Sheridans Badges

Photo Galleries | Updated 1 month ago

Image of a sign indicating the entrance to a building.Sheridans Badges sign outside reception door
WA Museum
Image of a sign attached to a fence post.Sheridans Badges sign at entrance
WA Museum
Image of the entrance to a buildingSheridans Badges front entrance
WA Museum
Image of four people, three standing and one seated at a laptop working.R to L: Isabel Smith (WA Museum assistant curator, History), WA Museum history curator Stephen Anstey, Chas Sheridan of Sheridans Badges, and Emily Walsh (front, Registration Officer).
WA Museum
Image of three people inspecting a box containing clear plastic bagsR to L: Isabel Smith (WA Museum assistant curator, History), WA Museum history curator Stephen Anstey, Chas Sheridan of Sheridans Badges.
WA Museum
Image of three people standing in front of shelving filled with badge dies.R to L: Isabel Smith (WA Museum assistant curator, History), WA Museum history curator Stephen Anstey, Chas Sheridan of Sheridans Badges.
WA Museum
Chas Sheridan (kneeling), Isabel Smith and Emily Walsh inspecting the badge collection.
WA Museum
Image of two people inspecting shelves filled with badge dies.Chas Sheridan and Isabel Smith inspecting the badge collection.
WA Museum
Image of a person going through a box filled with badges in clear plastic bags. Isabel Smith, WA Museum assistant curator (History) going through a box of registered badges that will enter the History collection.
WA Museum
Image of a person going through a box filled with badges in clear plastic bags. Isabel Smith, WA Museum assistant curator (History) going through a box of registered badges that will enter the History collection.
WA Museum
Image of a person's hands going through a box filled with badges in clear plastic bags. Isabel Smith, WA Museum assistant curator (History) going through a box of registered badges that will enter the History collection.
WA Museum
Image of shelves and drawers filled with bags of badges and badge dies. Shelves of badges and dies at Sheridans Badges
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Image of shelves filled with badge dies.Close up of dies at Sheridans Badges.
WA Museum
Image of shelves filled with badge dies.Close up of dies at Sheridans Badges.
WA Museum
Image of shelves filled with badge dies with a stepladder placed in front.Shelves of dies at Sheridans Badges.
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Image of a barrel labelled 'Poison'. Barrel of chemicals used in the production of badges.
WA Museum
Image of machinery of various colours.Machinery used to produce badges in the Sheridan factory.
WA Museum
Image of metal off-cuts Off-cuts from badge making at Sheridans Badges.
WA Museum
Image of a large blue machineMachinery used to produce badges in the Sheridan factory.
WA Museum
Image of a tray of tools, including a spanner, brush and cloth.Tools used in the production of badges at Sheridans Badges.
WA Museum
Image of a tray of tools and two badges.Tools used in the production of badges at Sheridans Badges.
WA Museum
Image of a tray of tools and two badges.Tools used in the production of badges at Sheridans Badges, as well as two newly made badges.
WA Museum
Image of tools hanging in a factory.Tools used in the production of badges at Sheridans Badges.
WA Museum
Image of a large machine.Close-up of machinery used to produce badges in the Sheridan factory.
WA Museum
Image of tools hanging on the wall in a factory.Tools used in the production of badges at Sheridans Badges.
WA Museum
Image of a large machine.Close-up of machinery used to produce badges in the Sheridan factory.
WA Museum
Image of two badges sitting on a table with off-cuts visible on the floor.Two newly made badges with off-cuts visible on the floor below.
WA Museum
Image of four large waste barrels.Waste barrels by machinery at Sheridans Badges.
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Image of a factory.Image of Sheridans Badges factory floor.
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Image of shelves filled with labelled boxes.Boxes of badges at Sheridans Badges.
WA Museum
Image of a large round die. Close-up of a die.
WA Museum
Image of shelves filled with dies and covered in spiderwebs. Shelves of dies at Sheridans Badges.
WA Museum
Image of a die.Close-up of a die.
WA Museum
Image of a small box sitting on top of badge dies.Close-up of dies at Sheridans Badges.
WA Museum
Image of badge dies sitting on a table.Close-up of dies at Sheridans Badges.
WA Museum
Image of a badge die depicting Western Australia.Close-up of die at Sheridans Badges.
WA Museum
Image of boxes on shelves filled with badges. Boxes of badges at Sheridans Badges.
WA Museum
Image of a labelled plastic bag containing a badge.Registered badge ready to be added to the WA Museum History Collection.
WA Museum
Image of a plastic bag containing a badge.Registered badge ready to be added to the WA Museum History Collection.
WA Museum
Image of freshly painted badges laid out on a drying rack. Freshly coloured badges laid out on a customised drying rack.
WA Museum
Image of freshly painted badges laid out on a drying rack. Freshly coloured badges laid out on a customised drying rack.
WA Museum
Image of freshly painted badges laid out on a drying rack. Freshly coloured badges laid out on a customised drying rack.
WA Museum
Image of a table covered in paints, syringes, cloths and other tools used for colouring badges. Tools and colours used to colour badges made at Sheridans Badges.
WA Museum
Image of a table covered in paints, syringes, cloths and other tools used for colouring badges. Tools and colours used to colour badges made at Sheridans Badges.
WA Museum
Image of syringes filled with colour ready to colour badges.Syringes used to hand colour badges at Sheridans Badges.
WA Museum
Image of a pair of pliers sitting on a table.A pair of pliers used in the colouring process at Sheridans Badges.
WA Museum
Image of a sign hanging on a wall. A sign on the wall of the colouring area at Sheridans Badges.
WA Museum

