AA Car Badges – A Complete Guide

AA Car Badges – A Complete Guide

AA Badges

In June 1905, the British Automobile Association (AA) was created in London’s “Trocadero” restaurant. According to well-respected sources, one of the initial reasons for the creation of this club was to protect members from “speed traps,” along with education about driving laws, provision of maps and a meeting place where auto enthusiasts could talk about cars.

The AA has provided many services to its members over the years – including driving instruction, breakdown assistance, and publications, like maps and the “AA Member’s Special Handbook”. For many years, the official headquarters for the AA was Basingstoke, United Kingdom.The AA continually grew over the years, adding more services as the automobile industry expanded. By 1914, there were more than 80,000 members in the AA. By 1939, nearly 35% of all UK drivers were members of the AA. As of 2008, there were an estimated 12 million members of the club.

Every member of the Automobile Association received a car badge that could be attached to their vehicles radiator grill using screws. There are rumours that at the time Police officers often gave preferential treatment to motorists with AA badges displayed prominently on their cars. Over time, these AA car badges have become collector’s items: Automobilia.

The AA Car Badges Numbering System

The first 100 badges were issued in April 1906; these early badges can be easily traced, but later badges are more difficult to track. Initially, badges were made of brass, and over time this metal was replaced with nickel, and then white-metal chrome.

The first secretary of the AA was Stenson Cooke. Early versions of the AA badge had the word, “secretary” written on the front, with the reverse including a phone number. The round AA badge, was referred to as the Stenson Cooke badge or Frying Pan design after it was issued in 1906.

There are a variety of different badge styles – the most common being the square, oval and two-piece intertwined “AA” letters on a metal front plate with a separate yellow background plate (shaped like the outline of a light bulb).

The AA numbering system is based on an assigned “issuing number.” Early versions of this issuing number that have fewer than five digits were listed on the leg of the badge. When numbers grew larger to six digits, the number was moved to the top of the circle. Some have been confused about the serial number listed on the badges, believing that these were membership numbers; but, they are actually specially-assigned issuing numbers.

Common AA Badge Styles

The 1906 to 1911 badge style was the first series with a simplified “AA” pattern. It had a shorter leg than later versions. From 1907 to 1967, there were square badges with a yellow background made; in 1967 this square was replaced with a round design.

AA badges dates

The most common AA badge was derived from the combination of the original “AA” for the Automobile Association lettering with the “M” from the Motor Union after the two organisations merged in 1911. They combined the letters creating an intertwined “AA” lettering that resembled an “M” from a distance. This pattern ran from 1911 to 1945.

The “AA” design, size, type and metal changed after 1925 when only nickel or chrome was used instead of brass. There were only 10,000 copies of the winged long shank version, which was started in 1930. After 1945, the style changed with a more oval shape and the addition of a convex bulge replacing the flat surface. Different styles have different locations for the holes for screwing the badges onto the cars: one on either side, two at the bottom or in all four places.

There are a couple of supplementary types of badges that include the 1914 to 1920, pentagon-shaped, light-car badge for two or three seaters with only 11.9 horsepower. The other rare variety is a Commercial Vehicle Section brass badge that was manufactured from 1911 to 1930 with a red background in a basket-weave design; after 1930 it was chrome. There are also smaller badges made for motorcycle enthusiasts that had a heart-shaped token on them during World War I.

Badges from the British Empire (South Africa, New Zealand, and Zambia) are very rare.

A pennant on top of the badge’s circle signified that the owner was a member of the Automobile Association Committee. Since these AA badges officially belonged to the membership club, they were supposed to be returned when membership ended. An “R” stamp below the serial number means that the badge was returned and reissued.

The text on later AA car badges includes the following:

“Property of the {local club location} This badge must be returned when membership ceases”.

Here is a list of the most common AA badges in collections:

  • The original brass “AA” lettering
  • The chrome-plated metal “AA” lettering crossed, two pieces with metal front piece and yellow back
  • piece can be inserted behind lettering, winged insignia on top,
  • AA Car Essentials, magnetic GB plate badge for rear of vehicle, black lettering with white background,
  • Square piece with “AA” in black lettering has yellow background
  • Oval-shaped “GB” car badge in black lettering, gray background
  • White silver “AA” letters crossed, winged insignia on top, grayish background
  • Hexagon-shaped insignia, “AA” is enclosed in what looks like a necklace with an open clasp in front,
  • basket weave background, two holes on either side and at bottom (rare)
  • AA Relay with arrows, black lettering and yellow background
  • British Empire pieces (rare)

Decoding The AA Badge Serial Number

AA Car Badge Numbering System:

