and with a similar style but some type of ceramic…
It is some kind of glazed and fired material, but softer than ceramic as I can scratch a white powder from the unglazed section of the shank. Could it be an example of the Melbourne made buttons described below? It was sourced from a Melbourne button dealer.
A query as to whether this set of buttons (found in Idaho) was of Australian origin came our way. For the record, I don’t think it is, as the construction (celluloid with embedded steel loop shank) is not something I have seen made by any Australian manufacturer. However, the set is fascinating. The card they were sewn on was labelled as “Allied Forces of WWII” and depicts the USA, Britain, China, Australia and Russia. This dates the buttons as 1941 or after, as that is when Russia joined the Allies.
It made me wonder about the use of the ‘boxing kangaroo’ as an Australian mascot, so I did some research:
The first boxing kangaroo of fame was named Jack and trained by ‘Professor Richard Von Lindermann’.
Punch, 16th April 1891.
They performed in shows around Australia from 1891 and then traveled to London in 1892 where they were a great success. Jack died there in 1896, having made his trainer a lot of money. Later boxing kangaroos included two called ‘Peter Jackson” in 1897 and1908, ‘Aussie’ from Adelaide trained by Lindsay Fahre around 1926-9, ‘Chut’ trained by Harry Abdy who appeared in the film “Orphan of the Wilderness” in 1936 and ‘Peter the great’ who performed around America in 1940. “Peter the Great’ was not the first boxing kangaroo to travel to the States. The first reference I found was in 1893. Photos, illustrations and cartoons of boxing kangaroos had been published since 1891, so the imagery was well known by WW2.
A Cartoon in Punch (Melbourne) 26th December 1895. The “Boxing Kangaroo” is telling off Britain and America as they squabble over a disputed border of Venesula.
The Australasian, 30th December 1911. “Parramatta” was a mascot aboard an Australian destroyer.
In 2015 Robyn Caddy, a fellow Button Cub member wrote an interesting story about a ‘Water Police’ button in the collection of the Police Museum. At that time some questions remained about this button, so I took a look into the story.
The backmark is MASON & CULLEY WILLIAMS TOWN. The partnership lasted only from the 1st July 1852 until the 1st November 1854 when they were described as Auctioneers and General Dealers. It is not clear as to whether the above button was actually produced commerically, or is a prototype made to show the customer. It is not known who produced the button. If it was not Thomas Stokes (who started his die-sinking business in Melbourne in 1854), it would have likely been British in origin.
This portrait of Thomas Mason hangs in the Williamstown council chambers.
Thomas Mason (1823-1896) came to the colony in 1841. He was one of Melbourne’s earliest Justice of the Peace and would become Williamstown’s first mayor.
(Article from the Williamstown Chronicle, 25th August 1883)
Benjamin Culley was born in Norfolk, England in 1824 and came to the colony in 1848. He left Williamstown in 1860-61. He ran stores in Talbot, Amherst, Talbot, Albury then Urana. Until his 94th year he was still in business! He died at Urana in 1921 at the age of 96 years. I haven’t been able to find an image of him.
Both these cards are something new. The tub buttons (a name from the 1940s) is on a card approx 6.4x9cm rather than 18x12cm for all the others I have so labelled. The design is new, as well. The back printing is completely different: ” high fashion at low cost. Introduced at popular request, Beutron Tub Buttons are moulded from selected materials. New and attractive designs are featured that will add so much to fashions and fabrics. treat then as you would your fine materials – they will then retain their factory fresh look even after many launderings.”
The card below features black glass buttons with a lovely silver finish. But look at the price; 4 shillings! Buttons on ‘All Purpose’ cards usually cost 1, or 1 and 3, shillings. These were expensive buttons!
Below I have compared one of the above grey buttons with a green “Lovely Lady’ (General Plastics) button. The material and size are similar, as are the daisies. Could this be another brand of buttons produced by General Plastics?