These buttons are likely to date circa WW2 or just after, when the Americans were having a big effect on history and culture.
I’ve not seen 3 joined cards before. I wonder how large the original sheets were?
The red buttons got me excited (sad, I know). They link ‘Modern Miss’ to the distributors ‘Coronet’. I have several variations of this paisley design, with two, four and also large sewing holes (see below).
I have long suspected that buttons sold on Coronet branded cards were supplied by O. C. Rheuben, the predecessors of General Plastics, due to similar designs appearing and also the fact that the companies were operating at the same time.
O. C. Rheuben, I suspect also distributed buttons themselves under multiple brand names. These probably included: Exclusive Buttons, American Style (above), ‘Fashionable Buttons’, ‘Latest Fashion’ and ‘Modern Miss’. There are also cards labelled only with ‘Made in Australia’ that sport a lady wearing a be-ribboned hat and a flowing, below-the knees dress. I have previously dubbed her ‘The Lovely Lady’, but it occurred to me last night that maybe she is the personification of “Modern Miss”?
They also (based on the buttons and on the cards used) supplied buttons for sale for Woolworths (various branding), whereas perhaps G.Herring (Beutron) supplied G. J. Coles (Embassy). Later, Beutron supplied buttons to these and other labels.
For reasons now lost in time, Woolworths sold multiple brand names of buttons, including Moonglow, Hi-Style, Boilproof, Kiddietone, Spares and Sew-n-save. Strangely, they sometimes left the Woolworths name off the design.
These are glass buttons, therefore imported. They have four-way box shanks (see below) which, according to the Big Book of Buttons were characteristic of many Czechoslavakian glass buttons both pre WW1 and 1918-1938, which is strange as these were sold in the 1950s. Were they old stock, or were the manufacturers using up old shanks?
4-way box shank
Arthur George “Randolph” Griffiths: 1898-1952
Managing Director General Plastic 1946-1952.
(See also the Beauclaire page)
Randolph was born in Suva in 1898. His grandfather had started a Fijian newspaper, which was a challenge to distribute to remote islands by boat in the 1860s! By 1912 his parents had moved the family to Sydney. Randolph enlisted in WW1 and served for 3 years, but was deemed unfit for active service as he had a history of rheumatic heart disease. He was at that time working for the Perdriau Rubber Corporation (later Dunlop-Perdriau Ltd) and by 1935 had become the sales manager. He resigned to work on his own business, possibly Grifko Auto Accessories Ltd, which he started in 1924 but folded by 1936.
In 1920 his parents moved to California, which was perhaps a reason he travelled to America often, enabling him to research plastics and button designs. In 1921 he married Florence Rheuben, sister of Otto and Percy who had bought the pioneering Herrman Company from yet another brother in-law, Berthold Herrman. I wonder if this was a cause for concern, as he was Anglican, and they Jewish. None the less, he acted as the honorary treasurer of the Emanuel Temple. He became vice-president of the Bondi Life Saving Club where he would save 4 lives. In 1932 was elected to the local council. He enlisted again during WW2, reaching the rank of Major. At some stage he joined the family firm of O. C. Rheuben & Company, as when it became General Plastics in 1946 he was the chairman and managing director. He would be involved in setting up the short lived pearl shell manufacturing factory in Cairns in 1952, just before he died aged only 54 years. I wonder if this rheumatic heart disease caught up with him.
He was remembered for his work in the Welfare Guardian Society, the Bondi Lifesaving Club, and for his ongoing concern for Fijian natives living in New Zealand.
O. C. Reuben & Co became ‘General Plastics’ in 1941. It is possible Beauclaire branding was used from then, however, the samples supplied to the Powerhouse Museum in 1950 are labelled General Plastics with a drawing of the ‘Venus de Milo’ as a trademark,but not the name Beauclaire. The earliest date that ‘Beauclaire buckles’ were advertised for sale was 1951, and ‘Beauclaire buttons’ in 1953.
That is my long winded way of guessing that the following buttons date from the early 1950s!
Some other examples of this design in my collection:
The larger button is concave, the others not. The pink one is coloured only on the top of the button.
