Obverse Design Badge is in the shape of a Maltese cross. The center is round with a rope edge. The outside of the badge has a smooth raised edge. In the center is "16" (the badge number). The top arm of the cross has a curved smooth banner with the location name of "LA BOCA". The left arm (as you look at the badge) has a hydrant from the early 1900's. The right arm has a hook and a ladder. The lower arm has another curved smooth bannner which reads "C.Z.V.F.D" for Canal Zone Volunteer Fire Department. The entire badge has a textured background.
Reverse Design Probably a pin back. To be determined.
Metal Unknown. Silver in color. Probably nickel plated brass. Size and Shape About 44mm wide by 44mm high (1 3/4 inches by 1 3/4 inches).
Dates Issued Unknown. This series is tentatively identified as a construction era type of Canal Zone Fire Department badges. The volunteer fire departments were organized starting in December, 1905. The town of La Boca became Balboa in 1909, and this is probably the third type issued of the three similar varieties. So this badge may date to sometime between 1907 and 1909.
Issurer Probably the Isthmian Canal Commission. La Boca was a town name referring to the mouth of the Rio Grande. The mouth of the Rio Grande became the Pacific entrance of the Panama Canal, near Panama City. The name of the town was changed to Balboa in 1909 to honor the discoverer of the Pacific Ocean. However, a section of Balboa continued to be called the "La Boca" district.
Numbers Issued Pieces known include #16.
Rarity Rare. Manufacturer Unknown. Source King Collection.
Varieties There are three similar varieties. The first type has a place name at the top, "V.F.D." at the bottom and never mentions the Canal Zone. The second type is identical except that "CANAL ZONE PANAMA" has been added in small incuse letters on the field around the badge number. The third type has "C.Z.V.F.D." at the bottom to identify the Canal Zone, and does not have the small "CANAL ZONE PANAMA" legend.

Fire Department vest badge. I would appreciate e-mail from anyone who can add anything to the history of these badges.

Population Count Known specimens are as follows:
  1. Badge #16 - Sold on ebay by 'oddbits' (Tom Atkinson) to 'tankerchief' (David King) on January 7, 2001 for $152.51.