Scouting memorabilia collecting

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Scouting memorabilia collecting is the hobby and study of preserving and cataloging Boy Scouting and Girl Guiding items for their historic, aesthetic and monetary value. Since collecting depends on the interests of the individual collector, the depth and breadth of each collection varies. Some collectors choose to focus on a specific subtopic within their area of general interest, for example insignia issued prior to the 1970s Boy Scouts of America requirement that all insignia have either the fleur-de-lis or the acronym BSA; or only the highest ranks issued by each nation. Others prefer to keep a more general collection, accumulating any or all Scouting merchandise, or Scouting stamps from around the world.


Second edition of Scouting for Boys by Lord Baden-Powell, published in January 1908, illustrated by Baden-Powell Scouting for Boys Part 2 cover.png
Second edition of Scouting for Boys by Lord Baden-Powell, published in January 1908, illustrated by Baden-Powell
A collection of Scout badges, attached to a poncho, seen at the Fourth Pentathlon Jamboree in Fredericton, New Brunswick, 1986 Scout Badge Poncho.jpg
A collection of Scout badges, attached to a poncho, seen at the Fourth Pentathlon Jamboree in Fredericton, New Brunswick, 1986
Belt buckle of defunct Spanish Scouting association Hebilla Scouts de Espana.png
Belt buckle of defunct Spanish Scouting association
Early Boy Scouts of America uniforms, from the 1910s Boy Scouts of America War Service uniforms 1917-1918.jpg
Early Boy Scouts of America uniforms, from the 1910s
Girl Guides commemorative postage stamp Faroe stamp 033 girls guide.jpg
Girl Guides commemorative postage stamp


The collecting of Scouting memorabilia likely began when Scouting was founded in Britain in 1907, though in those early years many did not think to save their items, and so much is lost to history. Early Scouters often sewed awards they had earned, as well as insignia they had traded with other Scouts, directly to woolen campfire blankets. Most of the original Scouting insignia of that period was wool itself and has not survived. Several beautiful examples of these early campfire blankets exist in the collection of the Koshare Indian Museum [1] in La Junta, Colorado.


The vast bulk of Scouting items exist, first and foremost, to recognize a Scout for his or her accomplishments in Scoutcraft, to engender feelings of kinship with other Scouts similarly outfitted, and to assist in the practice of his or her Scouting. The collection of Scouting memorabilia is one of the many ways Scouting can be enjoyed, studied, and passed down through one's family. Everything pertaining to Scouting can be collected. The concept of Scouting memorabilia is not limited to cloth and metal insignia, uniforms and awards, but extends to handbooks and advancement pamphlets, postage stamps, magazines, camping equipment issued by a national Scout organization, photographs, coffee mugs, and other items. Some of these areas may overlap with other spheres of collecting, when valued for a connection to a historical event; for instance if a president signs a document related to Scouting, the pen and the document itself may both be considered related to that president as well as to Scouting.

Living history

Another aspect of collecting is that of living history. There are several individuals and groups who collect period uniforms and equipment in order to re-enact Scouting of the past. Quite popular is the portrayal of Baden-Powell, authentically costumed, reading his last message to Scouts. Indeed, one of the Venturing (Boy Scouts of America) electives is Outdoor Living History.

Campfire blankets

Patch poncho BadgePoncho02.jpg
Patch poncho

The camp blanket [2] is a significant piece of memorabilia for many Scouts and Girl Guides around the world. Scouts and Guides sew badges onto the blanket to represent all their achievements and events competed in, and out, of Scouting. Camp blankets are often used to display and store badges "earned" in a younger section, e.g. a Guide will sew her Brownie badges onto her blanket or a Scout will sew his Cub badges. [3]

The camp blanket is not limited to fabric badges or patches. The blanket can also include neckerchiefs, pin badges, sashes and other memorabilia. The size, shape and layout of badges on a camp blanket has no guidelines. They can be randomly scattered, or organized in any way chosen by the owner.

Camp blankets can take various shapes but they are broadly found in three forms. 1) A standard blanked with fabric patches or badges sewn on but no change to the shape of the blanket. 2) A "poncho" style where a hole is cut in the center of the blanket, the blanket is then worn over the head. 3) The blanket has a slit cut from one edge to the center to allow the blanket to be worn over the shoulders, fastenings may be added.

