New Badges Look OldBy

New Badges Look Old

A series of low-cost new badges look very similar to expensive vintage originals. These new badges are made of solid copper with an "antiqued" silver finish. Unlike other reproduction badges, these pieces are die-struck, not cast.

There are several ways to help you detect these new badges. Be very suspicious of any badges with famous pre-1900 Western towns. Particular names to watch for are Abilene, Tombstone, Laredo, Cheyenne, etc. Next, try to have some idea of the time period in which particular badges were used. The Pony Express, for example, was in operation for only 18 months, April 1860 to October 1861 and employed only 183 different riders. What are the chances of a flea market vendor in New Jersey having two Pony Express badges for sale?

It also helps to have a general idea of how vintage badges were made. Most badges made in the 20th century were made of brass with a nickel plated finish. Nickel was preferred because it did not tarnish like silver which needed constant polishing.

The authentic Railway Express Special Agent badges, for example, were first issued in 1929. The copies, made of copper with a tarnished silver finish, would be suspect.


Two new badges, Pony Express, left, and Railway Express Special Agent, right. Both in "antique" silver finish. A Deputy US Marshall badge is also part of this series. Each of these new badges sold for $15 retail. Comparable originals can run $1000-$2000 and up.