G. Herring (Beutron)

See also the page of vintage Beutron advertising.

‘G. Herring and Co.’ advertised for a traveling salesman for sheep-branding oil in 1931-2. In March 1933 it became G. Herring and Co. Ltd., as cotton spinners and manufacturers of twine, jute and flax. By 1937 they were importing button and buckles. Also around this time they were extending into jewellery.

Published in The Argus, 21st May 1932. The company at this stage is located in Pitt Street, Sydney.


G. Herring










The company was named after George Gerard Herring, 1900-1980, one of the first directors. The other first directors were Marshall Carl Adolf Ney, his brother Cornelius Frederick Bernhard. Ney, and John Morrow. Mr Marshall Ney was the managing director from 1933 until at least 1953. In 1937 the address was Jones Lane, Waterloo. The Ney brothers were great-grand sons of the famous Marshall Ney, general of Napoleon from 1799. They were were born in America. As well as his work with G. Herring, Cornelius (1902-1967) was a clothing manufacturer and representative of fashion houses in Australia. Marshall lived from 1906-1977.

Cornelius Ney in 1931.

Published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 29th June 1937.

Published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 29th June 1937.


Australian Women’s Weekly, 20th November 1948.

Marshall Ney 1907-1977,  from The Sun (Sydney), 7th September 1951.

"Succulent chops and sausages are being cooked by Mr. Marshall Ney at the barbecue, whilst vivacious Mrs. Ney serves drinks at their home at St. Ives."

‘Succulent chops and sausages are being cooked by Mr. Marshall Ney at the barbecue, whilst vivacious Mrs. Ney serves drinks at their home at St. Ives.’  Australian Women’s Weekly, 7th March 1956.

In 1939 a new company, G. Herring (Aust) P/L,  was incorporated in New South Wales from the merging of this company and the Pearl Button Manufacturing Co. Ltd. 

The new, merged company would continue to produce pearl buttons through the 1940’s. Burns Philip maintained a 50 percent interest in this firm.

The Daily Telegraph, 18th January 1939.

Published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 9th October 1941.

Commonwealth of Australia Gazette 3rd June 1943. The card above has ‘Jewel Pearl’ printed on it.

The article (below) from the newspaper ‘Smith’s Weekly’ 30th August 1941, describes how the company was moving into new processes.

The Argus, 26th February 1943.

The Argus 16th June 1945. It looks like the Victorian branch of the company did not last for long.

By 1943 the company was described as a manufacturer of casein, mother-of-pearl buttons and dress accessories. The name ‘Beutron’ was first used by G. Herring for its buttons around 1946. (Interesting side note: there was a race horse named Beutron from 1941 and another around 1953. I’d guess that one or both were owned by someone to do with the company.) As the company was producing buttons from around 1939,  there was approximately a 7 year period when the buttons were otherwise labelled. A brand they may have produced in this period was “Bonnie Buttons”

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The design on the top is definitely a G. Herring design (see below).

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The photos below shows that the name Beutron was originally used by the company as a name for a type of plastic (note that the Tub Buttons were ‘made from Beutron. The plastic of the Future’). The buttons may be be casein. Soon the trade name would apply to the buttons,  as well as the plastic.

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The G.Herring logo of 3 fish in a circle can be seen bottom right. They’re herrings;  get it?



Reports in The Sun (Sydney) of a court case in 1945 shed light on the operations of the company:

20th May 1945

above: 20th May  and right :1st July


Published Daily Mercury 11th November 1946.  . Below are a sample of ‘wash buttons’ and also ‘tub buttons’. Large cards like this would be cut up for the customer to only buy as many buttons as they required. Because of this scrap paper was often pasted to the back to prevent the other buttons falling off when the thread holding them all to the cardboard was cut through.

Note “British Made”. G. Herring was importing buttons in 1937; perhaps they kept doing so for some time despite their claim to be only manufacturing in Australia.

Published 29th July 1947, The Canberra Times. Note that the buttons are made from ‘strong Beutron plastic’.

Newcastle Sun, 21st April, 1948.

 National Archives of Australia: A1200,L12790 Mixing plastic at Beutron, Sydney, 1949

National Archives of Australia: A1200, L12790
Mixing plastic at Beutron, Sydney, 1949.

 National Archives of Australia: A1200, L12791 Extruding rods of platic to be cut into buttons. Beutron, Sydney, 1949

National Archives of Australia: A1200, L12791
Extruding rods of plastic to be cut into buttons. Beutron, Sydney, 1949.

 National Archives of Australia: A1200, L12792 Sorting button. Beutron, Sydney, 1949

National Archives of Australia: A1200, L12792
Sorting button. Beutron, Sydney, 1949.

Published in the Sunday Herald (NSW) 13th March 1949

Published in the Sunday Herald (NSW), 13th March 1949. The caption says: ‘Buttons by G.Herring Pty. Ltd. Frocks by Farmer’s’. These buttons seem  like costume jewellery.

The Sun, 3rd March, 1949.

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The buttons are now named Beutron rather than the plastic.