Geometric buttons like these featured in adverts from 1956-7. See details below:
The large Maxart card dates pre-decimal (14th February 1966) and was still in the era when a customer could buy an individual number of buttons that would be cut from the card. This necessitated the cotton at the back being papered or taped over to stop buttons coming loose!
The small cards date post February 1966, possibly until the early 1970s.
Perhaps the buttons were 5/6 per horizontal row (4 buttons) or 6/6 per vertical row (6 buttons)? The bottom row has been snipped off this card.
These Astor buttons date c.1966 as the prices are equivalent; one card has both prices 2/3 converting to 25 cents. They have a lovely glossy, iridescence. Some are sew-thru, one has a self shank, the others clear plastic inserted shanks. ? Polyester/lucite.
The annual Victorian Button Collectors Club’s Buttonfest was held today. Although the displays and stalls were up to standard, the number of attendees was down; perhaps competition with the concurrent textile show as well as 3 separate protests in the city (one semi-naked!) was to blame? Whatever the reason, I did my bit by purchasing goodies from most of the stalls!
By matching buttons on the store display card below with cards in my collection, I believe it dates c.1960-1965:
N.T. Police button by Stokes and Sons 1911-1952 Queensland Police button by AJ Parkes
Northern territory Police:
The current NT Police force started in 1911. Before that the Territory was served by South Australian Mounted Police from 1870 and the Native Police Corps from 1884. Wikipedia notes they have 70 stations and shopfronts, 3 boats, 1 helicopter, 23 horses and 72 camels!
Queensland got its own force in 1864, the year of the state’s separation from New South Wales. It was not until 1931 that 2 women were appointed to the force. Wikipedia doesn’t mention how many camels they own!
The R.P.A.Y.C. button is on the left. I have included a black plastic naval button to show the similarity, however, it is blackened brass.
In 1856 the first yachting club was formed in Sydney; the Mosquito Club. In October 1867, with the Prince about to visit, the club reformed to become the Prince Alfred Yacht Club.
The Sydney Morning Herald, 16th October 1867.
The Royal Sydney and Prince Alfred clubs’ yachts formed a guard of honour when the HMS Galatea sailed through Sydney Harbour. In 1911 the club was given permission to use the prefix ‘Royal’.
Crowds waving the HMS Galatea goodbye. Illustrated Sydney news, 22nd February 1868.
The Sun, 16th February 1935.
In 1919 the club moved to the less crowded waters of Pittwater, and stayed there until selling the land for a pretty penny in 1970. A second club house had previously built in the 1960s and was now the club’s sole location.
Comparison with other sizes and colours: The blue/grey are 6.5mm diameter, the pink 8.5mm and the green 10.7mm. Pearlised plastic was popular in the 1950s, with finish being acheived with a coating containing ground fish scales! Unfortunately, it often peels or chips off, spoiling the button.
Whilst they could have been used as buttons, They were promoted as ornamentation:
A summer stole littered with lustrous pearls… Published in The Sunday Herald 16 August 1953.
In August 1803 Governor King appointed a Scottish convict weaver to run a weaving establishment. This was the beginning of an organised woollen industry in Australia, although female convicts had been spinning and weaving before this, sheep having been brought out with the first fleet in 1788. From 1804 female prisoners at the ‘Female Factory’ were set to work weaving woollen cloth, sewing clothes and washing laundry.
In 1869 John French started producing tweed fabric at Darling Mills,originally a flour mill. His son Alfred produced tweed at the Cumberland Woollen Mill, also originally a flour mill, from 1870.
This building was demolished in 1974.
In 1887 brothers William and J. H. Murray bought Darling Mill and renamed it the Paramatta Woollen Mill. They later bought the Cumberland Mill.
The business prospered. By 1900 they won a gold medal for uniforms they had made. They provided uniforms for troops serving in the Boer war, for water police and for hospital attendants. In 1911 they were taken over by the Sydney Woollen Mills which had been established in 1870. In 1975 the piece goods division was sold off, with the company in liquidation by 1984.
The World’s News, 10th October 1953. Part of the Sydney Woollen Mills.