Some tailoring firms and department stores/retailers that supplied military, naval and public service uniforms were previously listed here. However, they did not manufacture their own buttons, but sourced them from firms that did, including British firms. Apparently, if they ordered a sufficient quantity of buttons they could have their own name as the backmark, rather than the button makers’ name. Therefore, these examples are now listed on the Tailors and Department store pages.
A.J.Parkes & Co, Brisbane:
Established in 1896 as a medallion, medal, uniform button and badges manufacturer. Mr Arthur James Parkes (c. 1867- 6th May 1950) was an experienced die-sinker from London.
Austral Pearl Company:
The Fink’s Building was built on the corner of Flinders and Elizabeth Streets in 1880. A fire destroyed it in 1897. It was rebuilt, but finally demolished. What a shame.
F. Burmeister, Adelaide:
This article appeared in The Express and Telegraph on 10th October 1885. Has anyone seen South Australian Volunteers buttons of this era?
In 1884 Bertram & Cornish had bought the ‘Monster Clothing establishment’ from G. & R. Wills and Company, who were major softgoods wholesalers in Adelaide from 1849. Frederick Frances Burmeister started as an engraver around 1879 in Adelaide, later adding printing to his business. He was born in Norwood, South Australia in 1858 and died in 1929. He was an exhibted artist and had been involved with with the “first coloured moving picture in the world” that toured South Australian towns in 1895.
Gustav Adolph Carlberg (Miller), despite being quoted by the company he started as Swedish born, was actually born in Sydney in 1879 to Swedish parents! He was apprenticed to W. J. Amor (see below) before joining a Mr Morris in 1900 in partnership as badge and medallion makers ‘Miller and Morris’, which became ‘Miller and Sons’ in 1910. A tender was accepted in 1906 (along with Stokes & Sons) to supply military uniform buttons. Gustav died in Sydney on the 9th January 1947. It continues today as G. A. Millers.
James McBean & Son, Melbourne, were primarily retailers, but also produced their own jewellery, their mark being ‘J.McB & SON’. The article below came from a silversmith website, but originated in 1904.
“This well known firm was established in 1858 by Mr James McBean, the father of the present proprietor. Mr McBean who is still living, is one of the oldest identities in Melbourne, and was actively engaged in business until 1890, a period of forty years. During that time, although he took no part in public matters, the name of McBean became well and favourably known over almost all of Australasia, and the firm has a splendid reputation, not only in Victoria, but in the other States. Mr. JAMES McBEAN was born in Inverness, Scotland, in the year 1833. He served his apprenticeship as a watchmaker and jeweller in his native town, and then determined to seek his fortune in Australia. On arriving in Melbourne he saw the immense possibilities which awaited the jewellery trade, and established himself in his old business in premises directly opposite the present establishment in Elizabeth Street, on the site now occupied by Messrs McLean Brothers & Rigg. Comenceing on a very modest scale, Mr McBean gradually worked up a splendid connection. Business rapidly increased and it became necessary to remove to larger premises. Since 1894 operations have been carried on in the splendidly situated establishment in ‘The Block’, Elizabeth Street. The large and elegently fitted shop, with its two spacious window frontages, one facing Elizabeth Street, and the other ‘The Block’, is one of the sights of Melbourne. A most noticeable feature is the splendid assortment of high-class articles, representing the most artistic efforts of the gold and silversmiths’ art, which are displayed with lavish profusion. A large quantity of the jewellery is manufactured by the firm, and compares very favourably with anything which can be turned out in England. In 1890 Mr. James McBean retired and handed over the business to his son, Mr William McBean who had been associated with him for twenty years. The thorough and practical training which he received during that time has proved of great benefit, both to himself and his clients. An Inspection of the superior class of stock and its great variety will convince anyone that the present proprietor is bent on maintaining the old traditions of the house, and also in keeping well abreast of the times. Mr. WILLIAM McBEAN was born in Melbourne in 1858, and, although only forty-three years of age, has been in the trade for thirty-two years, having acquired a thorough knowledge of every branch of the business. Although a very busy man, Mr. McBean finds time to devote a good deal of time and energy to the interests of the Melbourne Cricket Club. He has been a valued member of the committee for five years, and was also one of the committee of management who had the English team of 1901 in hand.”
James McBean and Son’s Premises, Elizabeth Street, Melbourne.
Source: The Cyclopedia of Victoria: An Historical and Commercial Review, Descriptive and Biographical, Facts, Figures and Illustrations : An Epitome of Progress. – Volume 2 – 1904
Mr McBean senior died in 1916. In April 1927 the business was moving to 3 The Block, but only 4 months later the business was insolvent. Having failed to be sold as a going business, the entire stock and fitting were being sold by auction.
G. W. N. Hamilton, Melbourne:
George William Nathaniel Hamilton(1848-1931) was known for his Emu Egg trophies! He was in partnership with Edmond Soutter from around 1873-187. Has anyone any example of his buttons?
Kangaroo Office, Melbourne:
In 1854 the first private mint in Australia was set up in Franklin Street West, Melbourne, by some British entrepreneurs. Unfortunately it was a business failure. The gentleman running the business for them in Melbourne, Thomas Scaife, started to produce military buttons, then later copper tokens and medals to try to salvage the venture. He left the colony in 1859, having sold the coin and button press to Thomas Stokes in 1857. A photo of the press can be seen on the Thomas Stokes’ page in this blog.
Parsons, Thompson, and Co, Sydney:
Here’s a nice little story from the Sydney Morning Herald, 10th February, 1881.
The Mr Parsons referred to was probably Charles Tilbury Parsons, a skilled wood worker and businessman who ran a mill is Sydney before moving to Gosford.
Presumably this is why the firm was renamed as Messrs. Thompson & Co. It traded in Victoria as well.
P. J. King Pty. Ltd., Melbourne:
Percy John King (1870-1933) established a partnership with Charles Bridgland in 1893. ‘Bridgland & King’ did engraving, die sinking and rubber stamp making. From 1899 Percy continued the business alone. A rival company started in Melbourne in 1903 using the name ‘Bridgland & King’ even though they were not associated with Percy.
(The above button was probably made by the rival firm.)
Percy set up a new business, P. J. King Pty Ltd, in 1928 with his son John Howard King. The company made uniform buttons (see below). Together with Brim Medallions, Wheelan’s Castings and Swan & Hudson, the company was amalgamated into J. J. Cash in the late 1980’s, and is now known as Cash’s Australia.
S.Schlank & Co. Ltd., Adelaide:
Salis P. Sclank (Salis Schonlank) was a Prussian Jewish jeweller who started his own company from the Adelaide branch of a previous partnership (P.Falk & Co.) in 1887. The company was a leading medal and badge maker and remained with the Schlank family until 1969. The company was sold off in 1970.
William Joseph Amor (1860-1955) was a skilled English medalist and die engraver who established his business in Sydney in 1888. It became a limited company in 1917. From 1943 til 1978 it traded as ‘Amor P/L’ when the company was renamed ‘Amor-Sanders’ and continued to 1997 as the premier medal, badge and institutional button manufacturer in New South Wales. The company then split into two smaller entities. For more information see http://www.powerhousemuseum.com/collection/database/?irn=10737&utm_source=api&utm_medium=api&utm_campaign=828f4d948d537cf