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Old 11-11-15, 10:36 AM
Newalpost Newalpost is offline
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Default A badge makers son


This may well be the only post I make since I confess my interest in badges is only from the point of view that my father used to make them and in researching his life I came across a reference on this forum to the company he worked for all his life. However, I may be able to help some of you. My father is still alive at the age of 95 and has a good memory.

There is a old post in the "It's a mystery - " section that refers to T.Miles London as a badge maker.

My father was the backbone of this small company and worked for them all his life having grown up with Tommy Miles. They were situated at 108 Old St Clerkenwell.

As far as I know they didn't make the badges from scratch but finished off the blanks. My fathers speciality was saw piercing. They also dabbled in masonic regalia but later the mainstay of the business was clocks. My father made many a clock face, case, hands and other bits. All by hand.

In the '60s - he gave me a suitcase full of military badges that had passed through his workshop. There must have been over 1000. I remember pouring over them but without appreciating that he'd actually made them. A wonderful collection but not fully appreciated by my mother who considered most of what I and my father had as junk, so she gave them away, without even telling us. This was a frequent occurrence.

All I have left is a silver ARP badge. My father told me that many badges, particularly the ARP badges were made of stirling silver before the government realised that this was a costly exercise and not helping the war effort. Many folk did realise the value of the silver and many a badge went "missing in action" so that a new one could be requested. Eventually a cheaper material was used.

Another example of dad's work was when he was in the Army during WWII. He was in the Buffs and during some spare time made a wooden shield with the Buffs Dragon mounted on it and surrounded by small shields with the names painted on of the members of his company. I seem to recall that he made it from the door of an old barracks. It hung on my bedroom wall for many a year until mum decided I didn't want it.

One of his other party tricks was to make broaches from the old half pennies. The ones with the ship on the back. He would cut out the ship, leaving it in the coin and make a broach out of it. I do recall seeing one rare sample that had been enameled.

I haven't come across much other written references to Tommy Miles and my dad Ron Woodbridge but did find an article in a Clock magazine. It may (or may not ) be of interest to you.

If you have any questions that I could put to my dad just post them here.

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Old 11-11-15, 12:51 PM
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Bill A Bill A is offline
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Hello Colin, Welcome to the Forum, and thank-you for your kind offer to help collectors with their research. It will be interesting to see what develops.
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Old 11-11-15, 03:06 PM
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Roy Roy is offline
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Hello Colin,

Thank you for that, some great personal details and lovely to read. I don't have any specific question but wanted to share my own example of a T. Miles badge. It is of course a sterling silver WWII vintage set for the Canadian 8th Recce. I'm not sure if this set of badges came through your fathers hands but wanted to share it. Perhaps in honor and appreciation of your father's work more forum members can share their examples?

Cheers, Roy.
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Old 11-11-15, 03:40 PM
Newalpost Newalpost is offline
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Thanks folks.

Roy, I'll show that one to my father next time I see him. It may bring back memories.

Examples of other work would be most welcome.

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Old 11-11-15, 08:29 PM
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redadmiral redadmiral is offline
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Hello Colin, Fascinating post. Welcome
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Old 11-11-15, 10:21 PM
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Sunray9 Sunray9 is offline
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Hello Colin ... our very best wishes to Dad ... and a glass of something appropriate with him !!

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Old 12-11-15, 10:37 AM
Neibelungen Neibelungen is offline
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I find it fascinating to see and read fairly detailed descriptions of how previous generations of business worked and actually how little the process has changed over time.

As a fellow metalworker and piercer, other than no longer having to make a saw blade up, I use exactly the same method and tools as that article. Indeed, having done work for horologists in restoring clocks, I've reproduced damaged clock hands and corner mounts/inlays in exactly the same way, even down to having templates in envelopes to work from.

Factories, like Toyes, Firmins et al, employed considerable numbers of young women in whole departments dedicated to just piercing work out as well as a considerable proportion of the silver trades in birmingham and sheffield etc.
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Old 13-11-15, 02:10 PM
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Nobbysr Nobbysr is offline
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It is interesting .. I have been looking into the gilding processes both Silver and Gold but there is a couple of processes which dulls the gilt with out removing the Gilt itself . This can commonly be seen on Fusiliers 'badges where the flames have a matt finish with burnished high points .. I would love to document these processes if I could find someone who knows them
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Old 13-11-15, 07:47 PM
Neibelungen Neibelungen is offline
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Fire gilding (mercury/gold amalgam) is naturally dull and a somewhat pale yellow colour. It's burnishing and treating with coloured waxes that gives it it's rich colour and shine. Because it's generally a very high carat and thickness, it can be smoothed down to a high polished shine with a burnisher. either steel or agate.
In plating, it's additives and grain refiners that produce the shine as well as the bright polished or plated underlying metal that assist in giving a bright finish. if the surface is smooth, the plating itself will be smooth and hence reflective.

It's closest analogy would be to laying a tablecloth onto a table with pebbles on it. In electroplating your metal layer is rarely 3 microns and often less than 1 (thousandth of a mm)thick, with perhaps 8-10 microns of bright nickel to smooth out the surfaces.
Fire gilding is often between 10 and and 30 microns thick. It's like laying a duvet down instead of a thin cloth. It evens out the surface and can in effect be 'ironed' smooth.

It disadvantage is it's expense (and danger) because of the amount of gold and the extra work required to both apply and finish and the softness of the gold (electroplate is about 20 to 50 times as hard because of minute alloy elements like cobalt, iron or nickel added). It wears away faster but is much thicker and less prone to absorb atoms from the underlying materials.
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