The diamond design of the Finance Corps’ branch insignia was first used in 1896. With the merger of the Pay Department into the Quartermaster Corps in 1912, the issue of branch insignia became moot, but when the Pay Department was taken out of the Quartermaster Corps and established as a basic branch of the Army called the Finance Department in 1920, the need for an insignia again arose. The War Department took the simple approach and simply began using the advice that had first been approved thirty-four years earlier.

All of this is straightforward history. What isn’t so clear is why the diamond was selected in the first place.

In his massive tome Encyclopedia of the United States Army Insignia and Uniforms, retired Lieutenant Colonel William K. Emerson ventures a theory that, while possible, doesn’t seem very compelling. Emerson describes the 1896 incarnation of the insignia as a “gilt metal, imitation embroidery blind buttonhole 1 inch long and ¾” high...If one takes a regular buttonhole and pulls on each side of the opening, it makes a diamond shape.” This is most certainly true, but such a phenomenon hardly seems to be so noteworthy that it would be considered an appropriate symbol for an entire branch of the United States Army.

The branch colors of the Finance Corps, however, are much easier to understand. Silver and gold formed the backing for United States Dollars until President Franklin Roosevelt issued an Executive Order in 1933 outlawing the private ownership of gold. Although paper money was widely used in the 19th century, both silver and gold were just as common and in many cases were preferred over paper currency because they could not be depreciated by overprinting or counterfeiting.

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