Whenever items have a monetary value be it antiques or designer clothes, there will always be someone prepared to make money out of selling copies and fakes. Militaria and in particular badge collecting, has attracted copiers for many years, sometimes with a genuine intention to supply to the collectors market, sometimes with the intention to deceive collectors.
With an increase in national interest in the army during the South African War of 1899-1902, Fox and Company of Southsea made copies, allegedly from the original dies, of Glengarry badges of the pre territorial era. Over 100 years on, these so called ‘Fox restrikes’ have aged meaning they are very difficult to distinguish from the originals. Ironically they have now become collector’s items in their own right.
In the late 1960’s and throughout the 1970’s, there was an upsurge in the production of fake or copy badges mainly of rare and unusual badges which were sold at antique fairs and through dealers lists. Around this time, a number of made up or spurious badges that were never issued started appearing and along with this, ‘maker marked’ badges became more prolific. With regard to York and Lancaster Regiment badges, the main impact from copies came from the production of badges by the Gaunt Company in the 1970’s.
JR Gaunt and Son of Birmingham was a well known company who had been making badges since 1884. After World War One, Gaunt’s bought up a number of other well known badge makers including Jennen’s and Co and Bent and Parker. In the 1970’s, the Birmingham Mint took over the Gaunt Company and eventually, the Gaunt company became part of the Firmin Group in 1991.
The Gaunt Company made copies of badges in the early 1970’s, purportedly for the collectors market, of a wide range of regimental badges including the York and Lancaster Regiment.
Whilst there are still plenty of these 1970’s copies around, there is speculation that they are still being today made by a small outlet in Birmingham who, it should be added, have no link to the JR Gaunt Company. It is worth considering that any 1970’s made badges were made after the York and Lancaster Regiment was disbanded in 1968 and therefore could not have been used by soldiers of the regiment.
The flaws and characteristics that identify the 1970’s copies can be found on numerous examples of York and Lancaster badges for sale on internet auction sites and on dealers websites. Some examples come on loops, some on sliders but all can be identified as Gaunt copies of the 1970’s.
Although now well aged, fortunately these types of copies are fairly easy to identify and this section gives advice on how to spot these and other copies.
These 'Gaunt style' copies are the most prolific copies of York and Lancaster badges.