Multi Color History

 The 1973 – 1990 period is the most challenging period for collectors to collect. During this period National Supply used numerous embroiderers leading to many variations of each title. The following variables create the large quantity of variations:
  • Six different backs
  • Three different border types
  • Three different border lockstitch types
  • Four different twill textures
  • Cloth color variations
 Because of the above variables there are over 200 identifiable issue variations of patrol medallions in this period. The collecting community choose the back as the logical way to sort the numerous variations into groups because the back type correlates to embroidery companies.

 

Series 6A: Round Colored Twill – Blue Waffle Plastic Back (1973 - 1978)

In 1972 embroiders changed their process and introduced plastic backing onto badges. The plastic was added to the back to counteract the losses embroiders were incurring due to transport, storage, and handling between the embroidery process and the merrowing process as well as handling during the merrowing process. The introduction of the plastic reinforced back lowered loss and increased speed. To make the plastic easy for the worker to see, embroiders started with plastic with a bluish tint. The application of the plastic is what gives it a distinct waffle pattern. Patrol medallions were embroidered multiple badges per cloth square. Then the cloth square was place upside down in a heat press, figure A. The a square of blue polyethylene plastic was placed over the back of the badges. Next a sheet of silicon reinforced cloth was place on top of the plastic. Then the heat press was closed and the badge and plastic heated to 350 degrees for 60 seconds. The pattern in the reinforced silicon coated cloth is what caused the waffle pattern. Figure B shows a close up of the Silicon reinforced cloth. After the plastic was applied the badges were cut out. Waffle plastic back patrol medallions are found with and without gauze reinforcing under the plastic.

Series 6B: Round Colored Twill – Clear Waffle Plastic Back (1973 - 1978)

 After workers became comfortable working with the blue plastic material described in Series 6A, embroiders found the clear polyethylene plastic was less expensive and they switched from blue tint to clear. The waffle pattern in the clear is the result of the same process being used for blue and clear. Waffle plastic back patrol medallions are found with and without gauze reinforcing under the plastic.

 

 

Series 6C: Round Colored Twill – Wax Coated Back (1976)

 An embroider National Supply used during 1976 coated the backs of their cloth with a thin wax after the emblems were embroidered and before the emblems were cut out. The wax counteracted the losses embroiders were incurring due to transport, storage, and handling between the embroidery process and the merrowing process as well as handling during the merrowing process. Wax back patrol medallions are found with and without gauze reinforcing under the wax.

  

Series 6D: Round Colored Twill – Pellon Back (1977 - 1980)

 An embroider National Supply used in the late 1970s applied white pellon fusible interfacing to the back of the cloth after the emblems were embroidered and before the emblems were cut out. Like the plastic backing and wax back methods the pellon was a way to counteract the losses embroiders were incurring due to transport, storage, and handling between the embroidery process and the merrowing process as well as handling during the merrowing process. Pellon back patrol medallions are found with and without gauze reinforcing under the pellon.

  

Series 6E: Round Colored Twill – Gauze Reinforced Starched Back (1980 - 1985)

 In the early 1980s an embroider applied a gauze to be back of the cloth prior to the embroidery process. After the emblems were embroidered a heavy starch was applied to the back of the emblems before the emblems were cut out. This combination of gauze reinforcing and heavy starch counteracted the losses embroiders were incurring due to transport, storage, and handling between the embroidery process and the merrowing process as well as handling during the merrowing process.
  

Series 6F: Round Colored Twill – Molded Plastic Back (1978 - 1989)

     In the late 1980s an embroider using the plastic back method described in Series 6A introduced a change in the process to reduce the amount of work steps the embroidery machine worker did. Using the heat press cause the worked to have to play close attention to the alarm after 60 seconds and unclamp the machine and remove the badges and perform the process over again. The change was the introduction of a mini oven with a conveyor, figure A. The worker simply turned the square of badges upside down placed a sheet of plastic over the back put the on the conveyor and waited for the cloth square to drop onto a table. This meant the worked did not have to monitor the machine as when using the heat press method. This new conveyor oven process gave the back a new look. The plastic melts and conforms to the embroidery giving it a molded look and feel.
 Molded plastic back patrol medallions are found with and without gauze reinforcing under the molded plastic. During interviews with a embroiders it became apparent that the application of gauze was not consistent. Based on information from embroiders all the molded plastic backs are in one group. The collector will find several border and lockstitch variations in the group. The border and lockstitch variations are mainly due to merrowing machine replacements and upgrades at the embroider. It was common for an embroider to have several merrowing machines  and it was common they were different models and age.