Historic Edinburgh University alumni club badge unearthed in estate sale

IT was one of the first ever university alumni associations - founded in London in more than 150 years ago by an elite group of Edinburgh University graduates.

The badge was worn by one of the founding members of the club.

Now an original membership badge worn by one of the 21 original members of the Edinburgh University Club of London has been discovered by an antiques dealer.

One of just 21 believed to have been made, the blue and white enamel and silver badge belonged to one of the founders of the Edinburgh University Club of London - formed on 27 June 1864 as a dining club.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The group was believed to be one of the first alumni clubs of its kind in the UK and boasted Sherlock Holmes author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Peter Pan author Sir James Barrie among its former members.

The badge was discovered in the estate of the Earl of Yarborough - Frederick Gordon Dalziel Colman - of the Colman’s mustard family dynasty, although it is not know how the badge or the club was connected to the family. The Earl was born in 1882 - two years before the club was launched - so could not have been a founding member.

Seller Lee Burgess, owner of RB Antiques in Bedale, Yorkshire, said the badge had been part of a collection of items obtained from the Earl’s estate.

He said: “You won’t find another of these, that’s for sure - it’s the only one I have ever seen and from what I can gather there would only be about 21 of these made for the founders of this club. Someone from the family must have been connected to the club. It was a very elite club with few members.”

Burgess bought the badge along with a number of other items from the Earl of Yarborough’s estate, including a £3,000 trophy presented to the Earl “on his coming of age” in 1903.

A spokeswoman for Edinburgh University said: “It’s interesting to see this remarkable piece of history up for sale.”

Lord Joseph Lister - a surgeon who pioneered antiseptic surgery - was an early Club president. Today, the club has around 200 members and holds social events throughout the year.

The badge, which has a blue cross on the front and the words “1864 Edinburgh University Club”, was found attached to a piece of stiff card with the name “JWR Bennett” written on it. It is up for sale for £900.

Now popular among university graduates, alumni clubs often organise social events, publish newsletters or magazines and raise funds for their academic institution.