A Late Victorian Mystery Badge/Check - What is it?

Can anyone tell me anything about the following brass embossed check. It is uniface and has no number stamped on either its obverse or reverse sides. It measures 24 mm wide by 35 mm tall. It is presumably late Victorian in date and has the odd legend "ORGANISE" plus the date "1895" on its obverse side. The suspension whole is strangely located at the bottom of the check and not at the top as would be normally expected.

Could this check or badge possibly have been issued for a miner's strike or just after as a commemorative perhaps or something similar? Any answers or further information about the above item would be greatly appreciated.

Submitted By : Peter Harrison.
Date: March 2005.


This item is almost definitely an un-issued union membership badge of the Cardiff, Penarth & Barry Coal Trimmers Union (C,P,&BCTU) of South Wales. Coal trimmers were the men employed at most large Victorian and Edwardian ports to load (hand fill) coal into the empty bunkers of the steam ships while they were in dock. This particular union is recorded as operating from 1888 to 1968.
The badge illustrated is very typical of the C,P,&BCTU's other known quarterly issued membership badges. Once issued they were stamped with the trimmers personal union membership number. These checks/badges were often issued without them carrying the name of the C,P,&BCTU on them. Many of them are completely un-identifiable based on the information embossed on their obverse sides, as in this example. Many such checks/badges have only recently been fully attributed to having been issued by this union. This has only been possible since the discovery in 2004 of a large near consecutive run of such badges which turned up all bearing the same identification number (i.e. they had all once belonged as a set issued to the same man). The union's badges were usually embossed with the date of the year plus the quarterly start month (i.e. January, April, July or October). Like the various UK miners' association checks/badges of the same period the C,P,&BCTU badges were worn by the coal trimmers as an indication and proof of their current union membership. Many of these particular badges were issued on ornate shaped flans and carried fraternal or topical slogans such as PEACE (in 1902 after the end of the Boer War), WORKERS COMPENSATION SCHEME (in 1899, after the passing of the first Workers' Compensation Scheme Act), "ORGANISE" (in both 1895 and 1905 respectively), "ALL TOGETHER" (in April 1897) plus several others.

It is interesting to note that all of the C,P,&BCTU membership checks/badges have single suspension wholes for attachment (presumably to a fob chain?) as apposed to the more usual small sew-on piercings common on miners' association checks/badges of the same period. At least one enamelled membership badge of the C,P,&BCTU is known.

The check illustrated is identical in design to a similar one issued by the C,P,&BCTU in January of 1905.

Submitted By : Mark Smith & Emyr George.
Date: March 2005.




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