Plymouth City Council Arts and Heritage commissioned Orbis to conserve a beautiful collection of 288 maritime badges for display at The Box, opening in Spring 2020, home to the Figureheads we have also been working on. The whole collection will be shown in an 8 metre high wall display and will be one of the largest collections of ship badges in the world.

Every single ship or unit of Her Majesty’s Royal Navy Fleet has its own crest or heraldic design used to distinguish it from others. These plaques or crests, more formally known as ship badges, are usually mounted onto a wooden backing shield and were offered as gifts when a ship visited a new port or hosted dignitaries. Ship badges came in a variety of shapes and sizes including diamond, pentagon, circular and traditional shields. As the construction of Figureheads declined with the military sailing ship, after WW1, it was more and more common for ships to carry these badges instead.

Each badge has a unique name, are composed of mainly plaster and metal on a wooden backing and all are decorated with a gold border and detail. After a thorough clean of the whole collection, some needed toning, we restored some of the painting, and we attached a metal split batten so they can be mounted safely on the walls of The Box.

Conserving a collection of Maritime Badges, Figureheads