Insignia Collectors Catalogue Systems

The authors of many Uniform Insignia References have developed systems of cataloguing their subjects, in order to provide common terms of reference within the collecting community. These catalogue systems are referenced not just in particular books, but are often referred to by insignia vendors, or sellers such as in online auctions. For example, Lenard Babin's book Cap Badges of the Canadian Expeditionary Forces 1914-1919 provides a catalogue numbering scheme for the badges illustrated in that book. It is now common to see references in online auctions, such as "Babin E-108" to refer to the cap badge of the 108th Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force.

The following is a list of the most commonly used catalogue schemes.

Airborne Insignia

  • Created: The system instituted by Louis Grimshaw in his book The Badges and Insignia of the Canadian Airborne Forces overlaps several other cataloging systems but is useful for dedicated Airborne collectors. Some criticism has been made that he identifies some variants incorrectly.

  • Syntax: Grimshaw divides insignia by unit, rather than type (ie all badges of the First Special Service Force are designated with an "SF-" prefix, including cap badges, collar badges, formation patches, etc. Badges are identified by numbers, with variants suffixed by a,b,c etc.

    • First Special Service Force insignia identified by "SF-" prefix.
    • Mobile Striking Force insignia identified by "MF-" prefix.
    • Canadian Airborne Regiment insignia identified by "AB-" prefix.
    • Qualification, Trade and Specialist insignia specific to airborne units identified by different prefixes:
      • Parachute badges (ie wings) identified by "PB-" prefix.
      • Parachute trades badges (ie rigger, instructor) identified by "PT-" prefix.
    • Miscellaneous airborne badges identified by "MI-" prefix.



  • Created: Eric Smylie's book Buttons of the Canadian Militia: Army, Naval and Air Forces 1900-1990
  • Reference: "Smylie X-YYY"
  • Syntax: Smylie has divided the buttons into several categories, identified by either one or two prefix characters, followed by a hyphen, and then a 1, 2 or 3 digit number. Variants designated by a,b,c etc. suffix. For example: F-29b is a variant worn by the 29th Waterloo Regiment.

    • General Service buttons identified by "GS-" prefix
    • Corps buttons identified by "C-" prefix
    • Mounted Regiment buttons identified by "M-" prefix (three regiments are identified by A,B,C rather than numbers, possibly to identify Regular Force units, though the scheme is not applied to the infantry units).
    • Foot Regiment buttons identified by "F-" prefix.1 (One unit identified by A rather than numbers).
    • Canadian Expeditionary Force buttons identified by "OS-" prefix (for "Overseas"). Where units other than infantry battalions are presented, the numbers are replaced by three letter codes.
    • Naval Services buttons identified by "N-" prefix.
    • Air Services buttons identified by "A-" prefix.
    • Newfoundland forces buttons identified by "NF-" prefix.

Canadian Army Badges


The most all-encompassing cataloguing system has been devised by Chris Brooker; first in the three volumes of The Standard Catalogue of Canadian Army Badges 1855 to Date, and in the more recent Brooker's Canadian Army Badges 1920 to Present.

  • Created: Chris Brooker's book series The Standard Catalogue of Canadian Army Badges 1855 to Date
  • Reference: "Brooker CB.XXX-XX-XX"
  • Syntax: Brooker is somewhat unique in setting up a system that can logically accommodate new discoveries, with gaps between certain numbers. His identification numbers come in three parts;

    • The first 3 digit number identifies the Regiment or Corps; Brooker does not use Order of Precedence but rather has assigned numbers to all regiments, corps and branches in alphabetical order, along with a "CB." prefix. His numbering system starts with The Algonquin Regiment at CB.100- and ends with The Yukon Regiment CB.276-.

