On Collecting Badges of Mao Zedong¡¯s Portrait
As the most well-known man of a generation, Mao Zedong had accomplished remarkable achievements during his lifetime. As the product of this generation, the badges with Mao¡¯s portrait (simplified as ¡°the badges¡± in the following) have long been the most heating objects scrambled by collectors. They have not only become important in the historical study, but also reached kind of artistic summit, evaluated from quantity, assortment, craftsmanship and quantity. I have collected 20,000 or more badges including more than 3,000 different types, and of 16 kinds of materials these badges are made.
In my opinion, finding a reasonable and scientific way of classification is quite necessary in badge-collection. It surely can help the collector fulfill the job much better, especially when the amount of the badges increases day by day. The way I employ is to classify the badges according to the characters on their backs. At first, sort out the badges on which the characters mean the same thing and put them together. Secondly, put together those on which the characters are at the same part of the badges. Thirdly, put together those on which the characters are of the same form. Then you will find it is easy to distinguish set-badges from thousands of others.
Badges made during the year 1966 to 1976 are called badges of ¡°the Cultural Revolution¡±. No other kinds of badges can be compared with this kind in terms of quantity, assortment and quality. During ¡°the Cultural Revolution¡±, people who were mostly dependent on politics made these badges with the finest craftsmanship chosen from the Centrality to the locality, from military units to factories. People used the best machines and finest raw materials to make the badges; that¡¯s why they can be called as ¡°the super badges in the world¡±. The badges of ¡°the Cultural Revolution¡± initiated some new forms such as the set-badges. This freshness greatly excited badge-collectors.
The badges can be divided into three categories according to their functions. The first category is the badges for wearing; it occupies the largest part and constitutes 95 percent of the total. The second category is the badges for hanging, which were only made during ¡°the Cultural Revolution¡±. At that time, some people thought the bigger the badge is, the more love for Chairman Mao they would show. So the badges they made became too big and heavy to be worn, but can only be hung. Only a few of this kind can be found, they constitute 0.5 percent of the total sum. The third category is the badges for decoration, it has two basic patterns: one refers to the badges that have bases or can stand by themselves; the other refers to those that cannot be laid out without the provision of stands, such as porcelain plates, bricks, etc. Besides the above-mentioned three categories, there is another kind¡ªbusts or full-length statues. These large badges only have simple forms and are
not at all large in amount.
There are four categories of the badges according to their forms. The first category is single-badges. These badges are independent by themselves; each one has its own style and content. This category constitutes 85 percent of the total sum. The second category is pair-badges. The two badges of a pair always have internal relationship with each other. Generally speaking, they have no time order, and this category constitutes only 3 percent of all the badges. The third category is group-badges, which means a group of badges (no less than 3) expressing the same idea. They were made by the same people and had the same characters. They only constitute 2 percent of all the badges. The fourth category is set-badges. We name it this way because they came out as a set in conception, design, manufacturing and publication. There are numbers on each of a set-badge; the numbers are fairly standard, just like those on stamps. For instance, if there is one set-badge including ten indivi
dual badges, the numbers on the
m are 10-1, 10-2 ¡ 10-10, respectively. This category of set-badge constitutes 10 percent of all the badges. I summarize six criteria for judging the set-badges, listed as the following:
A set of badges must be about one special idea, such as badges of ¡°nine revolutionary sample Beijing operas¡±, badges of ¡°Mao Zedong¡¯s poems and verses¡±, badges of ¡°Mao Zedong visiting some sacred places of revolution¡±, and so on.
Set-badges must have 5 common grounds. They are the identical publisher, the identical content of the characters on the back, the identical type and at the same place on the back, and also the identical marks on the back.
Set-badges must have the same style of making. For example, some badges all have the sun behind Mao¡¯s head; some all have protruding secondary pictures at the lower place; or some all have a sentence quoted from Mao¡¯s poems, and so on.
Each badge of the set must be relating to each other by means of supplementing and reciprocal explanation. For example, the set includes 5 badges about ¡°Mao Zedong visiting some sacred places of revolution¡±, they are arranged in a strict chronological order, the five places are Shao-shan Town, Jing-gang-shan Mountain, Zun-yi City, Yan-an City and Tian An Men Buding.
A set must include at least 2 badges.
As for some sets, if they match all the above criteria except the second one, that¡¯s nothing serious. However, a standard set must go with at least three points of the five in the second criterion. In the recent years, I have made a careful arrangement of my collection according to the six items. The collection and arrangement of set-badges have long been emphasized because it means a higher level of badge-collection.
About the materials for making the badges, I am afraid no one can tell exactly how many kinds there are. In the years when the badges were widely spread, people at least have found ten kinds of materials to make the badges. According to my collection, sixteen kinds of materials are used in badge-making. They are: glass, bakelite, stainless steel, lead, zinc, copper, bamboo, porcelain, enamel, hard plastic, soft plastic, luminous powder, chromium, iron sheet, ploxiglass, aluminum, etc. By collecting the badges made of all kinds of materials, I get to know the measures and scale of their manufacturing at that time, and further to have some knowledge about the craftsmanship in different areas of the nation.
The collectors themselves shall decide how to arrange these specially titled badges. In my point of view, there are two ways. One is to collect according to the pictures on the frontages; such as Mao¡¯s waving hands or making inspection or wearing straw-hats or setting off ¡°Go to An-yuan Coalmine¡±. The other is to collect according to the characters on the back, such as those commemorative medals signed with ¡°the Revolutionary Committee¡±. And also badges made by the military commands and factories that produced badges and medals. In short, these specially titled badges have recorded the history of that time from different aspects; they not only enrich the content of collection but also provide evidence for historians.
I have also collected more than 1000 books about Mao Zedong or about Mao’s badges or about ¡°the Cultural Revolution¡±,I finished my manuscript more than 150,000 words for the badge. In 1997 I published the first CD-ROM of China about Mao Zedong’s badges by a company in Beijing.
I’m looking forward to cooperating with you for showing the badge to the world, public saleing the badge, publishing my book or my CD-ROM and so on.
You can contact with the following adress:
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