"" Writer's Wanderings: The Stinkin' Badge

Monday, April 09, 2012

The Stinkin' Badge

Out in Arizona as we visited the Goldfield Ghost Town and toured the Bordello, I snapped a picture of a display of badges. Okay, I should have known better. They weren't historical. I discovered that when I examined the picture further and found one that was engraved with the label "Stinkin Badge." Still, not wanting to rule out some obscure bit of history, I set about searching the history of badges to see if perhaps there was one labeled that way.

Law enforcement badges apparently stem from the days of knights and heraldry. There have been all sorts of badges designed to designate law enforcement and other public service jobs like firemen as well. Much of the design is dependent upon the area where it will be used and a little bit of history is usually integrated into the design. Often a badge is called a shield--again stemming from those heraldic roots.

The ever popular and recognizable star shaped badge of the Wild West sheriff was said to be designed by Hollywood to designate which character was the good guy--aside from the white hat. But I also found information supporting the notion that it was originally designed by the Texas Rangers and fashioned to identify with their state nickname and emblem: The Lone Star State.

Well, I could have chased lots of bunny trails, bought tons of replicas and badges said to be authentic but I gave up in light of the fact I do have an obligation to get some writing done for my contracted novel. The Stinkin' Badge? It was a reference to the movie from 1930 starring Humphrey Bogart who gets yelled at by a Mexican Bandito. Supposedly the line is "We don't need no stinkin' badges!" But even that is disputed by several sites I visited. Maybe it got lost in translation?

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