PLEASE NOTE THAT THE NEW ADDRESS OF THIS BLOG IS austbuttonhistory.com
Many of the Leda buttons I received in my last batch were clearly a different plastic to the casein types so commonly used by General Plastics and G.Herring in the 1940s-1950s. I don’t often ‘hot needle’ test my buttons due to the damage done to the buttons, but I decided to ‘sacrifice’ a spare button to science. Using http://www.thebuttonmonger.com/content/button_identifying.pdf as a reference, and other websites, I decided they were polymethyl metyacrylate, better known by the trade names of Lucite, Perspex, Plexiglas, Acrylite, and others, but more easily referred to just as ‘acrylic’.
Developed in the 1920s and first marketed in the 1930s by several companies, it would be widely used during WW2 for airplane turrets, windscreen and the like. Du Pont had licensed this new product to jewellery manufacturers early on, which is why the name Lucite (their trade name) is used generically for acrylic buttons. It proved a valuable and flexible product, highly suitable for the manufacture of jewellery, beads, buttons and many other products. Although Naturally clear, it could be coloured, clear, translucent or opaque. It was lighter than glass, strong, and did not yellow with age. Its peak popularity was post WW2 into the 1960s, although it is still used. Vintage plastics with embedded glitter or other objects are usually acrylic. My buttons are the ‘Moonstone’ acrylic variety, with a slightly greasy feel and a glossy, glowing, variable colour tone.
The definition varies somewhat between collectors and also by museums/libraries. However, it basically refers to printed/written (mostly) paper products that were meant to be used once, or for one purpose, then thrown away. Examples include newspapers, advertising fliers, movie posters, menus and ticket stubs. I think that vintage cards of buttons come close to that definition. The cards certainly were not meant to be treasured. Once the buttons were used, they were to be thrown out. The buttons don’t classify, even though now-a-days they are mostly thrown out with the clothing!
I got to thinking about this as I received a lot of dusty and less than pristine cards of buttons. It occurred to me that they were bought for a purpose, but not stored with any care …. just like ephemera, they were not meant to be valued or stored beyond their function. Certainly, they were not intended to be collected as examples of manufacturing history!
So be warned, the cards I’m going to share are scruffy!
Andrew sent me a query about the buttons he found in the Atherton Tablelands. They are typical trouser buttons. Two have “Ask for Crowns” on them.
I think I have the answer! From 1867 until 1910 “Crown Brand” moleskin trousers, “the best Mole (sic) in the world”, were imported from England for sale in Australia. They were supplied to back country Queensland.
Please note the new address of this blog: austbuttonhistory.com
More buttons from Carol’s collection: Australian Lighthouse Service
The Commonwealth took over control from the States of the service from 1913-1915. Its role was to maintain navigational aids, light house maintenance and to transport families and supplies to and from lighthouses. A uniform from the crew of one of the ships used by the service is below, care of the Commonwealth Lighthouse Service Museum webpage: https://mvcapedonsociety.org.au/museum.html
Correction for yesterday’s button: Adelaide Steamship Company
Thanks to Don for the identification. Sure enough, the Australian National Maritime Museum has an example online …
According to Wikipedia, it was formed as a cargo and passenger company between Melbourne and Adelaide in 1875. In the 1930-40s it diversified, including the formation of Adelaide Airways in 1935, which was one of the founding airlines that merged to form Australian National Airways (ANA) in 1936. The company was liquidated in 1997.