  • 1 to 999,999 = issuing date between 1906 and 1930
  • A – P suffix = issuing date between 1930 and 1945
  • RST suffix = issuing date between 1946 and 1956 [flat motorcycle badges]
  • WXYZA suffix = issuing date between 1956 and 1967 [domed motorcycle badges]
  • 0A to 0Z prefix = issuing date between 1945 and 1957
  • 1A to 9A prefix = issuing date between 1957 and 1959
  • 1B to 9B prefix = issuing date between 1960 and 1961
  • 1C to 9C prefix = issuing date between 1962 and 1963
  • 1D to 9D prefix = issuing date between 1964 and 1965
  • 1E to 9E prefix = issuing date between 1966 and 1967

Pricing AA Badges

AA car badges can be purchased at markets selling automobile collections. Web sites also sell these AA car badges. Try to verify the authenticity of the piece by comparing its issuing number to style for that period.

Finding car badges in the original packaging adds value to a piece. Some of the most attractive AA car badges are the chrome-plated metal badges in pristine shape that shimmer in the light. Accessories include fixing bolts and crossed box keys.

The prices for AA car badges range from a couple UK pounds to hundreds of UK pounds.

Issues that affect an AA car badge price include the following:

  • Condition (Unopened, new and unused are more valuable)
  • Age
  • Rarity
  • Style

The rich history of the Automobile Association makes AA car badges an interesting collection item. These badges have a number of styles. Use the AA car badge numbering system to verify the authenticity of an item you are considering by matching the issuing date to the style of that period.

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28 Comments

  1. i have a collection of car badges,,and would like them valued to sell,.can you help me,.,? ty

     
  2. Les Black says:

    i have an early badge with cycle written under the no. 381208, could anyone please tell me the year and value please

     
  3. Tinus Bezuidenhout says:

    I have what looks like a 1947 AA South Africa, can anybody advise me as to the value. No number on it. Contact me on tinusbezuidenhout@yahoo.com

     
  4. I have a hexagonal flat chrome badge with basketweave background with 2 holes on the extended bit at the bottom (according to the notes on this page this is rare) and the number V91033 and underneath the letter R. Is the letter R suggesting it is a flat motorcycle badge or is it commercial?

     
  5. sharon clemence says:

    I have some very old AA car badges. 3 of them have ‘South Africa” on the top and 1 has Rhodesia on the top. This is apparantly rare according to what you say at AA. I want to sell these. Can anyone let me know what they are worth? I am in SA

     
  6. johnny oryd says:

    AA BADGE
    hi i have a badge of the 1945 type and the member number is 0661412. dont know if the first zero the letter o. kan enyone tell me more aboute this badge? pleas send me a email.
    johnny.oryd@hotmail.com
    best regards, johnny

     
  7. I worked at the AA starting 1964 and my husband joined in 1966 and worked there until he retired. We collected several badges over the years and he was particularly proud of a very old one he had. However, eventually they either rusted off or were nicked. Today I have just bought a 1932 chrome badge for £15 so it is still possible to acquire them. (In fact the shop where I got it has about 8!But it is Basingstoke, home of the AA now.) I shall, however, be keeping this one INSIDE the car!

    There is a very good dating chart on this and several other sites and guidance to price – well, look at them on eBay.

     
  8. john barry says:

    Good morning,
    I have a AA car badge that was with my 1935 20/24 Rolls Royce when I purchased the car n 1967
    Serial number 77828L
    Its in good condition
    ANy idea of what it is worth ?
    Its a plain nickle badge

     
  9. kevin gorman says:

    Paddy badge num is issued between Apr
    /nov 1927 and was nickle plated

     
  10. kevin gorman says:

    I have listings for badge issues from 1906/1967 as a collector and AA
    patrol for 30 years .I came across the records.even the AA have not got a copy anymore. Basically.the chrome beveled yellow black 1945/1967 are still around in numbers for 5/15 pounds on ebay. Flat brass 1910/20 go for 70/100.flat Chrome 1930′s approx 25/35 .earlier rare 1906/1910.2/300 pounds

     
  11. Paddy O'Neill says:

    I have 3 AA badges: One brass badge number 767499 that looks like the 1911 example shown. I have a second badge white metal or nickel badge with a oval convex bulge shape and screwing holes either side, a shorter leg than badge one, and a number that looks like the letter O prefix followed by numbers 506844. My third badge is a square badge with black AA letters on yellow background and with chrome frame, square black metal mounting plate on the back. If anyone can help me date these, it will be most appreciated.

