10th July 2018

Cam Smith has found a tailor’s buttons:

Merchant shipping company uniform button: Howard Smith Line

Back mark: O’Neill & Co Sydney

Michael O’Neill was a master tailor in Sydney. In 1843 he moved to King Street then in 1844 to Bridge Street.  In 1847 he was planning to leave Sydney due to ill health, but if so, he soon returned as he advertised as he recommenced business in 1848. He advertised as “M. O’Neill & Co., Outfitters and Tailors” at 555 George Street (opposite Bridge Street)  until 1855, and died in 1856.

From 1853 there was advertised the tailors “O’Neill & Ross”  then later “O’Neill & Co” in Lower George Street. This was James O’Neill, possibly a relative (?son). There is a connection with the O’Neill’s of Maitland, New South wales, where another James O’Neill  ran a draper’s store in the 1860s.

According to the Australian National Maritime Museum:

“Howard Smith Limited was established in 1854 by Captain William Howard Smith, who began transporting both people and supplies to the goldfields. Originally founded as William Howard Smith and Sons Pty Ltd, the company became Howard Smith Company Ltd in 1901 and in 1914 changed to Howard Smith Limited. The company has interests in distribution of hardware, towage and safety. According to deListed Howard Smith Ltd. was delisted from the Australian Stock Exchange on 17 October 2001 because it was taken over (compulsory) by Wesfarmers Retail Pty Ltd.”

It is therefore likely that the button came from the business belonging to James, but possibly Michael.

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