Curious questions: Why do we give rosettes to winners?

Whether pinned to a politician’s backhand or won in the ring, rosettes can be more valuable than shiny trophies, as Julie Harding finds out.

The ribbon in the color of the sun’s rays is pleated and sewn to surround a cardboard core, this flower-shaped head complemented by a few long tails of matching shade. Rosettes are offered as a reward, for a sparkling competitive performance or to mark the completion of an event and, increasingly, they are given in remembrance of a significant day (weddings or birthdays).

For decades, they’ve also been the badges of political candidates, a crystal-clear denotation of party allegiance, sometimes with a touch of fun and frivolity: The smiling leviathans of the Monster Raving Loony Party are ridiculously oversized for a reason.

Rosettes: Ancient Greeks on color television

  • The stylized flower-shaped rosette (minus the tails) dates back centuries. The ancient Greeks used it on grave markers and it was also used in Romanesque and Renaissance architectural styles.
  • Today’s rosettes were preceded by cockades, ribbon knots, which in the 18th and 19th centuries were used to identify the rank, political allegiance or army of a nation.
  • The blue, red and yellow of the rosettes of major political parties were standardized as early as the 1970s, mainly due to the advent of color television. Before that, local tradition often dictated the color
  • The Pony Club have long awarded blue rosettes for victory, red for second place and green for third – although it is not known why or when red became the preferred color for first prize in other competitions. .
  • The AA has chosen rosettes to assess the quality of food served by restaurants and hotels. Introduced in 1956, the three-tier scheme became five-tier in 1992

Liberal Democrat Sarah Green wore the classic yellow rosette during the count and result of the Chesham and Amersham by-elections in June, when she defeated the Tory candidate in a historic constituency first for his party. ‘I am proud to wear [my rosette], but I don’t do it lightly. Our roots as a party go back a long way, so I feel a real sense of responsibility when I have a rosette, ”she explains,“ even though I didn’t wear one during the campaign because I felt a bit too much like a pony prize! However, there is drama and story in the election tally and I thought it was important to wear a rosette in my party color there.

While not exclusive to political party supplies, Rosettes Direct, unofficially Britain’s largest rosette maker, produces around 30,000 for the Liberal Democrats, more than 25,000 for the Labor Party and 40,000 for the Conservatives during election campaigns.

The look on children’s faces when they receive one is pure bliss

“I recognize a number of our rosettes in the media,” admits chief executive David Wallace, who won’t be relying on the people he’s seen wearing the company’s designs, nor the exact shades used. “These pantones are like a secret ingredient. “

The Lancashire-based company’s ribbon accolades are also collected at events across Britain by the best in the rankings, from riders to supremos, including the Royal Bath & West Show. Slightly out of step with the conventional colors of red for a win, blue for the second and yellow for the third, this great West Country event awards winners blue rosettes (as happens on the other side of the pond). A few years ago, this sparked a scuffle, with a judge refusing to award the cobalt frills, simply saying they were ‘wrong’.

A winner at the Bath and West Show, Shepton Mallet, in 2016. Credit: James Thomas / Alamy Live News

“It made me think about the history of our blue winners’ rosettes,” says Alan Lyons, Head of Shows. “I wrote to many other organizers. Someone told me this dates back to the Napoleonic Wars, with blue rosettes on a tunic denoting higher rank, and some have said that other West Country shows award blue rosettes only because Bath & West le made !’

One of Britain’s biggest events, the Great Yorkshire Show, can place a large annual order of 5,000 with Rosettes Direct, but quality is also always at the forefront. “We emphasize the traditional fault cord tape,” says Jo Francisco, public relations manager. “La Faille is one of the most important silk fabrics, making it a popular choice for bespoke clothing or high quality items.”

“The total expenditure turned out to be £ 800; I won 29 rosettes so each cost me £ 27.

For contestants, who are probably completely unaware of how their rosettes are produced or what they are made from, a glance at a fancy flourish long after the event can still spark a memory of a glorious moment in the ring.

Echoing many dusty saddlery, Yorkshire-based Mandy Garbutt, who exhibits Gloucestershire Old Spot pigs, has a gigantic ‘wall of rosettes’ in her farm office, where she displays some 150 frilled memorabilia in part to this effect, but also to impress the future buyers pig. One particular favorite sports purple, pink and gold ribbons, the award when Burfords Dolly won the Supreme Pork Championship at the Egton Show.