    • The second two digit number, starting at 10, identifies what type of badge is being documented.
      • 10 - full dress shako, helmet, bearskin, plate or badge
      • 11 - Cap, glengarry or beret badge
      • 12 - Collar badge (right side) worn on wearer's right collar
      • 13 - Collar badge (left side) worn on wearer's left collar
      • 14 - Metal shoulder title (right side) worn on wearer's right
      • 15 - Metal shoulder title (left side) worn on wearer's left
      • 16 - Crossbelt plate or plaid brooch pin
      • 17 - Any other metal badge for pouch, sporran, etc.
      • 18 - Belt buckle badge or waist belt clasp
      • 19 - Second World War Slip-on Shoulder Titles
      • 20 - Second World War printed canvas shoulder title
      • 21 - Melton or felt shoulder title
      • 22 - Any other canvas badge or formation patch
      • 23 - Any other cloth badge or formation patch
      • 24 - Post 1965 Combat Cap Badge
      • 25 - Post 1965 Combat shoulder title
      • 26 - Post 1970 Work Dress shoulder title
      • 27 - Post 1975 CF Green abbreviated shoulder title
      • 28 - Post 1980 CF Green full pattern shoulder title
      • 29 - Post 1975 Cadet Corps machine woven shoulder title and post 1990 Garrison Dress shoulder titles
      • 30 - Corps and Regimental Buttons
  • The last two digits, again starting at 10, "refer to the chronological order in which the item was issued."

Some interesting facets of this system:

  • Left and Right collar badges are sensibly treated as different badges, as some units use mirror image badges and some use identical badges. Brooker also clarifies that "right" and "left" are from the viewpoint of the wearer, not the viewer.

  • Formation Patches are treated as regimental/corps/branch badges and given numbers corresponding to each regiment known to have worn them. So all regiments, for example, that wore the formation patch of 2nd Canadian Division will have a different number assigned to that patch (in the case of the Black Watch, for example, the 2nd Division formation patch is given number CB.105-22-12, and Brooker identifies a "second pattern" which he assigns number CB.105-23-20.


  • Created: Daniel Mazeas provided sets of reference numbers for insignia in his two books 'Insignes de la Milice Canadienne: Canadian Militia Badges Pre 1914 and Insignes Canadiens 1920-1950: Canadian Badges.

  • Reference: "Mazeas X.YY"

  • Syntax: Mazeas' references are to entire collections of insignia by unit, for example a cap badge, collar badges, and metal shoulder badges for a particular regiment all receive the same reference number. The numbers are based on Order of Precedence and are prefixed according to category, and variants are designated by a,b,c etc.

    • Helmet Plates receive an "HP." prefix.

    • Shoulder Belt Plates receive an "SBP." prefix.
    • A "PB." prefix also appears.
    • Pre-1914 insignia of the corps and services receive an "MS." prefix.
    • Pre-1914 insignia of cavalry regiments receive an "MC." prefix, some have only a "C." prefix.
    • Pre-1914 insignia of Infantry regiments receive an "MM." prefix.
    • Pre-1914 insignia of Cadet Corps receive a "CD." prefix.
    • 1920-1950 insignia of the corps and services receive an "S." prefix (some also appear in the Pre-1914 listings.
    • 1920-1950 insignia of the Cadet Corps and other cadet groups receive a "C.D." prefix.
    • 1920-1950 insignia of cavalry and armoured regiments receive a "C." prefix.
    • 1920-1950 insignia of infantry regiments receive an "M." prefix.
    • 1920-1950 insignia of Canadian Officers Training Corps contingents receive a "COTC." prefix.
    • 1920-1950 insignia of miscellaneous organizations receive a "VA." prefix.
    • 1920-1950 insignia of Air Force units receive an "A.F." prefix.

Canadian Expeditionary Force Cap Badges


  • Created: Lenard Babin's book Cap Badges of the Canadian Expeditionary Forces 1914-1919

  • Reference: "Babin X-YYY"

  • Syntax: All units identified by a prefix character (a letter or one or two digits), a hyphen, and then a 1, 2 or 3 digit number. Variants designated by A,B,C etc. suffix. For example: E-107A is a variant of the 107th (Infantry) Battalion.