Camp blankets tend to be worn at campfires and singalongs in the evening, where an extra layer is a welcome addition to normal clothing as the temperature drops. The blanket can also be used at night as an extra sleeping layer or pillow.

The first use of the camp blanket is unknown, but it can be traced back to Native Americans, who wore them as ponchos around their camp fires. [4]

The blanket often represents experiences in the Guides or Scouts-camps attended, interest badges earned, and interests outside of Guiding and Scouting. Many Guides and Scouts take patches from their home area to large camps or international gatherings to swap with the people they meet, providing them with a memory of their experience at camp.


All Scout organizations periodically change the design, name, and availability of their Scouting memorabilia, depending on factors such as changes in society (such as the shift from an agrarian society to an industrial society in 20th century America, or Macedonia's change in flag twice shortly after independence), availability of materials and manufacturing processes available, merging of local districts, councils and in some cases whole organizations, and frequently just artistic whim. The participant patch (usually embroidered or woven) for the first Japanese National Scout Rally was printed on paper, because of the financial situation of that time. Period pieces of Japanese Scouting memorabilia from the U.S. occupation period of Japan are rare, often fetching upward of U.S. $1,000.00.

Organizations and resources for collectors

Many organizations around the world are dedicated to accumulating and disseminating information on various Scouting memorabilia. The Scout collecting organizations Scouts on Stamps Society International (SOSSI), the International Badgers Club, [5] the Scouting Memorabilia Club of Japan, the International Scouting Collectors Association, [6] the Scout Memorabilia Collectors of Canada, [7] and the American Scouting Historical Society [8] are a few of the resources available to collectors of Scouting memorabilia.

Many collectors guides and buyers' guides have been published since the first ASTA Blue Book in 1959, among the most well-known are the Arapaho series, which deal with locality-specific Boy Scouts of America insignia.

World Scout Collectors Meetings

The World Scout Collectors Meeting is an opportunity to view Scouting memorabilia and history, learn more about world Scouting and collecting, meet collectors from other countries, and acquire and trade Scouting items and other collectible objects. Regional and National collectors meeting also are organized.

1stFlag of Switzerland.svg   Switzerland Bullet 1983
2ndFlag of France.svg  France Dourlers 1984
3rd Flag of Luxembourg.svg Luxembourg Wiltz 1985
4th Flag of England.svg England Chalfont Heights1986
5thFlag of France.svg  France Condé sur Noireau 1987
6thFlag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia Sydney (16th WSJ)1988
7thFlag of Denmark.svg  Denmark Copenhagen 1988 7th World Scout Collectors Meeting badge.jpg
8th Flag of Italy.svg Italy Veneto 1989
9th Flag of England.svg England Overstone 1990 1935 Central European Jamboree Spala ZHP.png
10th Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium Leuven 1991
11th Flag of Switzerland.svg Switzerland Kandersteg 1992
12th Flag of Switzerland.svg Switzerland Bullet 1993
13th Flag of France.svg France Dourlers 1994
14thFlag of the Netherlands.svg  Netherlands Baarn 1995
15th Flag of the United States.svg United States Tennessee 1996
16th Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium Habay 1997
17th Flag of Denmark.svg Denmark Copenhagen 1998
18th Flag of Austria.svg Austria Vienna 1999
19thFlag of the United States.svg  USA 2000
20thFlag of England.svg  England Cobham 2000
21st Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium Leuven 2001
22nd Flag of Spain.svg Spain Barcelona 2002
23rd Flag of Italy.svg Italy Rome 2003
24th Flag of the Netherlands.svg Netherlands Baarn 2004
25thFlag of Denmark.svg  Denmark 2006
26th Flag of England.svg England London 2007
27th Flag of Germany.svg Germany Burg Ludwigstein 2008
28th Flag of Portugal.svg Portugal Fatima 2009
29th Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium Leuven 2010
30th Flag of Sweden.svg Sweden Helsingborg 2011
31st Flag of Mexico.svg Mexico Mexico City 2012
32nd Flag of France.svg France ??? 2013
33rd Flag of Denmark.svg Denmark Taastrup 2014
34th Flag of the Netherlands.svg Netherlands Noordwijkerhout 2015
35th Flag of Austria.svg Austria Vienna 2016

Regional meetings

The First European Scouts Collectors Meeting (ESCM) was organized in Leuven, Belgium in 1992. Since then every year an ESCM is celebrated in Leuven (Except in 2002. The event was held in Ghent, Belgium.). In 2007 the name changed to "European Scouts and Guides Collectors Meeting" (ESGCM).

