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Royal Australian Navy sweetheart brooch

Date: 1914
Overall: 20 x 45 mm
Medium: Metal, enamel
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Brooch
Object No: 00044562

User Terms

    This sweetheart brooch features a naval crown and the text RAN in red, white and blue enamel. It was manufactured as a token for a sailor's loved one. The practice of giving brooches to wives, sweethearts, mothers and sisters started with servicemen in World War I and continued in World War II. Metal-working businesses and servicemen would fashion brooches from medals, badges, coins, scrap metal and precious materials.
    SignificanceThis brooch illustrates the impact of separation on families and loved ones during World War I. It provided a serviceman with a tangible link to their family at home. For the person who received this badge it served as a reminder of their loved one fighting in the war.
    HistoryInitially a British tradition, the act of giving a sweetheart brooch to a loved one was adopted by Australian troops serving overseas in World War I. Using their creativity some servicemen crafted brooches from the scarce materials available using pieces from military badges, buttons or scraps of metal from damaged aircraft. Other soldiers commissioned jewellers or metal-working businesses to create their sweetheart's token.

    Due to the distance from their home and the young age of many troops, the unmarried soldiers often sent brooches to their mothers and sisters, instead of a sweetheart. Although sweetheart brooches were less popular with Australian servicemen than their British and American counterparts, many Australian wives, sweethearts, mothers and sisters received them from members of the Royal Australian Navy during World War I and II.

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