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Royal Australian Navy sweetheart brooch

Date: c 1939
Overall: 50 x 35 mm
Medium: Metal, enamel
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Brooch
Object No: 00044564

User Terms

    This sweetheart brooch features a naval crown mounted on an anchor, with the text RAN in red, white and blue enamel. It was manufactured and purchased for a Royal Australian Navy servicmen's loved one during World War II. Giving sweetheart brooches was originally a British tradition that was adopted by Australian troops serving overseas. Some pieces were hand made by servicemen while others were purchased from businesses manufacturing and selling badges as love tokens. Many unmarried soldiers sent badges to their mothers and sisters in the place of a sweetheart.

    SignificanceThis brooch illustrates the impact of separation on families and loved ones during war. Brooches such as this provided servicemen with a tangible link to their family at home. For those who received them they served as a reminder of their loved one away at 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, often making the pieces from military badges, buttons or scraps of metal from damaged aircraft. Other soldiers commissioned jewellers or metal working businesses to create tokens.

    The business Stokes of Melbourne was established in Australia during the 1870s and specialised in die sinking, casting medallions and tokens. During the war years Stokes was busy in the production of medals, medallions and tokens, including badges such as this.

    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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