As you can see, both buttons are marked ‘BOWLEY & CO MELBOURNE’, although one is brass coloured, much polished and with a loose shank whilst the other is copper coloured and with a fixed shank. Alfred Bowley & Co were military and naval outfitters in Flinders Lane, Melbourne from until at least 1956.
Royal Artillary uniform buttons have a crown depicted over the cannon and ramrod; this style without the crown was used for the pre-federation Permanent Artillery Artillery Corps which was created in 1870 after the use of British Corps was ceased, and lasted until 1901. (It was also used later from 1924 for Artillery Association Uniformed Staff in the United Kingdom.)
The other button of this design in my collection is by Stokes and Martin, dating it from 1870-1883.
Top Row L to R: Royal Australian Army Service Corps, Australian Army Catering Corps, Australian Army Armoured Corps.
Bottom Row L to R: Australian Army, Royal Australian Army medical Corps.
AUSTRALIAN ARMY CATERING CORPS:
This corp in, not suprisingly, responsible for the preparing and serving of food. Prior to 1939, the role of cook was a despised and lowly role, with poor quality food the result. In 1939 Sir Cedric Staton Hicks recognised the problem and set about improving the quality of supplies, the quality of equipment, and the quality of cooks. The later he achieved by raising their status, pay and training against considerable opposition, and in 1943 the Corps was raised with Hicks as the first director.
Post WW2 the Corps came under the control of the Royal Australian Army Service Corps until its disbanding in 1973. During 1990s there was outsourcing of training, and a reduction in numbers with the future of the Corps in doubt, but it continues to this day.
AUSTRALIAN ARMY ARMOURED CORPS:
Australian Tank Corps was formed in 1928. In 1941 it became the Australian Army Armoured Corps. Due to the changing times, the Light Horse were absorbed into this corps.
Blessed Easter! Hope you are all having a safe and happy break. Carol sent me a list of the buttons in the photo she shared: as well as the ones I have recently featured there are a few those stories can be found in the ‘Branded buttons’ section of this blog: I. & J. Roff of Ballarat, Mutal Stores and Buckley & Nunn ,both of Melbourne. There are some generic brandings: Double Ring, Ne Plus Ultra, Imperial and Excelsoir. There are 3 from London and one from Madras!
There is one I had not spotted: J. Allender of Ballarat
From 1874 until 1883, John Allender and T.W. White were in partnership as tailors and outfitter at 117 Sturt Street, Ballarat. After their partnership dissolved, Allender continued alone until 1906.
Amusingly, Carol also sent me a photo of a Commonwealth Peace Officer uniform buton, by Stokes and Sons, posed upon her sandled foot. Nedds must, I guess, whilst you are camping! Nice button!
According to Wikipedia: “A Peace Officer Guard (POG) was established in 1925 and by the 1940s consisted of several hundred uniformed officers who primarily provided physical security at critical government locations across the nation.”
A big hello to the regular visitor to this site from Samoa; I guess you are a fellow collector.
William Thomas Walsh moved from Hamilton in 1882 to Ararat where he was a tailor and outfitter until his business became bankrupt in 1892. He was the manager for the Palace tailoring Company in Wangaratta from around 1900-1904, after which he moved to Melbourne. He became the head cutter for Messers Davies, Deery & Co, and died in 1935.
Edward James Gleeson was born in Maryborough in 1871. In 1902 he sold his tailoring business there and moved to Ararat where he lived and work for the rest of his line. He died in 1954.
J. Payne & Co: Ballarat
This is an example of a button that can be dated to a narrow era. James Payne opened took lease on a store in Sturt Street, Ballarat in 1902. He was 35years old at that time, so had worked elsewhere, or for some other firm before then.
On Boxing Day of 1903 he embarked on a world tour that did not see him return to Ballarat until October 1904. In 1907 in was reported that he was well established as a wholesale woollen merchant in New Zealand.
As the buttons above show, branded or named tailors buttons are similar to the generic trouser buttons recently discussed. I have a collection of these, although most of mine are made of vegetable ivory. They link us to a time past, when cheap, imported, ready -to-wear clothes weren’t an option. A time when you made your own, or went to a tailor. The tailor’s would pay to have their name inscribed, or printed or embossed onto the buttons as a form of advertising, and a mark of pride in their work. The good thing about these buttons is that researching the names allows us to date these buttons, and make an historical journey into past lives and times. Sorry to disappoint metal-detectorists, though, whilst collectable, they are not intrinsically valuable. They are just too common and pedestrian.