“I often find that smaller shows give better rosettes, perhaps to compensate for offering less prize money,” reflects Ms. Garbutt, who in 2013 calculated how much each rosette cost her, taking account of registration fees, diesel and overnight stay. stays. “The total expenditure turned out to be £ 800; I won 29 rosettes, so each cost me £ 27. ‘

Adults love rosettes, but they can take on additional significance for the younger generation. I was 15 when I won my first, for a clear round aboard a Suffolk Punch mare called Skylark. The electric moment when the official stepped forward to hand me my lilac ribbons remains in my consciousness to this day and this precious piece of thrift store, now faded, is safely stored in a box in my attic.

The 15 teenage members of the Shetland Performance Display Team have a myriad of rosettes in their collections, their regular rewards for running around arenas at shows. “Everyone is equal and everyone receives the same rosette,” emphasizes team manager Isabella Bride. “The look on children’s faces when they receive one is pure happiness. However, the rosettes not only represent their great constituency, but also their incredible efforts to raise funds for Bristol Children’s Hospital.

Amelia Tatum, 15, has had numerous successes at Crufts, including four wins in the Under-14 BASC Best Young Handler category. ‘Her absolute favorite rosette is from her victory in the [2017] Young Kennel Club final at Crufts with Bracco Italiano Bonario Burlesque ”, explains his mother, Claire. “The rosette is three-tiered in red and green, with the all-important ‘Crufts’ written along the tail. It means more to her than the glass trophy she won. It represents moving up the ranks from there. age six as an absolute beginner until being recognized as one of the best handlers in his age group in the country. That means all the hard work, the early mornings and the trips all over the country were worth it.

In a small industrial unit in Castle Cary, Somerset, a sewing machine purrs as Stella Middleton ties an already pleated green ribbon to the outer perimeter of a cardboard disc. With a perfect circle completed, she attaches a slightly smaller white interior second story. Alison Allen, owner of Rosettes Unlimited and patron of Ms. Middleton, takes these heads to her bench, where she glues forward-facing backs and centers.

The latter that she had printed earlier, on her old Blockmaster hot foil stamping machine, inserting the metal letters individually into a groove, in this case specifying Canine Hoopers UK (which offers a low impact sport for dogs), before heat the machine to 150˚C, then manually pulled the lever several times, each tug bringing the gold leaf and card head into contact for that golden impression. Then she cut a long roll of ribbon with giant scissors, creating the tails that she glued to the original cardboard disc, before attaching that green printed center. Two hundred have been ordered, which will take the duo a day and a half.

“A lady called me one day and told me that she imagines we put all the materials in a machine and they come out on the other end as finished rosettes. People just don’t know how labor-intensive the manufacturing process is, ”laughs Allen, who supplies customers as diverse as the Pony Club branches and the Royal Windsor Ride to Morris dancers. and the Chelsea Football Club merchandiser. “When I took over the business, I had never even used a sewing machine. “

A classic three tier rosette made from red, white and blue ribbon.

Now Mrs. Allen is a master at making knife pleats (“flatter”), box (“fluffy”) and ruffle (“more like an Elizabethan collar”), knows the difference between “lipstick” and “melba” for the single-sided woven edge ribbon colors that it uses from UK company Cole Fabrics and obviously straddles the spelling. “I already made a mistake on the rosettes of the Wiveliscombe and District Canine Society,” she admits. “Fortunately, I spotted it before I overdone it!” “

Multi-medal Paralympian Sir Lee Pearson admits it’s all about the gold rather than the elaborate ribbons he seeks at major championships, although he likes to see a horse’s bridle well high adorned with some frills during the awards pump. .

Her most valuable rosette is the black and green rosette collected at the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games, her first Paralympic victory. “Like all of my championship rosettes, it’s now in a 3ft by 2ft gold frame,” he says. However, the one that means almost as much is a much less flamboyant model, collected when he was 15 aboard a mare called Tacky. “I had lost my confidence and then Tacky came along and together in a local able-bodied dressage class we ended up in the frame. This rosette literally changed my life.

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