These pages are brought to you courtesy of Kevin Doyle and Don Shull who figured somebody besides themselves might be interested in the patrol medallion patches issued by over the years by the Boy Scouts of America.
The Boy Scouts of America's use of the patrol method follows the patrol system introduced by Scouting's founder Baden-Powell. The orgamization of boys into patrols led to the need to identify the patrols. Though the patrols more often than not took the names of animals, the first identifier used were patrol ribbons. Each patrol was identified by a set of colored ribbons that were assigned to the name of the patrol. The original British ribbons were strands of yarn and later, cloth ribbons. These ribbons later gave way to first sllkscreened patches (or badges) and later, embroidered emblems.
The formation of patrols lead to the need to identify patrol members. The orginal BSA handbook, published in June 1911, provided patrol symbols, colors and calls on page 20 and page 21. These color assignments were later incorporated into patrol ribbons that the boys could make themselves or order from National Supply. The BSA used patrol ribbons for at least its first sixteen years. From 1911-1916 they were 5 1/2" long. From 1917 to 1925 they were 5" and 4 1/2" from 1926-1927. While the first medallions were introduced in 1926, the ribbons were still authorized as late as 1929 when the first Patrol Leaders Handbook was published. The 1929 Patrol Leader handbook noted that a patrol could choose either patrol ribbons or medallions and boys could either make them themselves or order them from National Supply.
BSA ribbons differed from other countries by the use of a metal strip with prongs that could be pushed into the uniform sleeve and folded over. In 1926, BSA introduced patrol medallions after James West saw a troop use them and thought they'd be less confusing than keeping track of colored ribbons. The first ones issued were black screen printing on red felt squares. The black screening though would eventually wear off. In 1927 the square silk-screened medallions were replaced by round red felt medallions embroidered with black silk thread. The first embroidered medallions available were identified in this advertisement from the back of the 1929 Patrol Leaders handbook. This first series, used until 1933, did not have any lettering on them. In 1934, the felt medallions had "B.S.A." embroidered on them along with the design. The embroidered "B.S.A." was dropped with the introduction of the multiple color series introduced in 1973.
Thanks. Several collectors have assisted us with information and scans. The assistance of Bill Topkis, Mitch Reis, Chris Jensen, Tim Klaben, Roy Wetherbee, George Cuhaj, Andy Dubill, Brian Taggerty and others is gratefully acknowledged. Of special note is the contribution of the Las Vegas International Scouting Museum, where Jim Ellis provided us with scans of a half dozen of the 02 square felts and a couple dozen of the 03 issues we needed, nearly completing that section for us. And special thanks to Rob Kutz, who after this site was announced, took the time to crawl over the entire site and send us a hit list of typos and broken links we should have caught. Thanks, guys.