Shoulder Knot, Patrol Colors, Flashes, or Ribbons (1913-1929)


From 1910 until 1913 a colored Bandanna or Neckerchief was worn to indicated the Patrol the scout was a member of. Official Scout Neckerchiefs were not available through the National Headquarters until 1914, thus troops or scouts purchased bandannas at their local dry goods store. In 1912 the committee on Badges, Awards and Equipment of the National Council passed a motion to change from colored Bandanna or Neckerchiefs representing the patrol to to a shoulder knot of ribbon to indicate the patrol. The text from Boys’ Life, November 1912, page 19 is as follows:

The committee on Badges, Awards and Equipment of the National Council has decided to change the present method of indicating membership in a given Scout Troop and Patrol. In the future the color adopted by a troop for its own will be shown by means of the bandanna handkerchief which is worn about the neck, while the patrols colors will be indicated by a shoulder knot of ribbon or other material. The use of the bandanna neckerchief to designate troop colors is not in accordance with the statement on page 360 of the appendix of the “Handbook for Boys”. But it was thought best to make this change, partly because the range of colors in which neckerchiefs may be secured is somewhat limited whereas any number of patrols would find it easily possible to procure shoulder knots of different colors. This change also conforms to the method of designating troop and patrol colors in England.”

The first printed ad for Patrol Knots appeared in Boys’Life, July 1913, page 30. The text is below.

"Are you a Bear? Then wear a brown and red shoulder knot. To be fastened on the shoulder seam of the left sleeve. Made of heavy braid, 4 strips,. 6 inches long, with brass clip for attaching. Each Patrol has distinctive colors - we have them all. See Boys’ Handbook, pages 20-22 - Price 5 cents. Order Direct From National Headquarters Boy Scouts of America, 200 Fifth Ave. New York”

The first ad for the new patrol knot states the left sleeve. Patrol knots were officially moved to the right sleeve upon recommendation of the Committee on Badges, Awards, and Scout Requirements and approved by the Executive Board of the National Council in May 1914.

The next ad printed for Patrol Knots appeard in the Boy Scout Supply Catalog, August 1913, page 8. The text is below.

"No. 1060. Scout Shoulder Knot. Best imported braid 4 strips 6 inches long fastened to the shoulder of the uniform with metal clasp. Used to designate patrol membership. Made in all combinations of colors. See pages 20 to 22, Boys’ Handbook. 5 cents”

A second reference appeared in 1913 in Boys’ Life, September 1913, page 29. The text is below.

"PATROL SHOULDER KNOTS - Striking bits of color which increase the attractiveness of the Scout uniform and distinguish the members of one patrol from another. Made of best imported braid, six inches long, and fitted with a brass clip for fastening to the shoulder. Find the emblem of your patrol on pages 20-22 of the Handbook for Boys and order a shoulder knot of the colors there indicated. All combinations of colors in stock. Price 5 cents.”

In 1917 two changes occured in the printed ads. First the description changed form "Knot" to "Colors" and sceond the length changed from 6 inched to 5 inches. The Scouting, Equipment Number, May 1917, page 53 text is below.

“No. 1060. SCOUT PATROL COLORS. Recommended by the official Handbook. These knots of colors lend to an attractive touch to the uniform. Made of the best imported braid; 5 inches long; fastened to the right shoulder with a metal clasp. Patrols should wear colors indicated for their patrol emblem on pages 69 to 71 of the Boy’s Handbook. Each 5 cents"

1921 brought about the next change. The length was increased to 5 1/2 inches. The Handbookfor Boys, June 1921, page 74 text is below.

“Patrol Colors: Patrol colors should be worn on the right shoulder only. They are five and one-half inches long and three-quarters of an inch wide.”   

The final change to Patrol Colors came in 1925, the length was reduced to 4 1/2 inches. Note the description change back to "Knot". The Scouting, Equipment Number, May 1925, page 9 text is below.

"No. 1060. SHOULDER KNOT. Consists of four ribbons 4 1/2 inches long of two colors. Worn on right shoulder, fastened with metal clasp (furnished) or sewed on and used to designate colors adopted by patrol. In ordering, specify patrol name. Prepaid Each 74; set of 8...504”

In 1925 the red felt square with a black silk screened emblem was introduced. Patrol Knots or Colors be optional and were conplerty retired in 1930. After 1930 only the round felt patrol emblem was official.


Variations;    Ribbon colors reversed, but same color combo

Number of Patrol Names in this Series; 50