Internet Guide to OA Insignia

Blue Book Notations Explained

Compiled By Scott Dillard

Issue & Variety

Border Color

Border Type

Background Color

Name Color











which would be a second variation of the third solid embroidered issue that has been defined and that has a blue rolled edge border, multicolored background, red lodge name and a yellow fleur-de-lis.

Issue & Variety

All Order of the Arrow insignia are identified by a letter and a number. The first letter is a capital letter or letters and represents the basic issue type. These letters have developed historically within the hobby. Some of the letters refer to the shape of the patch. Other letters refer to the material the patch is made of and yet other letters describe where the insignia is worn. If this seems confusing, you are correct. It is confusing. However, the issue lettering system for patches is well over forty years old and is firmly entrenched within the hobby.


Click on an Issue Type to see a sample:

Issue letters that describe shape:

A = Arrowhead shaped patch generally smaller than 5 inches in height

F = Flap shaped patch that is not fully embroidered

P = Pie or triangular shaped patch designed for a neckerchief point

R = Round patch generally less than 5 inches in diameter

S = Flap shaped patch that is fully embroidered

X = Patches of any of shapes not listed above (odd shapes) generally smaller than 5 inches

Issue letters that describe material:

B = Patch of any shape that is made of Bullion construction

C = Patch of any shape that is chenilled, either in whole or part

L = Patch of any shape made of leather

M = Any full-size emblem that is metal (does not include hat pins)

W = Woven patch, generally flap shaped but not always

Issue letters that describe location worn:

J = Jacket patch and large patches generally over 6 inches

N = Neckerchiefs, either printed or embroidered. Those with patches sewn upon them are not listed but are described by their patches.

ARM = Armband

HBD = Headband

Issue letters that describe special categories:

There are certain categories of patches that are noted by having another letter preceding one of the letters above. Example: YS2

e = Event Issue. Event issues are items by a lodge for an activity such as an ordeal, fellowship, banquet or reunion. They do not include contingent items for Jamborees, NOAC’s or Conclaves. Event items are listed by their year, not by their shape. This allows chronological listing and easy future additions of missing items. Event items are usually collect by date.

H = Historical issue. Historical issues are official re-issues of patches previously made by the lodge or in the case of merged lodges, commemorative patches made by the lodge resulting from the merger. There is controversy regarding what constitutes a historical badge, some collectors view historical badges as being nothing more than officially sanctioned fakes. In general, to be a historical patch, the patch so designated fits the above criteria and was never meant for wear on the uniform.

Q = Lodge Rejects. Patches that are rejected by the lodge and returned to the manufacturer. These are not fake patches. After the lodge rejects the patches, they are sometimes released into the collectorate by the manufacturer.

Y = A broad category of patches and neckerchiefs that for one reason or another do not fit into the main listing. All known prototypes and samples are in this category. Also, patches that cannot be positively confirmed are placed in this category pending future documentation. There are certain patches that are either camp patches, defective patches or other patches that have appeared in previous listings but should not really be part of this catalog. These are also given the “Y” designation so that when collectors unfamiliar with their story chance upon them, they will be able to make an identification.

Z = Fake. Fraudulent, bogus, unauthorized, phoney, spoof and other privately issued insignia.

The number - chronologically speaking

The number following the issue letter(s) shows which sequential issue of an issue type (e.g. F, S, N, etc.) it is. Numbers correspond to the chronological sequence of issues with the lowest number being the oldest. No two issues from the same lodge and issue type have the same number unless they are varieties of the same issue. Decimal point numbers are used when needed to add items discovered since the original list. This infinite number supply allows chronological updates without changing the number system.

The second letter - varieties

The letter (if any) that follows the issue letter(s) and issue number is a lower case letter and signifies a particular variety within an issue if the issue has any varieties. Not every issue has varieties, but some have two, three, four or more. Sometimes, varieties occur when a patch is re-loomed on a future order. However, some varieties occur within a single loom run of a patch so multiple loom runs of a patch are not necessary for varieties to occur. In all cases, if an issue has varieties, they will be listed together whether or not they appeared in sequence chronologically. There are cases where the different varieties of an issue were issued many years apart and other lodge patches came in between them. In an effort to make the lsiting more readable, the listing deviates from strict adherence to chronological order and groups all varieties of an issue together. However, listed varieties of an issue may not always be in chronological order.

Full description of an issue is listed only on the “a” variety. Subsequent varieties only have descriptions of how the varieties differ from each other.

Border types

Patches are bordered in one of several ways while neckerchiefs may have different types of borders. The border letter is a capital letter as follows:

C = Cut edge. A cut edge is an embroidered type of border that is embroidered directly into the patch at the time it is made and then the edge is cut around the perimeter.

R = Rolled edge. Rolled edges, or marrowed edges, are applied to a patch after it is made. They are characterized by rolling around the edge of the patch from the front to the back. A rolled edge has an interlocking stitch on the front and the back - often called the “lock stitch” in descriptions. Neckerchiefs may also have rolled edges.