     
  12. I have a hexagonal AA badge with basket weave background no V75900 could anyone date it for me please.

     
  13. gareth williams says:

    I was recently given an a.a. badge with new zealand on the top and number 433 s.i. on the bottom.any information would be appreciated

     
  14. Hi, I write books on the subject and I have discovered some misinterpretation in the above text:
    1. The comment about the police helping AA members is not correct. The first 10 or so years, the police and the AA were enemies. After that the relation gradually improved.
    2. The committee approved the first Stenson Cooke badge in March 1906. After that some 1,000 badges were made the coming year.
    3. Nickel badges were introduced in 1907.
    4. The earliest versions carried Stenson Cooke’s name and the badge number only. The word ‘Secretary’ was added in 1907. The back had the street address as well as phone number and telegraph address from 1907 and on.
    5. The AA and Motor Union merged in 1910. It’s the outer rim and wings that comes from MU. The entwined A’s was already there and was not intended to resemble an ‘M’.
    6. Choices of metal did not change after 1925, but a smaller (still tall) version were introduced in 1924. There were nickel badges as early as 1907. After 1928 however only brass badges (mostly chrome plated) were produced. This year another three types were introduced, all based on the 1924 model.
    7. There were a lot more than 10,000 copies of the long-shank badge. Actually hundreds of thousands. It was introduced in 1924 (see above).
    8. The third badge in the graphic badge sequence was not introduced in 1920, but in the mid-30s.
    9. Before 1930 the Commercial Vehicle badge did not have a basket weave pattern. After 1930 it came either in brass or chrome (with pattern).
    10. Apart from the MC badges with enamelled tokens, there was an extremely rare MC version of the frying pan made in only 1,000 copies in 1907.
    11. Badges from the former British colonies and protectorates includes some 30 countries and over 400 different badge versions, 1920s-1990s.
    12. The flagged committee badges were replaced in 1967 with a rectangular style. It has a design similar to that of the standard badge, but has a set of wings added above the twin A’s.
    13. The square “white or silver” badges were production errors. Never authorised releases. In some poorly produced series the yellow also faded into grey.
    14. All hexagon shaped AA emblems and insignia are South African.

    You can read all about this in the book “British Car Badges”, and a new AA book (“An Autojumbler’s Guide to AA Badges”) soon to be released in 2012.

    Best regards

     
  15. My Father has several of the flat metal AA car badges. One has the no. 9394J embossed on the front…could you please tell me when this was issued and if it has any value?

     
  16. derek raymond lishman says:

    I HAVE A BADGE LIKE THE 1945 SHAPE NO ON BOTTOM IS 3E59712 CAN YOU TELL ME WHEN ISSUED THANKS D R LISHMAN

     
  17. Carole Barclay says:

    I have an old Rhodesia AA badge NO: 92592 and would like to know what it is worth. I would be grateful for any help in valuing this badge which is in very good condition.

     
  18. T.G Taylor says:

    I have an old AA Malaysian badge issued origianally to member N12710.Is there any chance of tracing who this member was and if it has any value?

     
  19. Patrick Lambe says:

    My brother sent me two badges to put on my restored MGBs, a 1970 and 1978. Nice the have the real badge. Thanks for the information on AA.

     
  20. hello wondering if you can help with an AA badge that my father has had for years we have been told that you can identify ex owners of badges via the serial number which i have looked at for issuing date but got a bit confused with the suffix number. the serial number is
    63911T any help or information regarding this matter would be greatly appreciated with thanks
    regards lynn wilby

     
  21. R. Armstrong says:

    I found this information unhelpful as I was hoping to find the date of the commercial AA badge on my 1930 commercial vehicle. The “complete” guide to dating AA badges does not cover commercial AA badges. Mine has a V prefix and 6 numbers. There is no reference to this type of badge.

     
  22. louise hayes says:

    hi their is their any way of telling me a aa badge history and who owned it and were it came from please as i have a vintage aa brass badge (number) 38788 please many thanks

     
  23. JOHN GREEN says:

    very interesting my badge i found out was 1960-1961 my number is 3B68110

     
  24. my AA badge has the number :
    4 A 73754, can you help me to find the date ?

     
  25. Michael Taylor says:

    I have a very beautiful old badge which I think belonged to my father.
    The number is 0M 14,076.
    It would be wonderful if you could confirm if it was registered with Mr E.L.Taylor.

     
  26. 5C40735 intertwinged AA yellow background good condition

     
  27. 5C40735 GOOD CONDITION

     
  28. richard Stewart says:

    I found the information very ineresting and would like to ask your help,i have aa badge chrome AA ON YELLOW with the number 05258Y with screw fittings on the top either side of the wings but can find no reference to these numbers / letter or fitting type anywhere, can anyone please help.

    Many thanks

     

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