The WA Museum works with Sheridans Badges

In July this year, the Western Australian Museum’s History Department began work with one of Western Australia’s longest running family businesses, Sheridans Badges, to acquire some of their historical items for the collection. Sheridan’s have generously donated several hundred items. The acquisition process will take several months, as Museum staff research, describe, measure, photograph, and pack each object individually.

The acquired objects include Second World War dies and badges, local sporting club pins, school badges, old government insignia, tools, and even badges for small groups such as dog clubs and bygone nightclubs. Some dies and badges, such as those produced for the Australian Army and the US Navy during the Second World War are reflective of key events in Western Australia’s history.  Each tells the story and craft of Sheridan’s Badges, as well as the story of Western Australia’s diverse community groups, ranging from small volunteer-run organisations right through to major government departments.

History

Sheridan’s Badges have created hundreds of local association, club and military badges in Western Australia over the last 100 years. It all began when Charles Sheridan left his home in Victoria in 1901, following the closure of his family’s business and the passing of his father.

In search of a new life in Perth, Charles began labouring as a fence painter in the early 1900s, but soon decided he wanted to work for himself. He began importing and indenting, aiming to sell goods that were not readily available in Perth. Small parts for tailors and milliners such as cummerbunds, dickeys and hat vents, were his specialty. . Charles also imported stiff celluloid collars, which were popular in Europe at the time. Celluloid was the go to material of the era, as metal was too expensive.

In 1913, he set up a workshop behind his Florence Street residence in West Perth. Friend Ernest Austin, who Charles had assisted with a debt, provided labour to pay back his loan. Embracing the cheap production of celluloid buttons, the business grew steadily, finding popularity with clubs and associations for membership badges The government also requested items such as dog tags and travel tokens. Charles next advertised for a die and toolmaker from Great Britain. The position was filled by Frank Rogers, who migrated to Perth with his family.

With a large contract in World War One from the Department of War to supply military hat badges, Charles reconsidered the importing side of the business and focused on manufacturing. By the 1920s the company was the largest badge maker and engraver in Western Australia.

Frank Rogers left suddenly in the 1930s and was replaced with his enthusiastic apprentice, Ray Hibben. Ray developed his skills until he was named Production Manager. Though he soon enlisted for World War Two, Charles dragged Ray from the railway platform, explaining that he was essential to the company.

In 1941, Sheridan’s saw the end of an era when Charles Sheridan died and passed the company to his son Charles II, who had been working in the factory since he was boy.

Although the Great Depression had slowed the company’s profits considerably, the business had picked up again during World War Two when the United States Navy docked in Fremantle without stores. Tailors and badge makers were commandeered to produce officer uniforms, which had gold or silver buttons and badges. With restricted imports and the company’s reputation and expertise, Sheridan’s was an easy choice for manufactured goods.

In 1981 Ray Hibben died suddenly, and as the only die maker and engraver this sent the company into disarray. Charles II’s three sons stepped up and each mastered a section of the company. When Charles II died in 1982 the three Sheridan brothers decided on a strategy for the future of the company, which is now down sizing. Unfortunately manufacturing in Australia in the twenty first century is not a level playing field with competition from Asia, but Sheridan’s Badges are still producing badges today.

The Process

  • Dies are formed using steel, which is softened and carved to create the mould of a badge. In the early days they were carved by hand and small letter punches were used to imprint any wording.
  • The die is then hardened and tempered before it is ready for use.
  • Hand operated fly presses or drop hammers press the die into the metal to form a badge. After World War One a large embossing press was purchased, which could apply an 80 ton pressure per square inch of metal. This machine increased productivity and the range of products available.
  • Until the 1970s, water was added to powdered glass and applied to the badges to colour the surface. The badges were then fired over a gas flame to melt the glass, excess glass was rubbed off, and the badges were fired again. Finally a fitting was soldered on the back and the badge was electroplated.
  • In the 1970s, resins replaced glass enamel to colour the badges and the fittings could be attached by machinery. In the late 80s, Sheridan’s became computerised, employing digital technology alongside engraving and die making.