Author Archives: abuttonadmin

26th January 2020

The Evolution of Australia Day.

Celebration in the colonies:

Around the colonies that would eventually become the nation of Australia, the practice of patriotic celebration varied. Not surprisingly, “Anniversary Day” was celebrated from early in the history of New South Wales. For example, it was reported that on the 26th January 1826 “upwards of 90 gentlemen dined together, that being the anniversary day of the founding of the Colony. At noon of the same day thirty-eight guns from the Fort announced the number of years the Colony had been in existence.” (1)

In West Australia, Anniversary Day (later Foundation Day) was celebrated on the 4th June to celebrate the day in 1829 when Captain Charles Freemantle annexed the territory to the Crown.

From 1851 Separation Day was celebrated annually on 1st July in Victoria to commemorate the formal separation of the colony from New South Wales, until supplanted by Federation in 1901. The 11th November was also celebrated, being the day news reached the colony of the Act of British Parliament that enabled separation.

In the 1850s ‘Moreton Bay Anniversary Day’ celebrated its discovery. Now, Queensland Day is celebrated on the 6th June, as the anniversary of the day in 1859 Queen Victoria gave consent to the establishment of a colony at Moreton Bay separate from that of New South Wales. (However, in 1860 there  formal celebration of Queensland Anniversary Day  occurred on the 10th December on the anniversary of Governor Bowen arriving in Brisbane for a civic reception.)

The colony of Tasmania did not seem to celebrate a local day, possibly because it became self-governing in stages from 1851 to 1856.

South Australia celebrated Foundation day on the 28th December, to commemorate the proclamation of the Colony in 1836.

Empire Day:

In 1911 trouble was brewing. The New South Wales Roman Catholics were suggesting that the celebration of Empire Day on the 24th May be replaced by a celebration of Australia Day. (Empire Day had been celebrated in Australia on that date for 10 years.) In reply, the Dean of Newcastle stated that “this was nothing more than a subtle attack on the connection between Australia and the Mother Land. Bad indeed would it be for Australia if they ever forgot that their forefathers came from the womb of the Motherland.” (2) None-the-less, the Roman Catholics celebrated the first Australia Day in their schools on the 24th May in 1911, and continued this for the next 3 years. The discussion around the need for a national day was becoming hijacked by sectarianism. In 1912 the newspaper The Catholic Press declared that “it is, indeed, curious … that Australians who desire to honour their own flag should be taunted with disloyalty to the Empire … Empire Day and its toadyism, and that servile spirit which was undoubtedly born in the chains that rattled the first salute to the Union Jack on the shores of Port Jackson, are giving way to a clean and healthy Australian patriotism …” (3)  Others argued that there was no need for an ‘either-or’ approach, that celebration of both Empire Day and Australia Day had value.

Towards Federation:

The movement toward federation inspired discussion around which would be a suitable date to hold a national holiday. In 1885 the Australian Natives Association lobbied that Foundation Day (January 26th) should be chosen for a Federation Day holiday. (4) Indeed, it was observed as a public holiday (or bank holiday) in some colonies during the nineteenth century. However, in South Australia, this did not occur until the 30th January 1911. (5)

The question arose as to which was the most appropriate date; 26th January (Anniversary Day, 18th January (Captain Phillip’s arrival in Botany Bay), or the 28th April? (the date of the landing of Captain Cook) (6) Some thought Anniversary day “unsavoury”; that the anniversary of the “foundation of a nation by of overseas convicts is scarcely a fitting subject for enthusiasm.” (7) The birthday’s of Queen Victoria or King Edward VII were both seen as possibilities, however “the main thing to be considered … is the sentiment behind the day, not the day itself”. (7) Another date mooted was August 23rd, the day Captain Cook took possession of the land. (8) Federation Day (Jan 1st) was also seen as a fitting date. (9) A writer in 1875 thought the discovery of gold in New South Wales (12th February 1851) a fitting day for a national celebration! (10)

The first nationally recognised Australia Day occurred as a patriotic fund raiser under the cloud of war on the 30th July 1915. It was repeated on 28th July 1916 and in July/August in 1917 and 1918. With the end of the war, this fundraising day was suspended.

