Radical Objects: CND Badge

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This badge is only small – just 30 millimetres in diameter – but that does not lessen its importance as a social document.

Issued by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) in 1983 as both a fund-raiser and an awareness-raiser, it was sold in London’s Hyde Park on 22 October to those who had taken part in a march held by the organisation on that day.

The march, which started on the Embankment at Charing Cross and ended at a rally in the park, was the largest event CND had ever organised.

The badge shows the famous CND emblem, created out of the semaphore signals for the letters N and D, accompanied by the words ‘Oct. 22. I was there’ and an upraised arm representing a demonstrator eager to be counted. It was part of a campaign that had included stickers and posters released in the months leading up to the march with the message ‘Oct. 22. Where will you be?’

Such was their radical nature that, according to reports, some of the posters that appeared on the underground were removed by London Transport officials who wrongly assumed that they were illegal fly-posters rather than elements of an advertising campaign paid for by the organisers.

This particular badge was presented to the British Museum in November 1983 by the individual who had acquired it in Hyde Park the previous month. It is one of several thousand modern badges in the Museum’s collection, which include some three hundred peace badges from the UK. The earliest of these British peace badges are from the years directly after the foundation of CND in 1958, but the majority date from the 1980s, when CND enjoyed a resurgence as a result of the Conservative government’s pro-nuclear policy, which included the decision to deploy US nuclear weapons in Britain.

The badge was intended to form a record of a personal contribution to a political movement. As part of the collections of the British Museum, it has become a record of a moment in history. The Museum’s badges can be seen by appointment in the Dept of Coins and Medals study room. Contact coins@britishmuseum.org.

Philip Attwood

Keeper of Coins and Medals, British Museum

 

 

2 Responses to “Radical Objects: CND Badge”

  1. Andrew
    April 8, 2011 at 9:34 am #

    When was the CND symbol first devised – and by whom. Anyone know? CND sell replicas of some of their more historic badges (tho not the one featured on this page) – the only political organisation I know that does this.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. #1 Forget throwing pies – for real political activism, get yourself a Pank-a-Squith | Millie Riley - August 4, 2011

    [...] In the long term, Pank-a-Squith is part of the narrative of burgeoning commercial culture of politics and pressure groups which has exploded into the 21st century. Each day, WSPU would sell merchandise in its high street shops, selling a personal political identity to men and women across the country. This personal contribution to a political cause is echoed throughout the 20th century. Just look at the 1970s Ban the Bomb movement with those infamous badges. [...]

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