The history behind The King’s Emblem


The King’s Emblem – or the King’s badge, which it is usually called – became the possession of nearly everyone during the occupation years, 1940-45. Worn as a buttonhole pin, it expressed allegiance to the king and love of country, and at the same time it was a visible expression of a quiet protest against the German occupation.

The little emblem, which was produced both in gold and sterling silver versions, measured 24 mm in height and 14 mm in width and was fitted with a royal crown at the top. The emblem’s plate was shaped like Danish flag as a background for King Christian X’s initials. Written at the bottom were the years 1870 (the year of the King’s birth) and 1940, when the King turned 70. On copies made before and after the King’s 75th birthday in 1945, the latter year was changed to 1945. 

The occasion for the emblem’s first appearance was Christian X’s 70th birthday on 26 September 1940, five months after the German occupation of Denmark. As a prelude to this event, a national collection for a public gift was started, and its surplus would go to the King Christian X Foundation to support disease-fighting and cultural purposes. 

To support the national collection, the Georg Jensen Silversmith Workshop, with the King’s permission, decided in the summer of 1940 to launch production of The King’s Emblem, which would be sold through the country’s jewellery shops.  Profits from the sales would go to King Christian X’s Foundation. 

The artist behind the emblem was the sculptor and engraver Arno Malinowski (1899-1976), who had a long artistic career behind him at The Royal Porcelain Factory and – from 1936 – at the Georg Jensen Silversmith Workshop.  His many hollowware items in silver and his stylistically pure jewellery had given rise to deserved attention, and therefore he also became the man behind the design of the simple King’s Emblem with its clear symbolism.   

At the starting point, The King’s Emblem was merely meant to be a manifestation of the occasion of Christian X’s 70th birthday, and the idea was that production would be discontinued at the end of 1940. But when the emblem turned out to be a big commercial success, permission to continue production and sales was renewed year after year as long as Christian X lived.  

Thus, from 1940 until the King’s death in 1947, no fewer than 1.2 million copies were produced and sold, which amounted to almost one emblem per Danish household. During the same period, the sales brought in a surplus of more than 1.5 million Danish crowns, which the Georg Jensen Silversmith Workshop continuously paid in to King Christian X’s Foundation, from which even today funds are donated annually for health-related and cultural purposes.  

Production of The King’s Emblem ceased with Christian X’s death in 1947. A proposal to produce a new one with Frederik IX’s initials was rejected by the King on the grounds that the emblem was intimately connected to his father’s role as a national rallying point during the occupation. 

Published December 11, 2012

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