As business

Only relatively recently has the concept of marketing such items for monetary gain come into play, though modern Scout councils have become rather market savvy and now often produce collectibles, items meant primarily and specifically for collectors, serving no other Scouting purpose. Some even later destroy remainders of such items to cause forced scarcity, artificial rarity which many see as depriving later or less-monied collectors of the possibility of filling a collection from their unit, regional division or area of interest. For merchants of Scout memorabilia, the Society of Scout Memorabilia Dealers serves as an umbrella organization.

See also

Related Research Articles

Scouting World-wide movement for the education of youth

The Scout movement, also known as Scouting or the Scouts, is a voluntary non-political educational movement for young people open to all without distinction of gender, origin, race or creed, in accordance with the purpose, principles and method conceived by the founder, Lord Baden-Powell. The purpose of the Scout Movement is to contribute to the development of young people in achieving their full physical, intellectual, emotional, social and spiritual potentials as individuals, as responsible citizens and as members of their local, national and international communities. During the first half of the twentieth century, the movement grew to encompass three major age groups for boys and, in 1910, a new organization, Girl Guides, was created for girls. It is one of several worldwide youth organizations.

Patch collecting or badge collecting is the hobby of collecting souvenir patches or badges.

Scout (Scouting) member of scout movement

A Scout is a child, usually 10–18 years of age, participating in the worldwide Scouting movement. Because of the large age and development span, many Scouting associations have split this age group into a junior and a senior section. Scouts are organized into troops averaging 20–30 Scouts under the guidance of one or more Scout Leaders. Troops subdivide into patrols of about 6–8 Scouts and engage in outdoor and special interest activities. Troops may affiliate with local, national, and international organizations. Some national Scouting associations have special interest programs such as Air Scouts, Sea Scouts, outdoor high adventure, Scouting bands, and rider Scouts.

Wood Badge

Wood Badge is a Scouting leadership programme and the related award for adult leaders in the programmes of Scout associations throughout the world. Wood Badge courses aim to make Scouters better leaders by teaching advanced leadership skills, and by creating a bond and commitment to the Scout movement. Courses generally have a combined classroom and practical outdoors-based phase followed by a Wood Badge ticket, also known as the project phase. By "working the ticket", participants put their newly gained experience into practice to attain ticket goals aiding the Scouting movement. The first Wood Badge training was organized by Francis "Skipper" Gidney and lectured at by Robert Baden-Powell and others at Gilwell Park in September 1919. Wood Badge training has since spread across the world with international variations.

Badge accessory with insignia indicating membership, rank or accomplishment

A badge is a device or accessory, often containing the insignia of an organization, which is presented or displayed to indicate some feat of service, a special accomplishment, a symbol of authority granted by taking an oath, a sign of legitimate employment or student status, or as a simple means of identification. They are also used in advertising, publicity, and for branding purposes. Police badges date back to medieval times when knights wore a coat of arms representing their allegiances and loyalty.

Merit badge (Boy Scouts of America) award of Boy Scouts of America

Merit Badges are awards earned by members of the Boy Scouts of America, based on activities within the area of study by completing a list of periodically updated requirements. The purpose of the merit badge program is to allow Scouts to examine subjects to determine if they would like to further pursue them as a career or vocation. Originally, the program also introduced Scouts to the life skills of contacting an adult they hadn't met before, arranging a meeting and then demonstrating their skills, similar to a job or college interview. Increasingly, though, merit badges are earned in a class setting at troop meetings and summer camps. Each merit badge has a pamphlet (booklet) associated with it; the pamphlet contains information on completing the requirements for the badge. Scouts must meet up with their Scoutmasters to receive a signed blue card in order to begin working on a merit badge. The Scout then contacts an adult who is registered as a counselor for that merit badge in order to learn which badge requirements they must complete before meeting. Once these requirements are completed, the Scout meets with the counselor to demonstrate that the Scout has completed the requirements. The counselor then 'signs off' on each requirement. After completing the merit badge, the Scout can then receive a merit badge patch.


