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Presumably there will be more after the US presidential elections in November with buttons – as badges are known in the US – being produced for the Kerry campaign which are wide-ranging, eg Doctors for Kerry, Catholics for Kerry, Patriots for Kerry, Veterans for Kerry, while anti-Bush buttons carry the slogans ABBA (Anybody But Bush Again), Bush/Cheney – Why change Horsemen mid-Apocalypse, and We’re All Wearing the Blue Dress Now.

Published as a tie-in to the exhibition by the curator of the museum’s department of coins and medals, this book discusses the badge as a tool to signifiy political allegiance or contempt, social injustice, support or dislike for the monarch and, more recently, as a mass symbol of global protest over war, peace relations and regime change.

These tiny emblems reveal much about a nation’s history, its politics and its people. War badges emerged in Britain with the Boer War but peace badges took longer to evolve – everyone will recognise the peace movement badges of the Sixties and in particular the CND logo. Up to date is the 2003 Don’t Attack Iraq badge, and Saddam Your Time is Up, just two of 200,000 of various designs for the Stop the War coalition.

Badge-wearing is often about rights; for women, ethnic minorities and repressed peoples. One badge supporting suffragette hunger strikers sits beside another opposing it. And then there’s the sort of silly Gay Whales against racism stuff. The earliest badge here – a piece of pewter jewellery of the 1320s – is very probably a satirical view of Edward III and his mother Queen Isabella.

This well-documented and illustrated book covers the history and development of the humble badge and its links to the British monarchy; politics national, international and sexual; British and US trade unions; war, peace; and, to a lesser degree, race.