This company started in 1940. It advertised for tradesmen and factory workers, producing products such as cigarette cases and buttons and was located at 144 Mallett St, Camperdown, NSW.
In 1942 a plastic products company, Datar Products, was started.
Wise’s Post Office Directory, April 1942. It changed ownership to Bernard Jackson in 1943.
By 1946 it had moved to the same address as British Novelties, and was making button blanks.
Wise’s Post Office Directory, 1948.
In 1953 the owner of Datar Products was applying for British Novelties to be wound up. What had happened? Had British Novelties collapsed? Had Datar been providing button blanks for British Novelties, and not paid? Had the two companies simply merged. There were problems, as there were law hearings related to equity (whatever that means) in the District Court of NSW. I have not found out how long Datar existed for.
The card has the ‘G. Herring’ trademark in the top corner. This button was advertised during 1937.
Australian Women’s weekly, 9th October 1937
In 1937 G. Herring & Co. Ltd were advertising for an agent for overseas buttons and buckles.
Published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 29th June 1937.
This may have been the start of the company’s focus on buttons, at least as an importer. They would also start to make pearl buttons around this time. The butterfly button above is therefore an early example from this company; possibly imported.
Manufacturing buttons can be dangerous. Factories could be dangerous both due to the machinery used, and the flammable nature of some of the products used, especially celluloid. Many factories were multi-story, so that people could be trapped on upper floors, especially when fire doors were locked! In 1860 a girl was killed when her dress was caught in machinery at a Sheffield button factory. In 1861 a steam boiler exploded, with one death and several injuries. In 1874 a girl got her hair caught in a machine. In 1910 three girls were burnt to death at a Birmingham celluloid button factory. In 1912 several girls were “hurled many yards” when a boiler exploded, luckily without major injury. In 1918 twenty girls perished in a blaze at a Newark, New Jersey, button factory. In 1923 eleven lives were lost, with another eight injuries in a celluloid button factory fire in Buda-Pest. The same year a gas explosion and fire at Wyeth, Besemeres & Co’s button and bottle-seal factory in Melbourne occurred, but without injury.
In 1951 a three storey Plastic Button factory was destroyed by fire in Melbourne, causing £15,000 damage and in 1952 the John Bowden Plastic Button Pty Ltd was burnt with £50,000 in estimated damages.
Luckily no lives were lost in this fire in Sydney:
Unfortunately, there was a further fire there the following year with two minor injuries. A new factory was built in Willoughby, Sydney, in 1954.
An explosion and fire that started in accumulated plastic dust at the General Plastics (NZ) ltd factory in April 1965 was lucky to only cause 4 deaths and 6 injuries, as had it not occurred during a break up to 400 may have been in the area affected.
Factories were not safe from robbery, either. In 1935 safe-crackers stole £26 from O. C. Reuben & Co. in South Yarra. In 1945 an account of G. Herring’s was found to have helped himself to over £1000 worth of stock in order to start his own business.
I’ve just added a new Coronet button to my card of these lovely, glossy casein buttons. Most here are circular impressed designs, some with hand=painted detailing. They also made novelty designs such as the grey leaf:
Maxart and Travalon:
Received some tubes of mixed buttons, but only 4 still had the original button on the lid to link them to the manufacturer:
In order clockwise from top left: Beauclaire, Beutron, Beauclaire, Beutron and Coronet.
We are all missing out usual get togethers. However, it is a perfect time to Spring clean, sort and card our buttons, or any other treasures. Consider sending a button “care pack” to your fellow collectors; even if the buttons aren’t ‘needed’, it will be a lovely surprise, and can be shared with other collectors. Check out online resources. The Victorian Button Collectors have all their old magazines online. So does the National Button Society. The British Button Society has an archives (? of its magazines, this is not stated). It may be worth a years subscription to you to access these resources.
“Carding” was very poorly paid work, often undertaken by poor women and their children. Many writers railing against sweated labour mentioned the state of these worker in Birmingham, America, and here in Australia.
The Worker, 22nd February 1912.
Daily Standard, 14th September 1914.
None the less, some were glad for the work.
Daily Herald, 27th November 1914. This is regarding workers in Britain during the war.
Some put a positive spin on the underpayment of women, but not all.
The Daily Telegraph, 10th Nov 1949.
Australian Women’s Weekly, 330th December 1964.
Published in the Tribune (Sydney), 9th August 1945.