Colonial school badges become all the rage

Hong Kong. Alumni of Hong Kong schools will be raking through their wardrobes to find their old school blazers and ties as school badges bearing colonial symbols have become the latest craze for speculators cashing in on the return of the British Colony to China.

King's College, Queen's College and Queen Elizabeth School are dropping the royal crown on their badges, uniforms and exercise book covers. Students of one school are already being offered Pounds 16 for badges bearing the crown which cost students just over Pounds 1.50. The rise in value mirrors the demand by collectors and speculators - often from mainland China - for anything bearing colonial insignia including Queen's head stamps, already replaced with new Hong Kong versions, uniform badges and official crockery.

Schools will be allowed to retain the word King or Queen in their names. But, like most government institutions the badge of the 75-year-old King's College will have to be changed after the handover, along with other uniforms which bear colonial insignia such as the police and prison services.

A consignment of memento badges being manufactured in Britain for the school has already shot up in value as the college received more than 1,000 orders for the special badges, a King's College teacher said.

Several students said they had bought ordinary school badges recently to present to friends only to find their parents had also asked for badges hoping they would rise in value because of their rarity after the handover. The school, which will decide soon on a new non-colonial badge for the September term, said that almost the entire stock of school badges had been sold, outnumbering the total of students.

One student said complete strangers had been approaching him in the street offering to pay for his school badge.

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