Some of these tailors I have written about on the ‘Branded buttons’ pages. Here is a some new story:
TIPPETT & CLEMENCE, BALLARAT:
In August 1885 “the tailoring and outfitting business of the late Mr A. Lewis, in Stuart Street, will in future, we are informed, be carried on by two of the deceased gentleman’s employees, they having purchased it. The new firm will consist of Messers Tippett and Clemence, both sons of well known residents of Ballarat.” These men were George Francis Tippett and Edward Treganza Clemence. In 1890 the partnership was dissolved as Edward was in poor health. He died sooner after at the age of only 25 years. Tippett continued alone until 1895.when he went into partnership as an undertaker with the firm of Jordan and Tippett! he died suddenly and unexpectly at the age of 54 years.
Wow! I have never seen plastic Disney buttons on card before, and never with this degree of hand painted detail. I have been told they were Coronet branded, but have not seen evidence of this yet. Perhaps they were sold by both distributors?
When people show a button to a collector they invariably want to know “when, what, where”. When was it made? What is it made from and what was it used for? Where did it come from?
Sometimes this is easy, sometimes not! Collectors, books and websites are available, but sometimes you just need to do a bit of detective work. If the buttons are on a card you can ‘Google’ the brand/company. Search in archives such as the national archives/State archives, State Libraries and websites such as Trove (or equivalents). You can also Google a description, e.g. ‘glass scotty dog shaped buttons’ and see what comes up. Images will come up on Ebay/Etsy/Pinterest, etc that may look like your buttons.
Beware that sellers often say that their buttons (and other vintage items) are 10-30 years older than they actually are! Funny how they don’t make the mistake in reverse, that is to say, quote that the item younger than it is. Prices on the cards can help. In Australia we changed to decimal currency on 14th February 1966. For a short while in 1966 both imperial and decimal prices appeared. So, a card priced, for example, 65 cents, can’t be from the 1930s!!! Sellers note this please!!! Also many so called ‘art-deco’ buttons are from the 1950s, not 1930s, and many ‘rare’ buttons aren’t.
If a button has a backmark it can help, although beware that some backmarks were used for many years. For Australian manufacturers, check out the pages where I have outlined their history. For overseas makers, try Googling, There are lists of American and British backmarks that can be very helpful.
If the button has a Royal cypher or crown that will let you know the correct era. I once tried to explain to an over-excited metal detectorist asking for $100 for his so-called “rare pre-federation Queensland police uniform button” was not, as it had a “Kings Crown” (1901-1952) not a “Queen Victoria Crown”(pre-1901). Not trying to get a bargain (as I didn’t need the button for my collection) I tried to explain it was not that rare or valuable. Alas, someone had told him it was, and he didn’t believe me. Royal cyphers/crown date buttons to a certain Monarch’s era; this is not up for negotiation!
Queries often come through to the Victorian Button Collectors Club, and also to this blog about the identity of “unearthed” buttons. I found an article from 1999 about buttons found at archaelogy sites, by Jennie Lindberg, that is relevant.
In the article she states that the oldest button types found on Australian sites are bone sew-throughs and blanks (for covering with thread or fabric), pinshanked buttons of bone or mother-of-pearl, and metal rings (as used as the base for Dorset as similar buttons). She also mentions porcelain buttons, which became common in the 1840s, glass buttons, pressed horn, and metal coat and trouser buttons. Metal trouser/braces buttons may date from the late 18th century. “They … often bear generic slogans such as ‘Our Own Make’, ‘Best Ring Edge’, ‘Excelsior’, etc.” Remants of fabric covered copper alloy buttons may be found dating from the mid 19th century.
She cautions that it can be hard to identify what a button was used for as they are used for such a wide variety of clothing and other items such as pillow-slips and even toys. Also, delicate and ornate buttons that appear feminine may have come from men’s waistcoats.
Please note that these trouser buttons are also found overseas. They may have come from a button manufacturing centre such as Birmingham. The same generic terms may have been used in more than one era and by more than one maker. These buttons are not valuable, but they are certainly interesting.
In Trove ( archived Australian newspapers etc):
It is often claimed online that ‘Best Ring Edge‘ buttons date from late 19th to early 20th century, and this was backed up by a newspaper story in Trove dated 1897 of a child wearing these buttons.
‘Excelsior’ trouser buttons were advertised in Australia circa 1893- 1896.
‘Double Ring Edge’ are mentioned in 1866. They are found on trousers in a museum from the late 19th century.
‘Our Own Make’ buttons are mentioned from 1892 through to 1930s.
“Best Solid Eyelet” buttons are found on a 1890s uniform, as are “Four Holes Improved”.