FR/E = If the back lock stitch of a rolled edge is visible from the front of the patch, that is known as a Flat Rolled Edge.

P = Piped edge. Piped edges are seen only on neckerchiefs and are characterized by having a cloth or ribbon border sewn around the edge. Piped borders are usually thin, but can sometimes be wide. Wide piped borders are known as Ribbon Borders.

[blank] = None of the above borders. Insignia may still have a border, but is not one of the types of borders as listed above. Examples would include silk-screened patches that may have a silk-screened border and neckerchiefs with a simple hem. Also, many chenille patches have a felt edge border around the chenilled part. These patches would not have any letter listed in the border type column, but the color of the border would be listed.

Color Fields

Some notes about 4 color fields (border, background, name and FDL):

Border Color

A border color can be listed for an item that has a blank in the border type column (see notes about “[blank]” above.

Background Color

This describes the background color of the insignia. In the case of a twill, felt or sateen patch, the background color will be the color of the material. This will be the case even if the amount of material showing represents only a small percentage of the design of the patch.

In the case of fully embroidered patches or fully chenilled patches, the background color will be the predominate or main color of the badge. If there is no predominate color of the patch, then the background color is called M/C which stands for multicolored.

Neckerchiefs will always have a background color that is the color of the cloth neckerchief. Even if the neckerchief has an embroidered or silk-screened design that has a multicolored or background color different from the cloth, the background color of the neckerchief is still the color of the cloth.

Name Color

When the lodge name is shown on the insignia, the color of the name is listed. If the lodge name is not on the patch or neckerchief, this column will be blank. In fact, even if there is other lettering on the patch such as lodge number, WWW, council or city, the “Name Color” column will be left blank to show that there is no name color. However, the color of this other lettering may be described in the “Comments” section.


This color refers to the BSA proprietary symbol that is on many OA patches and neckerchiefs. The proprietary symbol is usually a fleur-de-lis (FDL), but may be a scout sign, trefoil, BSA or sometimes “Boy Scouts of America” spelled out.

In 1975, the National Office decided that a proprietary symbol should be on each piece of OA insignia effective the following year, to protect the design of that insignia from unauthorized use and reproduction. While this action did little or nothing in regards to its intended purpose, the use of the proprietary symbol became quite popular and can be seen on most OA insignia issed after 1980.

Collectors should note that sometimes the proprietary symbol is camouflaged into the design and can be difficult to see. Additionally, some insignia issued prior to 1976 has a proprietary symbol on it.

Color Key

An explanation of the various color abbreviations can be found at

Comment section

The Comments sections includes all sorts of information that may be pertinent to describing and identifying the insignia. This section is not meant to fully and completely describe each listing, but is only meant to give enough information to identify and differentiate any particular listing from the others. What follows are various terms and abbreviations that will be found in the comments section and in collectors’ jargon.

75th = Issued to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Order of the Arrow in 1990

A.L. = Arrow left. When viewed from the front, the arrow points to the left of the patch (which would be the wearer’s right)

ANN = Lodge anniversary. If the anniversary is shown in parenthesis, that means the patch was issued to commemorate an anniversary but it is not notated as such on the patch. Example: (25th ANN)

A.R. = Arrow right. When viewed from the front, the arrow points to the right of the patch (which would be the wearer’s left)

Beading = A thin embroidered border around any design element of a patch

BIC = Bicentennial. Issued to commemorate America’s Bicentennial in 1976

BMT = Base material. Base material is the twill material that a embroidered patch is made on. Often times the color of the base material is visible on the edge of a cut edge (C/E) patch and this can determine the difference between varieties.

BRO = Issued for brotherhood members

C/E = Cut edge (see Border Types, above)

CB = Cloth back. This is the type of backing that a patch has when it does not have a plastic back (PB)

CD = Computer design stitch. This is a thin, flat style of embroidery generated by a computer that has become popular since 1989

Composition = A material that looks like felt, but it is not. It is actually flocked canvas

Creslon = A type of backing that looks like thin white felt

CSP = Council shoulder patch. Used here to describe the distinctive should patch shape sometimes seen in OA patches

DIA = Diamond shaped patch. Patches in this category are typically square patches that are rotated 45 degrees. Sometimes they are an elongated version of this shape

DIAG = Diagonally stitched embroidery. When the patch is viewed from the front, the direction of the embroidery is at an angle to the horizon

DJ = Diamond Jubilee. Issued to celebrate Scouting’s 75th anniversary in 1985

ELG = Elangomat

EMB = Embroidered

FDL = Fleur-de-lis proprietary symbol. A Fleur-de-lis (or French Scout sign) is characterized by the way it is embroidered or drawn. The FDL has the sides separate from the body of the symbol. Often times, the FDL has a cross bar in its midsection. When embroidered, the FDL has multidirectional embroidery (see also SS)

Felt = Made of felt, either 100% wool or a wool blend

FF = Listed in “First Flaps” by Morley, Topkis and Gould, 1992

FR/E = Flat rolled edge which is characterized by its flat appearance and the visibility of the back lockstitch from the front

GER = Geer shaped flap. The Geer Company was a major patch manufacturer during the 1950's and 1960's. During that time, they made hundreds of flaps including many first flaps and cut edge F’s that were all of a distinctive shape exclusive to the Geer Co.

