The Inaugural badge tradition started in 1937 with the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt. The Washington D. C. Metropolitan Police authorities and the commissioners issued
Inaugural Badges to selected individuals for identification purposes and access to the inaugural events. Each badge was silver in appearance and numbered on the face of the badge.
They were then, and are now made of metal and were of a custom die design, an eagle-topped shield with the U.S. Capitol shown and the words Metropolitan Police and the initials D. C. on each side.
Each badge has the name of the President-elect and Vice President on it as well as the year of the Inauguration. Very few badges were ever made, especially in the early days of their use.
They were much sought after, and to be given one was a great privilege. They were also worn by Officials assigned to the Inaugural events. The tradition, thus born continued in 1941.
There were no formal Inaugural Ceremonies in 1945, World War II was stilled being waged, so there was no badge made for the Inauguration.
Authorities however allowed a commemorative Sterling Silver badge to be done years later.
In 1995 there was a commemorative badge made to fill the missing year in the set. It was a solid back badge made by Blackinton, was sterling silver in content, and only 100 badges were made. On the reverse facing was the inscription “50th Anniversary” “1945-1995”. Hallmarked VHF Blackinton.
In 1949 the tradition continued again with badges brass and silver in color and was a numbered badge as done in the earlier inaugurations. In 1953, there were two badges made for the inauguration, one silver badge and one brass badge and each was numbered on the face. The silver badge was worn by the Washington D.C. Police Department representatives
and the brass one was worn by the Inaugural Officials. In 1957, the process was repeated of issuing two badges for the Inaugural event.
The 1957 Eisenhower traditional badges was the last traditional badge to have a number placed on the front of it.
In 1961, there were 2 minor significant changes made for the Inaugural badge. The Officials went back to one brass badge and the numbering stopped on the facing,
this practice has continued to the present date.
Beginning in 1981, two badges were issued for each Inauguration; a “Traditional” design which was issued by the Chief of Police of the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police.
This badge follows the same design as the original one issued in 1937, and has the President and Vice President names and year of the Inauguration.
And the 2nd badge known as the “Street Badge Traditional” which was issued to uniform law enforcement officers working and assisting with the Inauguration.
The “Street” badges designs differ from year to year, they featured high quality, intricate and colorful designs with the year of the Inauguration.
In 1981, the Officials again made additional minor significant changes for the Inaugural Badge. They continued to use the same custom die, only with a solid back badge that contained a Hallmark on the reverse side for the Chiefs Traditional Badge. The Street Traditional Badge was a solid back badge with a Hallmark and a control number on the reserve side.
Previously, all the badges between 1937 and 1977 were shell back badges without a Hallmark.
In 1993, there were 2 different styles of the official “Traditional” badge and also 2 different styles of the official “Street” badge. This was due to Blackinton and Bastian Mfg. firms both producing badges for the inauguration of 1993. This was the only year that this occurred.
In the past there have been 4 manufacturers associated with these badges: Lamb, Seal & Stencil, Blackington, Bastian, and Collinson.
With the exception of 4 Inaugurations Blackinton has been producing these quality badge for over 60 years. The Blackinton tradition stopped in 2009.
These badges are much sought after not only by collectors of police insignia, but also collectors of Presidential memorabilia and those who collect Inaugural items of every description.
There were no trade marks or hallmarks of any kind on any of the traditional badges from 1937 up to and including the 1977 traditional badge. The 1957 Eisenhower traditional badges was the last traditional badge to have a number placed on the front of it. From 1937 up to 1977 traditional badges were made with a shell back design and contained a control number on the facing in the top right oval.
Exception to this rule was that a 1957 badge was later reproduced in 1993. It was a solid back badge, silver in color and had no number stamped on the facing. On the reverse facing there was a control number issued, and had the inscription “ REPRO"” “1992” with hallmark stamped Blackinton. It's unknown as to how many were produced, badge was verified by Blackinton as one they made for MPDC. Blackinton has no history or information on this badge - no records kept.
From 1981 to the present traditional badges have been solid backed. From 1981 to the present there is a hallmark for each year badge that was produced for the series. From 1981 to year 2005 there were no control numbers on any badges. From year 2009 to the present there is a control number on each reverse facing of a badge.
The 1993 traditional had two different badges styles issued by 2 different manufacturers. The manufacturers were Blackinton and Bastian.
In 2005 there were two traditional badges made. There was the standard bronze badge and there were also 100 Sterling Silver badges. These badges were distributed by the Chief of Police to members of the police dept., various associates and friends.
In 2009 Blackinton lost the contract for the traditional badge and it was awarded to Collinson. Two badges were made of Bronze and Silver Plated. The Collision hallmark is on both Traditional badges. Additional Inscription "Chief of Police” “Cathy L Lanier” as well as a control number. The bronze badge has a sequential control numberer this series. The Silver plated badges are all marked “1”.
Exception to this year is that when Blackinton lost the contract they still produced a traditional badge as well. The badge was made in the same die used over the years. It was made
in a Similar Bronze color and contained both names of the elected on the facing. On the reverse facing it was left plain, no hallmark and no control number. These badges were
given out as a thank you to Apparel Stores selling and promoting Blackinton Badges in Metro D C and other high volumes stores within the U.S. It is unknown as to number made.
In 2013 Chief Lanier ordered 2 Traditional badges made in Bronze Copper and Silver plated. Each badge contains a Hallmark and control number. Also the inscription "Chief of Police Cathy L Lanier”. Very LOW numbers produced due to budget restrains. Each badge series has a sequential control number on the reverse facing.
In 2017 Chief Peter J Newsham ordered 3 traditional badges made by Colinsion. They were made in Brushed Copper, Brushed Silver and Polished Brass. Each badge contains a hallmark of Colinsion and control number. Control numbers are sequential for each series of badges produced. Also the inscription “Chief of Police Peter J Newsham”.