Other pre-federation button makers.

Some of the “makers” listed here definitely were button/badge/silver ware manufacturers.  The others,  however,  were tailoring firms and also some department stores/retailers that supplied military, naval and public service uniforms.  The later probably 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’.  Exmaples of this can be seen with Bowley and Anderson buttons.

Alfred Bowley & Company, Melbourne:

Mr. Alfred Bowley. He was major of Camberwell in 1911-1913.

As  a naval and military uniform outfitter in Flinders Lane,  Melbourne,  they were importing items such as buttons from London from before federation.  The company continued to at least 1945,  when Alfred Bowley died.

from a larger article published in The Age, 26th September 1936

From a larger article published in The Age (Melbourne),  26th September 1936.

Mount Alexander Mail (Vic) 22nd december 1899

Mount Alexander Mail (Vic),  22nd December 1899.

The Argus(Melbourne),  26th April 1945.

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Back of MFB (Melbourne Fire Brigade) uniform button that specifically indicates it was made in England.

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The above button of the Commonwealth Cadet Corps is from Carol’s collection.  It dates from 1901-1910 (Edward VII) but is not marked as to where it was made.  The infantry button (also from Carol’s collection) is marked BOWLEY & CO  MELBOURNE.

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A,Bowley uniform button (Ebay advert).

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Carol tells me this style button was for nurses uniforms.

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.

AMF button, backmarked A.J.Parkes. Brisbane.

AMF button

NSW Tramways backmarked A.J.Parkes. Brisbane.

NSW Tramways

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L to R: N.S.W. Railways,  Post Master General Department,  Queensland Railways.

Commonwealth gazettes, 1953

Commonwealth Gazettes, 1951.

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An  A. J. Parkes scout button in plastic.


Anthony Hordern & Sons,  Sydney:

This was once the largest retail company in Australia.  It became Anthony Horden and Sons in 1869,  from earlier versions of the family’s draper and retail business.  The company established factories across Sydney which produced a diverse range of items although I don’t know if this inclded buttons.  Tony Earl has kindly shared this picture of a button of the Prince Alfred Yacht Club back-marked A.Hordern & Sons,  Sydney that dates from 1867-1911.


Sketch of the warehouse to be built in 1876.

Anthony Hordern (Jnr) 1886.  Together with his brother Samuel he made the business a success story after the death of their father, Anthony (snr).  He died suddenly of “brain fever” at the age of only 44 years.

The business was finally sold to Waltons in 1970.  Waltons also retailed Beutron buttons; see below.

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Charles Anderson and Co. Ltd ,  Sydney:

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Charles Anderson,  circa 1900.

NSW military brass uniform button dated 1881-1901. made by C.Anderson, Sydney

NSW military brass uniform button dated 1881-1901 made by C. Anderson, Sydney.

From the Australian War Memorial collection: “Original mounting board and paper containing 24 large size (24mm diameter) Australian Commonwealth buttons. All the buttons are identical and unissued and have the British Monarch, Edward VII’s royal cypher under a king’s crown, and the words ‘AUSTRALIAN COMMONWEALTH’ around the bottom edge. The reverse has stamped ‘ANDERSON SYDNEY BRITISH MAKE'”.

Charles Anderson was born in 1838.  He came to Australia from Scotland about 1880 with his wife Mary-Jane.  He established a large hat factory on the corner of Nicholls and Albion Streets, Surry Hills,  next to his home, Durham Hall.   The business had it’s beginning a decade pre- federation importing hats and was initially called the ‘New Federal Hat Mills of Sydney’.  From as early as 1895 he was  described as a “military tailor”.  The company was registered as ‘Charles Anderson and Company Limited’ in 1903 and was called ‘Anderson’s Industries Limited’,  by the time of his death in 1924.  They supplied uniforms, trimming and buttons for the armed forces and police.  Examples,  like the above one,  are found in the Powerhouse Museum and Australian War Memorial collections.  Here is an exert from N.S.W. tenders showing orders for buttons from the company in 1910.

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New South Wales tramways uniform buttons. Note the “British Make” . Whilst this could simply reflect the practice of “Imperial Perference”, it probably indicates that the buttons were sourced from English makers.

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C.K.Moore, Sydney:

Charles Kelso Moore (1834-1894) was an Irishman and merchant who lived in Sydney from 1859 onwards.  His business supplied tenders for the public service and Post Office.  He was very involved in public life,  running as Major for Waverley, as well as being involved in the New South Wales Rifle Brigade and the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron.

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Queanbeyan (NSW), 30th October 1873.

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C. R. Martin, Melbourne:

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The Age (Melbourne) 3rd July 1884

Charles Roper Martin (1833-1910) arrived in Melbourne in 1852 on the same ship as my husband’s great-grandfather.  In 1885 he established an importing business in Flinders Lane,  particularly gold and silver lace.  He was a pioneer of the Melbourne Cavalry Troop,  and rose to the rank of Commanding officer,  retiring with the rank of Major.  His interest in military matters extended to importing/manufacturing of military trappings.  The button above shows a Queen Victoria crown and was produced for the Queensland Railways.