In 1919 a three-day-long celebration of Australia Day was held from 25-27th January in New South Wales and an Australia Day thanksgiving service was held on London on the 26th. However, the New South Wales Catholics were again celebrating it on Empire Day in May.(11)

It wasn’t until 17th May 1936 that January 26th was gazetted in Canberra as Australia Day. It was at that time still known as Anniversary Day in Sydney and Foundation Day elsewhere. (12). Less than two years later the first “Mourning Day” conference was held by the Aborigines Protection Association to “mourn over the frightful conditions under which aborigines have existed and are existing today on this continent which once belonged to our forefathers.” (13)


1. The Australian 2nd Feb 1826 p.3

2: The Richmond River Herald and Northern Districts Advertiser 10 Feb 1911 p.2

3. The Catholic Press 25 April 1912 p.28

4. The Ballarat Star 24th Dec 1885 p.3

5. The Pioneer 28 Jan 1911 p.3

6. Evening News 1 June 1912 p.7

7. Barrier Miner 1 June 1911 p.2

8. The Gundagai Independent and Pastoral, Agricultural and Mining Advocate 27 May 1911 p.2

9. Canowindra Star and Eugowra News 2 June 1911

10. The Herald 13th Feb 1875 p.2

11. Freeman’s Journal 22 May 1919 p.15

12. Northern Standard 19 May 1936 p.10

13. The Canberra Times 27th Jan 1938 p.1



25th January 2020

Branded buttons, old and new:

Peter Alexander:

Peter started designing sleepwear in 1987, selling through department stores and boutiques. By 1989 he was dubbed “The Pyjama King” and becoming a celebrity brand. A cancelled order in 1990 pushed him into mail order then online sales. In 2000 he joined “The Just Group” retail firm and four years later opened the first stand alone store. By 2016 there were 100 stores.

M. E. L. Australia:

A women’s fashion brand since 1996, based in Richmond.

Purely Australian Clothing Company:

Producing workwear and uniforms, promotional products and accessories for over twenty years. They also produce Australiana fashion garments.

Perri Cutten:

From a feature article in a 1982 Australian Women’s Weekly”.

Perri Cutten founded this company in 1981 in Melbourne after working for other fashion houses.. Her clothing has been sold in stand alone stores as well as department stores and online.


Peter Jackson

Peter Jackson (from the company website) 1928-2008.

In their Little Bourke Street barbershop siblings Olga, Herbert Peter and David Jackson started to sell neckties, gradually extending into tailored menswear. In 1976 the company failed, with Peter moving to Queensland and painting houses. This siblings revived the business with David’s son Paul Jackson as the new managing director, and in 1993 Peter returned to the company. The company is still in family hands (Paul and sons David and Nicholas) with more than 60 stores Australia wide. The ad vertisement below is from The Argus, 14th January 1957.



23rd January 2020

Deborah has pointed out a 1952  Australian  Government manufacturing report. In passing it noted that …

Uniform Button:

State Emergency Service Victoria by A. J. Parkes.

The  Victoria SES has its roots in the volunteer Civil Defence Organisation set up in 1950, to mobilise rapidly in the event of war.  It was renamed in 1975 as the State Emergency Services, and has been involved in most major emergencies since 1950. It is an independent statuary body answerable to the State Minister for Emergency Services. “We are the control agency for flood, storm, tsunami, earthquake and landslide throughout Victoria, and provide the largest road rescue network in Australia, with specialist teams in 102 of our 149 units across the state. “


Government uniform button with George VI cypher, Stokes and Sons.







George VI reigned from 1936 after the abdication of his brother, until his early death in 1952.

Freemantle Harbour Trust:

From the old Sheridan site in Perth; an unfinished Freemantle Harbour Trust button.

22nd January 2020

Seen online (but lost out on the bidding):

This is an example of the Beauclaire Rose appear on a pre-Beauclaire card!

The brand name Beauclaire does not appear in print until 1951. Before this time, cards of buttons appeared with the border as seen above. Some of these cards were labelled “A G.P. Product.” This design was one of their most popular, presumably, as it appeared in many variations right up into the 1980s.

The ‘special diamente assemby’ was patented in 1953 according to the gold sticker.

Close up of individual button.

Close up of individual button.

21st January 2020

A couple of posts ago, I was trying to make sense of which firms were distributors verses manufacturers. Why?

Well, firstly, a definition:


Definition of Distributor

As the name suggests, the distributor is an agent who distributes products and services to various parties in the supply chain network. It is impossible for the manufacturer to reach customers directly for selling products and services, and for this purpose, they have to rely on middle agents or distributors, who exclusively store and sell the company’s products, in different locations.

The distributor is also known as channel partner who deals with the manufacturers to promote and sell their products and services to various customers, such as retailers or final consumers. To do so, the distributor enters into an agreement with the producer and purchase the right to sell the producer’s product. However, he cannot use the producer’s trade name.

Distributors purchase non-competing goods or product lines from different manufacturers, hold stock in warehouses, transport it to various locations and resell it to various parties.


Therefore, each distributor would only accept buttons from one manufacturer (i.e. non-competing products). They may have exclusive rights to distribute a company’s products. They may have a contract that allows them to sell the buttons under the manufacturers name, or  under their own name. That is why we get Demetre, Coronet, Roger Berry, Terries, etc buttons. In trying to understand the industry in Australia, I have had to grapple with who was what!

