RACV badges

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The Automobile Club of Victoria was formed in Melbourne in December 1903 following the initiative of Harry James, manager of Dunlop Pneumatic Tyre Company, and two friends Syd Day and James Coleman. A meeting of 55 inaugural members took place on 9th December at which the objectives of the club were approved. By 1909 the club had become affiliated with the Royal Automobile Club, London, as an Associate Club, and the first car badges based on the RAC Associate design were made available to members. These were a double sided badge bearing the inscription "The Automobile Club of Victoria" on one side and "Royal Automobile Club Associate" on the other. The badges were made by Stokes & Sons of Melbourne. Badge No.457 is illustrated here. "World of Car Badges" Type 1.

    

The double sided car badge introduced in 1909 was to continue in use until about 1950. During this long period the central emblem depicting a car is found in four versions. In 1916 the club was granted Royal Patronage and became the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria and the design of car badges was altered accordingly. The original veteran car depicted on badge No.457 remained in use for several years until the design was altered sometime around 1916 or '17. The badge below, No.2177, is an example of the first style of "Royal" badge. In both cases the enamelled centres were flat and were made by Stokes & Sons of Melbourne. "World of Car Badges" Type 2.    

      

 Badge No.3038 below illustrates the second style of emblem with a slightly altered veteran car. For the first time the legend "Property of the RACV" appeared on the base. The enamels on this badge are flat and was made by Angus & Coote of Sydney.  By 1923 club membership had reached about 4000 and although badge numbers are not related to membership numbers, they give some idea of the approximate dates of issue. In 1926 the club introduced a service member category with no entrance fee and a modest annual subscription. This resulted in a rapid increase in membership and it suggests that badge numbers over about 8-10,000 were issued after that time.

      

Although the design of the central emblem changed again in the early 1920s, the design in badge No.3038 reappeared during the late 1920s or early '30s on some badges with a dashboard mount rather than the usual radiator cap bolt fitting. These were made by Angus and Coote and the emblems were convex rather than flat. Badge No.20050 is shown below.

  

A third version of the central emblem appeared in the late 1920s or early 1930s depicting a veteran car without a driver. The central emblems were convex rather than flat and the example below is badge No.15353, again by Stokes & Sons.

       

The last version of the central emblem appeared in the 1930s and depicted a much more modern vintage car. Two examples are shown, No.32067 with a conventional bold fitting (left) and No.31377 with a dashboard fitting (right). Both these badges probably date from the mid 1930s and were made by Stokes & Sons.

            

In 1950 the RACV ceased issuing the elaborate double sided enamelled badges and introduced the lozenge shape then used by the RAC in the UK. The first badges bore the Kings' crown and were un-numbered (Type 6a). A Queens' crown version replaced this in about 1955 (Type 6b). Both these types were of two piece construction, with an anodised aluminium backing plate behind a stamped, fretted chrome front. The Queens' crown version was in turn replaced by a solid metal version in the 1960s (Type 6c) and finally a plastic badge was introduced about 1970 (Type 7).

 

 

Rare original packaging for a 1950s Type 6a badge. (A kind gift from Lawrie Bradly).

 

 

 

 

Although not a car badge, this double sided Kings' crown 1960-61 membership award makes a fine display.

 

 

 

 

In 1978 the RACV celebrated 75 years and produced a small (55mm) badge to commemorate the event. These were available to entrants in a veteran and vintage commemorative car rally held to celebrate the 75th anniversary.                             

                                                  

 

For the club's 80th anniversary in 1983 a replica of the early double sided badge was produced as a desk emblem and sold to members for $50. All badges bore the number 4580. Two versions are shown here - the official one with the Australian Red Ensign and an unofficial one with a Blue Ensign.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The year 2003 was celebrated as the RACV's centenary and a commemorative car badge was issued to mark the event. These badges were numbered and the one illustrated is #76.

 

 

 

 

This badge is considered by many collectors to be a car badge but is in fact a replica of early RACV car badges, and is used for promotional purposes. It is not and was never intended to be, a car badge. It is designed to be attached to wooden plaques accompanied by an engraved metal label. It is given either to individuals or car clubs in appreciation of their support of RACV events, or provided to car clubs for them to present to their own supporters.

 

Text and photographs on this page are copyright.

More information on the history of badges of the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria (RACV) may be found at www.racv.com.au/wps/wcm/connect/racv/Internet/Primary/about+RACV/RACV+history/badge/

 

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