The year listed for each merit badge is the year the first badge was earned and given to a scout. Some titles were not earned the first year the requirements were available; for example: Angling requirements were printed in the 1911 Handbook, but the first badge was earned in 1913.
This is the designation given to the first emblem design with provenance.
It is not possible to know how many of a particular design was actually manufactured; therefore the issued number represents the number of badges earned in the first year badges were earned. In the earliest days of Scouting James West negotiated with embroiders such that he could order one badge at a time. For several of the 1911 and 1912 earned merit badge titles only one was earned; however more than one was made due to the manufacturing process at the time. Even though West could order one badge at a time the embroider made a row on the embroidery machine and held them until the next order from West. This has been confirmed because first designs that only one was earned are known to exist in several collections.