Badge related news and articles

Thursday 10th March 2011

Blakes 7 and that series of 65mm badges

Mark Oliver is seeking to complete his set of original 1970s Blakes 7 badges and to discover more about their original issue. These two missions are central to what we like to do at the BCC, namely help collectors secure badges and provide provenance for their original issue.

Launched after the success of Star Wars, Blake's 7 challenged viewer expectations with its cynical characters, who were eventually massacred in a shoot-out. Blake is a political dissident who escapes deportation to a remote planet by forming a gang of reluctant rebels who include a smuggler and a thief. It ran from 1978 to 1981 and acquired something of a cult status among science fiction enthusiasts.

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The Blakes 7 series of badges are from the 1978-9 period and are the large 65mm badges that were printed directly onto the tin-sometimes referred to as lithographs. They were either made in the UK by a company called 'Anterior' or possibly imported from the far east? At the time badges made in this style and with these fittings were being sold on street corners in London for 40 pence each or 3 for £1. The vast majority were of rock groups -many of which were the new wave of punk rockers. It was that mad time when badges seemed to be coming out of everywhere-largely inspired by the punk fashion .

As well as badges featuring groups and singers there were many that were of the philosophical-humour type and some of film and television icons. It was thought possible that the Blakes 7 series were just a part of this group and were 'bootlegged' - However Mark's persistence has tracked down official BBC archives. " The BBC files have helped resolve the situation! The BBC issued a license to 'Communication Vectors' to sell the badges in February 1978. The paperwork is incomplete, so there is still some doubt as to exactly how many different badges were produced and what variants there were. The BBC paperwork was all over the place and there was nothing in the contract requiring them to add copyrights. The only thing was that across the board the BBC were very careful to insist that with every license Terry Nations signature was added to the B7 logo.

The seven badges illustrated below indicate that characters were issued with and/or without their name applied-for example 'Jenna' can be found as shown.

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The single example shown above is not part of the series-This really does appear to be a 'bootleg' It is also 65mm and also from the 1978-80 period but this one is a more traditional button badge with an acetate covering as opposed to the 'litho' type

Added March 2012--Mark has discovered the complete set shown below-a total of 14 badges. Mark's excellent book is available soon on

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About the author

Frank Setchfield is the author of The Official Badge Collectors Guide from the 1890s to the 1980s and has written countless articles on badges for various publications.

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