Of lanyards and badge holders—a brief history

The lanyard is most associated in today’s modern world with the cord around one’s neck with badge holders to house identification cards, access pass or in special functions, event passes.

Executives and employees in the corporate world as well as students starting from pre-school to graduate school are expected to have lanyards around their necks with the accompanying badge holders holding their IDs.

And while this ubiquitous piece of wear is now a common sight around, many may not be aware of its history and beginnings and the many fascinating stories behind it. To say the least, the history of the lanyard is quite colorful and steep with adventures.

Badge holdersThe first recorded history of the lanyard was during the 1500s when it was used in ships for a variety of purposes. It was also used by sailors and pirates alike to carry items and weapons. “Laniere” is a French word which means strap or thong and is believed to be the etymology of the word lanyard. French sailors were the first to utilize lanyards on their ships for rigging and when in war which explains its origin in name.

Over the years, the lanyards were developed to have more specific uses for the military, having been designed and modified to carry weapons, tools and other objects. Later on, civilian uses also became widespread because of its functionality and ease of use.

During World War I and even throughout World War II, officers attached lanyards to their pistols, whistles and swords for practical reasons. With the advent of modern pistols which no longer need lanyards to carry them, lanyards were used for decorative purposes instead.

The first lanyards used for personal purposes were fashioned from straps or cords used on the ships. They are simple in appearance and are focused more on functionality. Later on, lanyards became fashionable as well as the craft on making it became more complex.

In most modern military organizations today, lanyards can be seen as part of officers’ uniform decoration. These come in different colors and are actually representative of a rank or an award achieved by the officer. It is further distinguished by the type of its braid and on which side of the body it is worn. Some of these lanyards are can be considered very complex depending on the knots and braiding.

Lanyards now have become synonymous to uniform decoration from the military to the police to marching bands or any other organization or group that wears a uniform. Most of these lanyards are quite fancy and beautifully made and actually enhances the overall appearance of a uniform which is why it has become a very popular accessory to it.

With the modern introduction of a wide variety of attachments such as badge holders, the lanyard has now become part of the corporate and educational landscape.

Companies and schools have their names printed, engraved or sewed on lanyards for easy identification. Designs range from simple to intricate. Some are thick and others are thin depending on their preferences. With a wide variety of materials and make to choose from, lanyards today have become very popular not only for security purposes but have become quite a fashion statement as well.

From its first use in shipping in the early 15th century to military applications, uniforms, decorations and now as part of identification and security purposes with the accompanying badge holders or other types of attachments such as clips, loops to hold cell phones and small carabiners, the lanyard has come a long way and to say its evolution is very interesting is quite an understatement.

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