Firecrafter is a service organization within the Boy Scouts of America. Formed in 1920, the Firecrafter Organization mainly operates within the Crossroads of America Council, Indiana, but has been known to exist in other areas including Illinois and Texas.

The uniform and insignia of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) gives a Scout visibility and creates a level of identity within both the unit and the community. The uniform is used to promote equality while showing individual achievement. While all uniforms are similar in basic design, they do vary in color and detail to identify the different membership divisions of Cub Scouting, Scouts BSA and Venturing. Many people collect BSA insignia such as camporee and jamboree emblems, council shoulder strips and historical badges.

Totin Chip

The Totin' Chip is an award in Scouts BSA that shows a Scout understands and agrees to certain principles of using different tools with blades. It can be physically represented by a patch or a small paper card. With this, a Scout has the right to carry and use woods tools. A Scout must demonstrate to their Scout leader, or someone designated by his leader, that they understand the responsibility.

The history of merit badges in the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has been tracked by categorizing them into a series of merit badge types. In addition to the Boy Scouts of America, many other Scouting and Scouting-like organizations around the world, such as Pathfinders, Baden-Powell Scouts and Royal Rangers, issue merit badges or their equivalent; though they are sometimes called honors or proficiency badges. Other organizations, such as fire brigades, issue badges or awards that they refer to as merit badges, but that are in some respects different from the badges awarded by the BSA.

Cub Scouts (Scouts Canada)

Cub Scouts is the Cub Scout section of Scouts Canada for children aged from 8 to 10. Originally the "Wolf Cubs," the program offers badges to youth members as a mark of achievement in an interest area. The badges are grouped into six activity areas as described in The Cub Book. While youth experience fun and excitement presented by the program, each activity area focuses on a specific purpose and goal, intended to be relevant to modern children while meeting developmental needs. Originally the requirement entry was age 7 until 2001. Each activity area offers a variety of badges that youth may earn and sew onto their uniform sash:

Religious emblems programs also called religious recognition programs are awards set up by some religious organizations for members of various youth organizations.

Interest Project

An Interest Project was an earned award for the Cadette and Senior levels of Girl Scouts of the USA. In the Fall of 2011, a new program was introduced and Interest Projects were retired.

Police memorabilia collecting is a hobby involving the collection and trading of law enforcement-related patches or badges, and other memorabilia including bobby helmets, training manuals, police medals, and historic artifacts such as turn-of-the-century screw-based handcuffs and police-box globes.

Square knot insignia

Square knot insignia are embroidered cloth patches that represent awards of the Scout associations throughout the world.

Mount Diablo Silverado Council

Mount Diablo Silverado Council is a local council of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) and is one of six councils that serves the San Francisco Bay area in California. The council's office is located in Pleasant Hill, California. It serves chartered organizations and BSA units in Contra Costa County, Lake County, Napa County, Solano County, and the cities of Albany and Berkeley in northern Alameda County. The council is located in BSA Western Region Area III.

Edward Leslie Rowan is a retired psychiatrist, sex therapist, active author, and Scouting leader from Exeter, New Hampshire. He has been associated with the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) for over 50 years and is a recipient of the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award (DESA) from the BSA in 1992.

Train Collectors Association

The Train Collectors Association (TCA) is an international non-profit organization of people who operate and collect toy trains, toy train accessories, toy train books, toy train paper, and anything else rail transport related. TCA was founded in October 1954 in Yardley, Pennsylvania and is currently headquartered in Strasburg, Pennsylvania. The National Toy Train Museum affiliated with TCA in included in the "List of museums in Pennsylvania".

The emblem of the International Spirit Award is worn as a temporary patch by both youth and adult leaders in the Boy Scouts of America. The award recognizes those who have broadened their knowledge of international Scouting and increased their appreciation and awareness of different cultures and countries. This award replaces the International Activity Patch (1991-2012).


  4. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-03-05. Retrieved 2011-08-10.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. "The International Badgers Club". 2002-09-01. Retrieved 2013-08-12.
  6. "International Scouting Collectors Association - Homepage". Retrieved 2013-08-12.
  7. "Canadian Scouting Catalogue Page". Scoutalog. 2004-05-16. Retrieved 2013-08-12.