Police memorabilia collecting

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Police memorabilia collecting is a hobby involving the collection and trading of law enforcement-related patches or badges,[1] 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.

Public collection[edit]

In the United States, many laws have been enacted which control possession of law enforcement insignia for security purposes, and this has impacted civilian collecting because they do not want the patches to be given to anyone other than law enforcement officers. In addition to this, patch reproductions have also become a problem amongst collectors, and most serious historians regard the reproductions as having no value. Various organizations, such as the California Law Enforcement Historical Society, sponsor annual events which spotlight the historical significance of preserving accurate information for future generations. West Virginia Law prohibits trading patches, yet North Carolina law prohibits departments selling patches.[citation needed]

Though many do not trade or give away patches, many agencies nationwide sell their patches, for around $5, some being for a new police cruiser, charity, or for their explorers program.

Between agencies[edit]

Police memorabilia is also exchanged between police forces themselves. The exchange of patches has begun to be seen as a sign of respect and cooperation between agencies since patches came into more common use in the 1920s for agency identity[citation needed]. With the development of more modern communication between various law enforcement agencies, the trading of insignia has become widespread. One particular example can be seen at the New York Police Department's Museum in New York City, where hundreds of police badges and patches are on display, including those from other American forces, and all constabularies of the United Kingdom, as well as forces from South East Asia and Australia.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ In the United States, the distinction is that patches are embroidered insignia, whereas badges are metallic or plastic items affixed to a uniform

Further reading[edit]

  • Police Collectors News, Baldwin, Wisconsin, first printed in 1986, monthly
  • Police Insignia Collectors Association Magazine (begun in 1974), monthly
  • The Encyclopedia of Federal Law Enforcement Patches Raymond Sherrard (2000)
  • Sheriff's insignia of the United States James V. Claflin (1997)
  • The California Patch Book Randall Grago (1996)