The advert below indicates that along with other products, E. Walker & Son distributed and marketed Delphi buttons. (although they incorrectly  spelt the name DEPHI and DEPHHI):

Windsor and Richmond Gazette 14th August 1957.

This still does not explain as to whether Delphi was the brand of a manufacturer or not. Were these buttons made here, or imported (apart from the glass buttons on Walker cards, which must have been imported)? Were the buttons made by G.Herring, General Plastics or some other as yet undetermined manufacturer?

Certainly, the Delphi buttons look much like  Beutron Opal-glow buttons or Beauclaire Moonglow buttons of the era. I own a box labelled “Beauclaire Delphi Buttons” which indicates that they were either 1. always made by General Plastics or 2. if Delphi had been a separate company, it had been taken over. The fact that the name Delphi disappears in 1957, the very year that Beutron Australia bought out General Plastics would seem to indicate that in 1957 Delphi (along with Leda) were brands of General Plastics. So far I have not seen a reference to back up my hunch.

Carol’s new find:



20th January 2020

New uniform buttons:

Royal Sydney Golf Club by Amor Sydney:

Club logo.

According to the club’s website ( the first club house consisted of a couple of rented rooms in a cottage. The second clubhouse was built in 1897. It was at the official opening of this facility that it was announced that the club had been allowed the prefix “Royal” by Queen Victoria. The third club house was built on the site of the current facility in 1903 but burnt down in 1920.

By 1919 the membership numbered almost 1,500. After the fire a larger building was built and opened in July 1922. Further renovations have been necessary due to a further fire, but also to increased membership.

First tee, 1960s.New South Wales Artillery Button marked “T. L. Nicholson, Sydney”
Thanks to Cam Smith.  Dates 1871-1880 according to Cossum (however Nicholson may not have been making uniforms until 1879).






A card describing the uniform that the button would have graced.

Cumberland Mercury, 3rd May 1879. He did not advertise as a tailor before 1879.

As can be seen from the above advert, Mr Thomas Lovedale Nicholson( 1831-1891) was a  Naval, military and civil tailor in Kings Street. He was born in Paramatta who had been “a bit of a bohemian” before joining the Independant Order of Good Templars (a temperance organisation) around 1877 and straightening himself out. This lodge seems to have been politically active. Tom became an alderman then mayor of Ashfield. Perhaps it was the influence of the Order that secured him large government contracts. He had a large family of 13 children (11 who were alive in 1881) and had been a keen cricketer.

He had a mixed career as a business man. In he a failed foray into mining. In 1867, as a cordial manufacturer in Dubbo, he was insolvent. Back in Sydney by 1875 as a tailor he was again insolvent in 1876, then again in 1884. He died 21st July, 1891.

The Bulletin, 11th June 1881.


19th January 2020

Gorgeous vintage American MOP cards:

Unusually, 3 buttons are sewn on, but 4 are stapled on.

The back of the card shows sizes available with suggested uses. Note the term ‘waists’. A waist was blouse with a drawstring at the waist that could be drawn in to create a loose puffiness to the garment. (And a blouse is a loose fitting shirt without shirt tails worn by younger boys, girls and women.) Washington proudly declares that it is the Cleanest City in Iowa.




18th January 2020

New finds:

American Styled:


Cygnet cards don’t turn up too often. Below is an enlargement of a blue version of this design.

The design is significant, as it is also found on a Roger Berry card. Note that Roger Berry were distributors of buttons rather than manufacturers. Either ‘Cygnet’ was  branding used by the actual manufacturer of the buttons (?O.C.Rheuben), or it was yet another distribution firm. I have noted that Cygnet had an identical buckle one sold by Walker, and that Walker also was associated with Delphi. Further, Delphi got swallowed by Beauclaire. Very confusing. Perhaps Cygnet/Delphi/Walkers were all distributors rather than manufacturers.  Perhaps they all distributed for General Plastics (and its predecessors) with some takeovers happening. General Plastics started to distribute buttons under their own name from the 1940s, so perhaps they had shares in some of the distributors?







17th January 2020

Animals on buttons:

Animals have long adorned buttons, perhaps from as early as the late 17th century with early picture buttons, but certainly from the 18th century.. They appear on picture, fable, habitat, uniform and hunt buttons, and from the late 1930s, as figural buttons. These latter weren’t just for children, either. Such was the mania for figural ( a.k.a. realistist/goofiy) buttons that they were fashion items for adults, too. Here are some wonderful buttons from carol’s collections. They date from the late 1930s through to the 1950s. Many appear to be cut from sheets of casein or catalin plastic.