HEX = Hexagon shaped patch

HMVE = Hand made variations exist. Chenilles and some other types of insignia are made individually as opposed to being loomed in quantity as are CD and Swiss patches. Such patches are prone to HMVE

HOR = Horizontally stitched embroidery. When viewed from the front, the embroidery is stiched side to side in a direction parallel to the horizon

JAM = Lodge delegation to a Jamboree. Typically listed with the year of the Jamboree (e.g. JAM81)

LB = Lion Brothers shaped flap. Lion Brothers has been a major patch manufacturer since the 1950's. During this time they have made hundreds of rolled edge flaps including many first flaps that were all of a distinctive shape. This company is well known for its quality embroidery which is characterized by very thick, multidirectional stitching that often has more stitches per inch than other companies. Prior to 1985, Lion Brothers patches could also be distinguished by their white backs. The Lion Brother’s flap shape was also widely copied by other embroidery companies

MTZ = Moritz shaped flap. The Moritz Company was a major patch manufacturer during the 1950's and 1960's. During that time they made hundreds of rolled edge flaps including many first flaps that were all of a distinctive shape exclusive to the Moritz Co. This company’s flaps typically were made with flat rolled edges (FR/E)

MVE = Minor variations exist. This notation is commonly used when patches are very slightly different, but the difference cannot be described. For example, similar patches that are slightly different sizes will be given the MVE notation.

NOAC = Lodge delegation to a National Order of the Arrow Conference. Typically listed with the year of the NOAC (e.g.NOAC63)

NT = No twill. Actually, NT is a gabardine twill that does not have diagonal or directional rows passing through it when view from the front. No twill material has also been called reverse twill and linen (see also TL and TR)

OCT = Octagon shaped patch

ORD = Issued for Ordeal members

PB = Plastic back. A plastic coating on the back of a patch (see also CB)

PEN = Pentagon shaped patch

QC = Quarter circle shaped patch usually for neckerchiefs. A patch of this shape will typically be triangular with two straight sides connected by a curved side.

R/E = Rolled Edge. The predominant edging style since 1965.

REC = Rectangular shaped patch

Sateen = Made of a shiny satin-like material

SPC = Standard Pennant Company. This company has been making chenilles and felts since the 1930's. Patches made by SPC can be identified by the different labels on their backs.

SQU = Square-shaped patches

SS = Scout sign proprietary symbol. A Scout sign is characterized by the way it is embroidered or drawn. The SS is typically embroidered in a single direction, most often vertically. (See also FDL)

SSC = Silk screen design. Many neckerchiefs and felt patches are silk screened.

Stencil = A primitive type of printing seen on some old neckerchiefs and patches. Stenciled insignia may show the “SSC” notation with additional stenciled comment.

Step stitch = A cost-saving embroidery method simulating the appearance of solid embroidery. The background is really about 50% embroidered, but is closely matches to the color of the backing twill.

SWISS = Swiss embroidery. This is a thick type of embroidery that was popular from the 1880's through the 1980's. Swiss embroidered patches are constructed on a large loom, typically 100 or more at a time.

Tags = These are the single threads that connect letters to each other or to the border. Tags may also connect different design elements to themselves or to each other. Often times, different tagging patterns help differentiate varieties of an issue.

TL = Twill left. Twill is a gabardine material that often has a grain or rows. When viewed from the front, the rows of twill left appear to go up diagonally to the left.

TLR = A twill left that has coarse rows

TLM = A twill left that has medium rows

TLS = A twill left that has fine rows

TR = Twill right. Twill is a gabardine material that often has a grain or rows. When viewed from the front, the rows of twill right appear to go up diagonally to the right.

TRR = A twill right that has coarse rows

TRM = A twill right that has medium rows

TRS = A twill right that has fine rows

TRI = Triangle-shaped patch

TVE = Twill varieties exist

VER = Vertically stitched embroidery. When viewed from the front, the embroidery is stitched up and down in a direction perpendicular to the horizon.

VIG = Issued for Vigil members

(WAB) = Listed, but not pictured, in the “Wabiningo Emblem Handbook”

WWW = Three W’s. Wimachtendink, etc.

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The Internet Guide to Order of the Arrow Insignia is published and maintained by John Pannell, jpannell "at", © 1997 - 2014.  This site is the result of many thousands of hours' work by many generous persons.  The images here are free for others' non-profit use.  Use of these images for profit without express written permission is expressly and strictly forbidden.  Please note that eBay policy expressly forbids the use of another eBay user's images without permission.

Much assistance for this site has been given by members of the American Scouting Historical Society and the International Scouting Collectors Association for which I am grateful.  The identification and cataloging of all issues pictured in this guide are correct to the best of my knowledge.  No further warranties of the accuracy of this information are made or implied.