hand-sewn on the garments.
In the US, the growing popularity of National Parks was also instrumental to producing the growing numbers of patch collectors. Vacationing started to become more and more popular, and people also started to obtain patches from the places they have visited.
During the Second World War, patches were also widely used in Germany. The term ‘Sweetheart Patches’ was coined by soldiers who used these to inform their loved ones about their current locations.
The interests in patches and souvenirs of people continued even during the 21st century. The types of patches have likewise evolved. People no longer need to stick with traditional embroidered patches. Woven, printable, and iron on patches are now widely available on the market. Even specialized crests or badges can now be obtained by elite groups or institutions.
Collectible patches also range from coat of arms, scout patches, political patches, and uniform patches. Military patches or service patches are also among the top favorites of collectors. Patches that represent Special Forces, air forces, marshals, highway patrol, and the navy are also highly sought after by collectors. Several patch enthusiasts have also dabbled into making their own signature patches – ranging from printable to iron on patches.
Patch and badge collectors also sometimes engage in buying-and-selling on-line. Several collectors have also spent thousands of dollars on ancient patches which were originally used during the First World War.
Scutelliphily is a hobby that people who love history and art would appreciate. It may not be as popular as stamp collecting or toy collecting but the message behind the emblems and designs are too significant to resist. Understanding the satisfaction that old patches can give may not be easily grasped by everyone. However, the joy of collecting something that has witnessed the good and the bad of history cannot be questioned or even measured. From simple badges, to more modern ones like those printable or iron on patches, these items are all worth collecting.