    • Infantry Battalions identified by "E-" prefix

    • Pioneer Battalions identified by "1-" prefix

    • Labour Battalions identified by "2-" prefix
    • Universities Overseas contingents identified by "3-" prefix
    • Mounted Rifles units identified by "4-" prefix
    • Infantry Regiments (not numbered) identified by "5-" prefix
    • Independent Infantry Companies identified by "6-" prefix
    • Infantry Drafts identified by "7-" prefix
    • Reserve Infantry Battalions identified by "8-" prefix
    • Mounted Rifle Brigades identified by "9-" prefix
    • Cavalry Units identified by "10-" prefix
    • Remounts and Veterinary Corps units identified by "11-" prefix
    • Field Artillery units identified by "12-" prefix
    • Heavy Artillery unit identified by "13-" prefix
    • Siege Artillery units identified by "14-" prefix
    • Siege Artillery draft identified by "15-" prefix
    • Royal Horse Artillery identified by "16-" prefix
    • Divisional Ammunition Columns identified by "17-" prefix
    • Ammunition Sub Parks identified by "18-" prefix
    • Army Service Corps units identified by "19-" prefix
    • Trench Mortar batteries identified by "20-" prefix
    • Railway Troops units identified by "21-" prefix
    • Construction Units identified by "22-" prefix
    • Skilled Railway Employees identified by "23-" prefix
    • Bridging Companies identified by "24-" prefix
    • Cyclist units identified by "25-" prefix
    • Field Ambulances identified by "26-" prefix
    • Stationary Hospitals identified by "27-" prefix
    • Armoured Batteries identified by "28-" prefix
    • Motor Machine Gun Brigades identified by "29-" prefix
    • Machine Gun Companies and Draft identified by "30-" prefix
    • Machine Gun Battalions identified by "31-" prefix
    • Tank Battalions identified by "32-" prefix
    • Signal Companies identified by "33-" prefix
    • Forestry Companies identified by "34-" prefix
    • Military Police units identified by "35-" prefix
    • Special Service Companies identified by "36-" prefix
    • Garrison Regiments identified by "37-" prefix
    • Depot Battalions identified by "38-" prefix
    • Corps Troops units identified by "39-" prefix
    • Pipe Band badges identified by "40-" prefix
    • Infantry Works companies identified by "41-" prefix
    • Badges indirectly connected to the CEF identified by "42-" prefix

Cap Badges

Chris Brooker

  • Created: Before he embarked on his all encompassing cataloging system (see above), Chris Brooker provided a series of reference numbers for Canadian cap badges in the Second World War in his earlier book Canadian Cap Badges of World War Two.

  • Reference: "Chris Brooker CB.Y" or "Brooker CB.Y" or just "CB.Y"

  • Syntax: Brooker identified badges by number, in alphabetical order of the corps and regiments, with a "CB." prefix. Variants were identified by sequential numbers, for example, the prewar badge of the Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Highlanders is identified as CB.149, while the 1942 version is CB.150. Differences in make (ie different finishes) are not recognized and badges are only listed by design.


  • Created: Roy Thompson's book Canadian Army Cap Badges 1953-1973 (described as Vol. 3 in a series)
  • Reference: "Thompson XYYY"
  • Syntax: Thompson's book deals with a wide variety of regiment/corps/branch insignia but only applies his catalogue system to cap badges. His book deals only with the "Queen's Crown" period and so all badges in the book are identified by a "Q" prefix, a 1, 2 or 3 digit number, with variants identified by a,b,c etc. The numbers are assigned to regiments/corps/branches in alphabetical order rather than Order of Precedence. His cap badge identifying system was based on Babin's.

Thompson proposed several other prefixes to cover other periods:

  • "V" - 1900 to 1914 pre-First World War
  • "W" - 1914 to 1920 First World War (presumably not including CEF, which are covered by Babin).
  • "M" - 1920 to 1936 Militia Period
  • "K" - 1936 - 1953 Second World War and Korea ("K" presumably stands for "King's Crown")
  • "Q" - 1953 - 1979 Queen's Crown period
  • "C" - Officers training and Cadet Corps Officers Training (1-99) and Cadet Corps (101 + ?)

Thompson's proposal seems not to have been carried through to completion. It is worthy of note that Thompson was a retired RCAF officer and wrote his first edition in 1973. The second edition came out in 1992 with no change in title or content. The "Queen's Crown" period may be said to still be in effect.

Thompson has suggested that badges not in his books be given new designations, though it does not appear others have been using his system. For example, the badge of the Royal Canadian Infantry Corps is not listed in his Volume 3 (Cap Badges and Insignia of the Canadian Army 1953 - 1973).


  1. Presumably the use of "I" for Infantry was thought to be a possible source of confusion with the number 1 when written, or the desire was genuinely to use the "Foot" designation as that would have been a designation possibly still used in 1900. Oddly only one "Foot" unit is identified by a letter (A) while the Regular Force units are identified by numbers; the units are also presented in Order of Precedence though regular force units seem to be scattered throughout with no logical sequence. A unit raised in 1910 and disbanded in 1924 is presented as an afterthought as F-134 while the Canadian Airborne Regiment (raised in 1968) is F-133.