‘W.M. Hughes’ Badge #2011-0260
Circular tin plate lapel badge depicting Prime Minister Billy Hughes flanked by the British and Australian flags and surmounted by a wreath. In blue text at bottom ‘W.M. HUGHES’. A sprung cuprous pin without catch on reverse.
The Hussey badge collection, of which this badge is part, reflects the wide variety of issues that citizens from the small Victorian town of Healesville were engaged with in the period from 1914 to about 1927. William M. Hughes is represented in three badges in the collection, reflecting his status as the dominant political figure of wartime Australia. Both ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ badges are included, stemming from the 1917 referendum on conscription.
Many of the badges in the collection reflect local community concerns in an era where services such as hospitals and orphanages depended very largely on local support. Other badges in the collection are associated with fund raising to provide comforts for soldiers and sailors, at a time when government support largely stopped at the provision of bare military necessities, and communities united in the provision of food, clothing and welfare services, whatever their views on conscription. Several record the end of the war, such as ‘Children’s Flower Day 1919 / Peace Year.’ Patriotic badges often emphasise the ‘Austral British’ sense of the era, examples include a badge inscribed ‘King George’s Day,’ and another with the face of Field Marshal Lord Kitchener surrounded by laurel leaves. Others badges in the collection reflect a growing sense of national identity. A badge inscribed ‘For Our Own,’ and depicting a spray of wattle, is one of many badges that used wattle as a national symbol, a practice which had begun in the early years of the Commonwealth.