Whilst most of Melbourne is getting excited about the footy, I’m more excited about my lastest deliveries of Australian and New Zealand buttons!
And now, just for a laugh…..
A while ago I was contacted by Michael Thompson with an A.Hordern & Sons copper button that had been dug up. He has now kindly sent an image of the button in question.
He also told me that a similar button had been unearthed from a WW1 site near Frommelles. I’m guessing that this is the button being referred to.
As you can see, it is referred to as a braces button, used by soldiers to keep their trousers up. The photo below from the Australian War Memorial’s collection clearly shows the braces buttons on this WW1 era soldier’s breeches.
Apparently this type of button turns up frequently on the goldfields, so this button may have been made over a long period and cannot be dated accurately.
Recently I shared a Myers Emporium advert showing hats trimmed with buttons. This piqued my interest as my mother was a milliner back in the day. I don’t know if this was a common trimming, but I did manage to find some other examples.
In 1873 The New Zealand Clothing Factory was established in Dunedin to supply the Hallenstein Brothers clothing stores. By 1900 there were 30 “HB” clothing stores across the country. A grand new headquarters was built in 1882-3 which housed up to 300 employees. The opening was celebrated with a ball for 500-600 people. The company continues today, but now most of the clothing is made in China.
As the above newspaper article outlines, the factory manufactured military uniforms. I have just received NZ artillery buttons, including these 2 from the New Zealand Clothing Factory.
According to the Smithsonian, the fashion of “pink for girls and blue for boys” has waxed and waned and even reversed throughout the last century, only settling on the current status in the 1940-50’s as a marketing tool. Having said that, I can remember in Louisa May Alcott’s ‘Little Women’ from 1869 that when Meg had twins they were dressed to tell them apart with pink and blue in “french fashion”. Be that as it may be, the Beauclaire buttons below are gorgeous!
I’ve gradually built up a collection of the below style from Beauclaire. Interestingly, I’ve also received some glass buttons that are very similar (although not the same) in style. Coincidence or copied?
So much to tell, where to start? Perhaps with Mr Elijah Thomas, tailor and outfitter of Grey Street, St Kilda. According to this information http://www.historyaustralia.org.au/ifhaa/bios/elijah.htm He came from England around 1900. Three generations of his family operated E.Thomas Pty. Ltd. Mercers and Mens Ware from then until 1980.
Now; the Wiseman Bros. In the 1880’s Albert and Walter ran a business in Flinders Lane, Melbourne, as softgoods warehousemen. Along with their brother Arthur, they were well regarded as philanthropists.
Now things in 3’s!! Three cards, 3 red buttons, 3 ducks and 3 Beutron buttons.
And some English made MOP buttons sold by Farmer & Company in Sydney.
Buttonfest 2016 is coming up next month. Very exciting; I’ve been preparing some displays along this year’s theme of animals and birds depicted on buttons. Here’s a preview of a display of Beauclaire animals, including a new trio sent to me by Leah.
Over the last week I’ve received buttons and buckles to add to the collection.
These 2 buttons have a metallised centre set in a clear plastic surround with a molded zig-zag pattern.
I have received 2 cards of modern MOP buttons from Broome. This prompted me to revisit the history of this industry, and remember how dangerous and lucrative it once was, how things have changed and how plastic has almost completely taken over.
A collection of modern and vintage pearl-shell buttons, showing how the shell could be carved and dyed, as well as combined with other materials (here, glass and plastic). Real MOP buttons are still in production, but for the most part have been replaced by the cheaper, more wash resistant pearl-like plastic (like the 1960’s examples here from Woolworths and Embassy). The story below explains how it was possible to colour your own MOP buttons.
The ‘Button Gods’ have delivered me buttons from within a decade to over 100 years old.
I now have my own NSW Mounted Rifles button dating from 1892-1901 (QV crown) in beautiful condition. I don’t have to be jealous of Carol anymore! Just love the spotty leopard head. This may have been the buttons worn by the troops going to the Boer Wars. It is my first button by Charles Anderson. The Paramatta Woollen Mills also made similar buttons. I spotted this picture on a military sales web page, but unfortunately it is out of stock. For interest I have included below a newspaper report of C.Anderson and the Mills both winning a tender for military uniforms, including for the Mounted Rifles. For for about the Parramatta Woollen Mils see http://arc.parracity.nsw.gov.au/blog/2015/11/17/parramatta-woollen-mills/
Leah keeps tempting me with vintage Australian buttons. It’s not fair. I’ll run out of money.