“Googling” for Beutron and Beauclaire buttons, I came across images from old blogs and on Instagram. Apologies to all and sundry for “lifting” your images, although I think some of the blogs aren’t active, and I haven’t a clue about Instagram!! A couple were for sale online.
New uniform button:
Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (RAEME)
The Royal Corps of Australian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers is a corps of the Australian Army that has responsibility for the maintenance and recovery of all Army electrical and mechanical equipment. It was form in 1942 from the combined repair services of the Ordnanace and Service Corps. It was given the Royal prefix in 1948 His Majesty King George VI. On 1 December 2006, the last independent RAEME Workshop was disbanded. RAEME soldiers continue in their role to provide support through attachment to other units in Tech Support Troops, Sections or Platoons.
New KKK’s (Koala-Kangaroo-Kookaburras) thanks to Carol:
and also a new Landico:
New NSW Military Forces buttons: This one is made for W.Chorley of Sydney. There are also are backmarked Stokes & Martin, C. Anderson, Price & Co and David Jones.
A jar of assorted buttons and other stuff; is it worth buying? I can see one Woolworths card in there, but what else? Naughtily I peel the sticky tape away to unscrew the lid … I am hoping to buy it, not rob it! Aha, a partial card of Beutron tub buttons. Worth the money then. At home after sorting out the contents, I have gleened the buttons below. The Australian ones are at the top. There is also a several cute glass bottons sporting cats and a rooster, and a cuff-link that I’ll pass on to another collector.
New Embassy cards:
The cards with the rounded corners were the earliest to sport the ‘Embassy’ brand within the map of Australia. It would have resulted in waste cardboard and been more costly. Not surprisingly, the shape was later changed to a simple rectangle, although perversely, at the same time a waist was cut into the card to take the cotton, which also would have resulted in extra cost!
The Card at the right is unique in my collection, in that it has both the rounded corners and the added cotton. It must have been made just at the changeover of styling. It also has an added price sticker, as up until then the prices were not printed on the card. The cards below now have printed prices and the cotton. The card on the lower right shows the next step, with the words ” Guaranteed to Launder and Dry Clean” now included. The dating of these changes spans from 1959 until 1970.
Although I believe (due to the actual button designs) that General Plastics originally supplied both G.J. Coles (Embassy branding) and Woolworths with their branded buttons, by the time the cotton is added (if not before) they were being supplied by G.Herring. The cotton was a Beutron/Herring marketing feature dating from 1949. Beauclaire cards of buttons never included cotton, and only a few Leda cards dating from the 1960s did, by which time they were produced by Beutron.
New Leda cards:
The card on the left is the first example I have where the word ‘BOILPROOF’ is printed next to the Leda brand. Other cards are VARIOUSLY labelled FASHION BUTTONS, PERMALON, PERMALOID, and PERMALITE.
Wonderful new finds!
Beauclaire sample card: To think that one design was made in 3 sizes and 29 colours!! In case it’s hard to see, the darkest examples are not all black, but charcoal (170), dark charcoal (103), brown-grey (106), dark green (182) and dark brown (138). Number 173 is the actual black example.
Compared to the above sew-through buttons, these below are made of 4 parts: an aluminium (I think) shank, a possibly casein, dark green, mottled body into which is inserted a different plastic disk to mount the escutcheon to (see the example missing the escutcheon) and the metal escutcheon itself. They would have to be for a heavy winter coat, or the like, as they are quite substantial. They are approx 26mm in diametre and nearly 4 mm thick.
Here’s hoping I have given you a bad case of envy, as possibly encouraged you to try to collect as many shades/sizes of each design as you can.
Edinburgh Encyclopaedia (1808-1830). Button making continued:
To made metal buttons a mould was made by pressing a pattern for multiple buttons into sand. The shanks were pressed into the sand in the centre of each impression, then molten mixture of brass with tin and sometimes zinc was poured into the casting. When cooled, the sand was brushed off, and the individual buttons snapped apart. One workman would lathe the edges, another the backs, and another the front. This was followed by polishing with leather and “rotten stone” (a finely powdered porous rock) by women. Buttons were dipped into a solution containing tin to coat the buttons to “render the buttons white”.
