Tuesday, March 29, 2011

British Cap Badges, the First Restrikes - Fox & Company?

In 2005 I purchased a glengarry badge (pre-1881) to the 92nd Regiment of Foot (Highlanders) at a Scottish Import Shop in Seattle. I had previously found another example (not as well struck/detailed), as well as a glengarry badge to the 75th Regiment of Foot (Highlanders). As you may know these two regiments were amalgamated in 1881 to form the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 92nd Gordon Highlanders. All three badges were in brass, which should have been my first clue. All of the relatively modern cap badges to the Scottish regiments are made in what is referred to as white metal, or abbreviated W.M.

Even though I had been collecting British militaria for several decades, at that point, I had not acquired the definitive two volume work titled, “HEAD-DRESS BADGES of the British Army”, by Arthur L. Kipling and Hugh L. King. It is commonly held by collectors to be the best set of references available on the subject, and is frequently referred to as K&K or KK. Unfortunately it is also very expensive, thus both my delay and mistake. However, neither volume go into the detail of forensic evidence required for confidence in today’s badge market.

In both volumes there is a section devoted to Restrikes, the BANE of the British Cap Badge collector. The section starts with a discussion of a little known company called Fox & Company that originated in Southsea, Hampshire, England, in the early 1900’s. Even to this day not that much is known about the company. Somehow they had acquired the majority of the original sets of dies for the then obsolete glengarry cap badges which had been worn by the British Army during the period 1874 -1881.

Even then opportunists had sensed the potential market, albeit minute by comparison with today. As a result Fox produced a series of restrikes, all in brass, apparently none in white metal. Kipling & King stipulates that both variants of the 92nd (KK 564 and KK565 ) are all in white metal. In the case of the 75th (KK540) they stipulate the badge is all in brass, however examples have been found in white metal. To add to the confusion W.Y.Carman in his book, “Glengarry Badges of the British Line Regiments to 1881”, dated 1973 (see below), speaks of a "brass-copper" badge of the 92nd (KK565). I have been advised by knowledgeable advanced collectors that Fox did not reproduce those to either the 75th or 92nd. Unfortunately this fact can’t be finally established without a listing of their wares, which has yet to surface. One clue however are the copper lugs W-E orientation on the circumference of the garter. The originals apparently were lugged, and had a N-S orientation. An additional detail about original badges is that the lugs were either brass or brass plated, not copper. As frequently the case with today's restrikes, the company even took the time and effort to "weather" the badges before putting them on the market. It suffices that their age, now over 100 years, provide their product a certain degree of respectability.

If anyone has any additional knowledge regarding either Fox & Company or restrikes of the 75th or 92nd Glengarry badges I would certainly appreciate hearing from you.

Glengarry Badge (1874 - 1881) of the
92nd Regiment of Foot in brass (suspected
Fox & Company restrike)
Glengarry Badge (1874 - 1881)  of the
92nd Regiment of Foot in brass (back side)

Suspected restrike of Glengarry Badge of the 92nd Regiment of Foot
in brass (compare detail with the badge above)

Genuine Glengarry Badge (1874 -1881) of the 92nd
Regiment of Foot in Silver (Officers)

Genuine Glengarry Badge (1874 - 1881) of the 92nd
Regiment of Foot in white metal (Other Ranks)

Suspected restrike of Glengarry Badge (1874 - 1881)
of the 75th Regiment of Foot

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