G.A.Miller,  Sydney:

The company's current logo.

The company’s current logo.

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.

From Carol.  Royal Military College button; backmarked Millers Sydney.

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.  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.

The Argus 2nd April 1855

Parsons, Thompson, and Co,  Sydney:

Here’s a nice little story from the Sydney Morning Herald, 10th February, 1881.

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The firm was later renamed as Messrs. Thompson & Co. and traded in Victoria as well.

Jewish Herald, 26th April 1889.

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Jewish Herald (Victoria),  26th April 1889.

Pike Brothers, Brisbane:

Two English brothers,  Edwin and Walter Pike,  came to Brisbane in 1883.  They established their business,  Pike Brothers,  in 1885.

Published 16th may 1885 in the Queensland Figaro.

Published 16th may 1885 in the Queensland Figaro.

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They were successful,  and opened branches around Queensland,  as well as an office in London.  In 1956 the firm was bought by the Melbourne outfitters,  Leviathan (for more,  see the tailor’s button page) although stores continued to trade under the name ‘Pikes Brothers’, then  later ‘Pikes’.

4th July 1903

Published in The Telegraph(Brisbane),  4th July 1903.

P. J. King Pty. Ltd., Melbourne:

Percy John King (1870-1933) established his business in 1893.  It covered engraving,  die sinking and rubber stamp making.  The company also 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.

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RAA buttons: backmarked P.J.King Melb.

RAA buttons:  back-marked P.J.King Melb.

S.Schlank & Co. Ltd., Adelaide:

The Commonwealth Jeweller &​ Watchmaker, 1923.

Salis P. Sclank  (Salias Schonlank) was a Prussian Jewish jeweller who started his own company from the Adelaide branch of a previous partnership (P.Falk & Co.) in 1877.  The company was a leading medal and badge maker until 1971.

The Express and Telegraph, 27th Jun 1892

The Express and Telegraph(Adelaide),  27th Jun 1892.  After his death his widow,  and later his sons ,  continued the business.  The button below was seen on Ebay.


From Tony E’s collection.

Shierlaw & Co., Adelaide:

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From Carol’s collection.

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From Commonwealth Gazettes. 1902.

From Commonwealth Gazettes 1902.

From Powerhouse Museum collection: SA military uniform button.

The Shierlaw’s were tailors,  outfitters and merchants from 1860 who had a large mail order business.  They supplied uniforms for South Australian Military Forces from around 1877 through to 1901.  They also supplied uniforms for station masters,  for the Cadet Corps and for the police.  In 1906 when they opened a new store of “excellent design” in Gisbourne,  New Zealand.  The business continued in family hands until approximately 1920.

see: http://www.auspostalhistory.com/articles/1902.php

Published in The Advertiser (Adelaide) on the 24th September 1860

Published in The Advertiser (Adelaide) on the 24th September 1860.  The brothers George and William Shierlaw started their partnership at this time.  The name was changed to Shierlaw & Co. on the death of George in 1890.  The family originally came from Scotland.

Walter Mockton, Fitzroy, Melbourne:

This  rare button from Carol’s collection is believed to be from the Castlemaine Fire Brigade.  The Backmark is ‘W.MOCKTON. FITZROY’.  This reference came from a  1913 street directory;

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Queensland Times 11th February 1911.  This article references Mockton and Co. as one of many firms accepting contracts for uniforms.

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W.Chorley, Sydney:

Australian Horse uniform button c.1898-1921

Australian Horse, N.S.W. uniform button c.1897-1903 from an auction ad.

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William Chorley

William Chorley (1860-1935).

Powerhouse Museum collection: NSW Military Forces button.

William Chorley,  tailor,  came to Australia from England in 1883.  ‘Chorley & Co. Tailor and Robe Maker”  in George Street,  Sydney became renowned,  and specialised in formal court dress and service uniforms.  The firm continued until 1980.   See also  http://www.bchg.org.au/index.php/en/people/individuals/a-f/56-chorley-w-xxxx

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Published in The Sun (Sydney) 29th January 1950.


William Henderson, Sydney:

William Henderson was a warehouseman/merchant whose company,  William Henderson & Co.,  Pitt Street,  Sydney,  supplied military and government uniforms and buttons by tender in the 1880’s to 1890’s.

Evening News (Sydney) 30th March 1886

Evening News (Sydney), 30th March 1886.

Wiseman Bros.,  Melbourne:

In the 1880’s  Albert and Walter ran a business in Flinders Lane,  Melbourne,  as soft-goods warehousemen.  Along with their brother Arthur,  they were well regarded as philanthropists.

Albert Wiseman

Mount Alexander Mail (Victoria), 26th October 1906.

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W.J. Amor,  Sydney:Screen shot 2016-07-20 at 7.09.16 PM

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

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Extracted from an article published in the Sunday Times (Sydney),  11th May 1919.

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dies from Amor-Sanders used to make medals, Badges and Buttons, from the Power House Museum.

Dies from Amor-Sanders used to make medals,  Badges and Buttons,  from the Power House Museum.