Gilt buttons were formed by stamping out from sheet copper (sometimes alloyed with a small amount of zinc). The blanks were softened by heating in a furnace to allow the maker’s name to be stamped into the back, and also to make the face slightly convex. The shanks were then soldered on. After smoothing the edges the buttons were burnished smooth with “bloodstone” (an iron containing quartz) before gilding.
The prepared buttons were then placed in an earthernware pan containing a mixture of gold and mercury and nitric acid, then stirred until coated. The acid was washed away before the buttons were heated in a pan to melt the mercury amalgam. The hot buttons were now placed in a felt bag and stirred to spread the gold evenly before returning to the hot pan to evapourate the mercury. This process was repeated to drive off more mercury. The buttons now appeared yellow but required burnishing again with bloodstone and water in a lathe by three seperate men to do the edges, face and back. (Editor’s note: this division of labour, as well as powered tools, were the keys to England’s mastery of mass production during the industrial revolution.) Some buttons then had their edges milled, and/or circles milled upon their faces. “Double gilt buttons are gilt twice over, in the manner before described.“
As ” the drying off is exceedingly pernicious to the operator, as he inhales the vapour of the mercury, which is well known to be a violent poison” Mr. Mark Sanders, “an eminent button manufacturer of Birmingham” used the structure below for safely collecting the mercury vapour for reuse. I wonder if he was a relation of Benjamin Sanders?
The article further describes ‘plated buttons’ cut from copper plate pre-coated with silver on one side, and ‘cup-buttons’ “made from two pieces, viz. a common flat button with a shank, and a small hemisphere fixed on in front … the edge of the cup is burnished down over (the plain button) to hold it fast.” This sounds like what we now call a Sanders type button.
This encyclopaedia was published 1808-1830 by William Blackwood with editor Sir David Brewster in 18 volumes. It contained many scientific articles and included information on button manufacturing.
This machine is a foot operated treddle-powered lath for making button moulds.The cutting tool drilled a hole into the centre of a piece of bone or wood, whilst simultaneously cutting out the circumference of the mould. The article mentioned that at the time of printing moulds were only being used for fabric covered buttons to match the garments. “They were formerly covered with the most costly materials, by women, who were seated around a table, and each had a large needle fixed in the able opposite the part where she was seated, and also a bobin, containing thread to cover the button.” The thread could be silk, mohair or gold, and were woven over the mould in various patterns. Fancy examples were further ornamented by wire, or gold or silver covered threads. After singeing to removed projecting fibres, the buttons were polished by shaking in a bag of bread crumbs! The process of weaving around the moulds re illustrated below. ” … this art is now obsolete… many thousands (of patterns) in vogue thirty years since…”
The diagram below shows a press used for shaping horn buttons on the left. The contraption on the right is for drilling 4 holes into “sailors’ buttons”
Cow hoofs were softened in boiling water then cut into slices, then squares, then trimmed into octagons the size of the intended buttons. After dying and drying, they were pressed between the plates that held multiple dies containing the impression of the button design. The plates were heated in a furnace before the pieces of horn were placed in it then held under great pressure in the vice shown below, until the horn was pressed into the desired pattern.
When cooled, the buttons required trimming and smoothing. If the buttons required shanks, these were fitted by children, who drilled holes in the horn before they were pressed and theninserted the shanks.
The contraption on the bottom right of the above diagram of the horn press is for making brass or iron wire shanks. The wire is wound around a steel rod (A) to make a coil (B) into which the pin (C) is inserted. Placed in an anvil, the coil is punched down between the prongs of (C) to make a figure eight (Shown at D). By cutting apart the two loops, two shanks are formed. Simple! However, the encyclopedia noted that a new steam driven machine could be fed with wire, and with each turn of a winch produced a shaped and cut shank … “the motion is so easy that a boy can drive one machine.”
To read more of the very detailed article in this part of the encyclopaedia: