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Sheriff Badges & Why They Have A Five Pointed Star

Updated on July 2, 2010

Why is a Marshall or Sheriff's Badge Traditionally a Five Pointed Star but a Deputy's Six Pointed?

In England, the King appointed the Sheriff. The Sheriff would be known as the King's man.

The symbol of the United States Marshall's Service is the five-pointed pentacle. The pentacle was used in ancient times by sorcerers and believed to have magical powers.

sheriff badge
sheriff badge

The First Sheriff's Badges

Is The Sheriff Star A Tradition?

It just isn't true that sheriffs always wore five-pointed stars and their deputies six-pointed ones.

Early American lawmen forged a new tradition of forsaking old traditions regularly without much regard.

The truth be told there seems to be no fixed protocol on five-six pointed badges. The five-point star has been preeminent from the beginning.

You see it in the star of the flag, the insignia of an army general and in the Metal of Honor. So it was obviously a logical choice for the first sheriff's badges.

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Other Star Shapes for Sheriff Badges

Using Different Shapes for Sheriff Badges

When other sheriff badge shapes began to be used it just seemed right to use circles, shields and the six-pointed star for the lesser legal representatives than the top lawman.

However this did not hold true indefinitely.

The library has a 1913 supply catalog with did offer five-point stars engraved "City Marshal" or "Chief of Police" and six-point starts engraved, "City Marshal," "Sheriff", "Constable," and "Detective,".

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Buford T. Justice: Hey boy, where is Sheriff Branford at?

Sheriff Branford: I AM Sheriff Branford.

Buford T. Justice: Oh, pardon me. For some reason you sounded a little taller on radio.

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Even the local Sheriff or want to be Sheriff must maintain a high level of fashion!

It Is Hard To Cut Out A Sheriff Star

Who says the shortage of protractors in the Old West didn't have a major influence on American History and the Use of the Star as a Symbol for the Sheriff Badge?

Since customarily badges, including many deputy, sheriff and marshal badges were made locally, it seems reasonable to say that it would have been easier for the blacksmith or gunsmith slash badge maker to make a six pointed star.

When you cut a circle if you take six chords equal to the radius of the circle and join them around the diameter, you will find that the chords form a perfect hexagon. If you join alternative points of the hexagon, you get two superimposed equilateral triangles - a six-pointed star.

In order to lay out a pentagon within a circle- the basic figure for cutting a five-pointed star you have to divide the circle into 72 degree arcs. This requires a devise to measure angles from the center or a very good eye and a lot of trial and error.

That is just my theory what do you think?

Who is your favorite Sheriff or Deputy? - Have you ever wanted to be a policeman or a sheriff?

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    • profile image

      De 7 months ago

      The star of David is also 6 pointed, which means that particular symbol was created in biblical times & now being used but the history books is not saying why? Is the sheriff a sign of a Jewish religion? & why are the communist using a star at all??? Learn about why David used a star, then research why the star is being used in America. It is alot different than what u are thinking.

    • Wednesday-Elf profile image

      Wednesday-Elf 7 years ago from Savannah, Georgia

      I can't think of a 'favorite' Sheriff or Deputy, but this was an interesting story about Sheriff Badges. My son was a policeman for 3 years and his 'badge' or 'shield' was a completely different shape - no 'stars' at all.

      I wonder if the 5-star shape of the Sheriff Badge has any relationship to the Pentagon shape used for the U.S. Pentagon, representing our military (Department of Defense), near Washington, DC?