Welcome to my blog exploring the history of buttons and button making within an Australian context. Buttons have been collected for centuries, and it’s no wonder. They are much more convenient to collect than tractors, and less smelly and dirty than old petrol cans! As well, the old advertising and merchandising can be quaint and amusing.
Seriously though, buttons are worth studying for many reasons. They range from the mundane and utilitarian to the purely fashionable and decorative. In value they vary from cheap and nasty to utterly expensive (diamond buttons anyone?). Buttons have been precious commodities; saved, recycled and passed down. They have been made of many differing materials by many different processes, reflecting historical changes in fashion, society, labour, industrial processes, trade, even the effects of politics and war. They have been stolen, labouriously hand-made, hoarded into valuable collections and begged from soldiers by school girls. Their manufacture could save a town troubled by unemployment and make some people wealthy. It could be dangerous, and by today’s standards, exploitive.
When I started to research Australian buttons, I found information scarce and scattered. There was a wealth of knowledge about the trade in America, Europe and Britain, but scarcely a mention of the once flourishing Australian industry. This is an attempt to uncover that histroy before it is lost.
At the moment I am not going to attempt to cover ‘studio’ buttons.
Please feel free to contribute stories and pictures of your own Australian-made beauties of any type!