Railroads issues badges to most employees to help identify them and their position. Railroad badges were often ornate and had the railroad’s name or initials and the position or rank of the person to whom the badge was given. Because they are easily recognizable and generally quite valuable, there is a lot of counterfeiting and forgery among badges. If you’re new to collecting the best thing you can do is to go to shows, meet reputable dealers, see authentic badges up close, and learn from seasoned collectors, who are still fooled from time to time.
Authentic badges do hold significant value though and if you have documentation or a strong provenance many badges can bring prices well over $1000. Entry level badges for new collectors can be had for as low as $100, beware of reproductions as there are many out there, if you know what you’re getting and you want to see badges for cheap then it can be a decent way to start your collection.