All these buttons

All these buttons were made expressly for ‘Richall’ Melbourne. This company made clothes such as blouses and school wear from 1949-1961.

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Several sizings of the same design.

Several sizes of the same design.

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Various 'Tub Buttons'. Note that the same designs were sometimes attached to 'Tub buttons' cards and also 'Wash Buttons" cards.

Various ‘Tub Buttons’. Note that the same designs were sometimes attached to ‘Tub buttons’ cards and sometimes to ‘Wash Buttons’ cards. The marketing was not consistent!

screen-shot-2016-09-30-at-9-28-11-pmMore cute Tub Buttons


Boiling buttons, Tub buttons, Wash buttons! What exciting names!!


In 1948,  before Opal-Glo was advertised, G. Herring advertised ‘Irridel’. They were both marketed simulataneously during 1949, then Irridel was dropped as a brand name until 1957.

Packing box with examples of 'Lastest Fashion' buttons on the end.

Some buttons have been affixed to the end of this Beutron  ‘Opal-Glo’ packaging box.

‘Opal-Glo’ was a line of iridescent buttons trademarked by G.Herring on 20th December 1948  using a combination of two American plastic formulas. 

There were at that time 130 men designing and making more than one million buttons per week. The company mixed and coloured their own plastic. The powdered plastic would be poured into extruding machines to be forced under pressure into long rods of varying diameter. These rods were cut by machine into buttons then the holes drilled. After glazing and waxing the buttons would be inspected, carded, packed and distributed. The company at that time were opening their 3rd factory in and around Sydney. A small card of Opal-Glo buttons cost one shilling. By 1953 the price was one shilling and four and half pence, dropping back to one shilling three pence by 1956. 


Style 613 from Lois.

Style 837 from Lois.

Style 837 from Lois.



Style 809.


Styles x and y

Styles 849 and 842.



From Lois's collection.

Thanks to Lois.

Along with Opal-Glo, G. Herring’s other main lines in the 1950’s included ‘Originals’,  which included ‘light as a feather’ plastics, metal coated dress buttons  and glass buttons. Some of these (e.g. the glass) were imported. There were also ‘Boil-tested Whites’ for uniforms and cardigan buttons. The latter included backing disks to stop the button pulling through the knitting, as shown in this detail from a 1950 advert.


Cardigan buttons also appeared on small cards, see down page.

 The Sunday Mail (Brisbane) on the 5th July 1953, trumpeted the ‘most sensational advances in the Australian button trade’.  What was the cause of this excitement, you ask?  The new Beutron press stud pearl buttons with the  clip on top that could ‘be removed in seconds’ for washing or dry-cleaning. Oh, boy!!

Note that the press-studs were available in 3 sizes and 10 shades.

The buttons on the right have the same 'pearl' front but with a shaft inserted instead of a press-stud glued on. Notice hat there are 2 different sizes (at least).

The buttons on the right have the same ‘pearl’ front but with a shaft inserted instead of a press-stud glued on.

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Thanks ,Lois.

The backing disks are sewn behind the main buttons on older cards.

From Lois: cardigan buttons with the instruction on the back.

From Lois: Cardigan buttons with the instruction on the back.

'Boil-tested whites'. These were marketed from around 1951 through to post decimal (1966) days.

‘Boil-tested whites’. These were marketed from around 1951 through to post decimal (1966) days.

In Helen’s collection.

Published in The Newcastle Sun, 26th January 1950.

Beutron 'Originals' were plastic buttons coated by a special process with 'real silver and gold' to produce a metal like button without the weight. 'Buttons by the world's greatest designers'.

 ‘Buttons by the world’s greatest designers’.

Screen shot 2016-06-26 at 8.28.49 PMFrom my (left) and Carol's collections: 3 sizes of 'wreath' style in approx 20 colours.


‘Originals’ metal coated plastic button: Above from my (left) and Carol’s collections:  3 sizes of a wreath-like style outer ring in approx 20 colours.

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This style above has a plain outer ring.

These rims have a twisted rope appearance.


The rims are series of small arches.

Lovely flower like buttons from carol's collection.

Lovely flower like buttons from Carol’s collection.

The top row are ‘light as a feather’ plastic. The rest are imported glass designs.

On the back of the glass buttons,

From Lois's collection.

From Lois’s collection.

Detail of Women’s Weekly Ad: 21 April 1954

As well as button cards labelled ‘Opal-Glo’, ‘Originals’ and ‘Boil-tested Whites’, from around 1949 til 1959 there were yellow carded ‘All Purpose’ buttons. In 1958 Beutron’s new ‘Tec-pearl’ buttons were marketed. These were pearl-like plastic buttons with (supposedly) the look of pearl without the inconvenience. They were still being sold in 1965.

The Canberra Times, 1st November 1958.

These shaped yellow cards, at first without printed prices, would remain in use from 1949 until about 1960.


Note the faux-stitching around the button edges.  The pink buttons have been sewn onto a boil-tested white card.  Oops.

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A nice variety of 'All Purpose' buttons from Lois.

Above and below:  A nice variety of ‘All Purpose’ buttons from Lois.

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Tecpearl buttons. From the top left, older style cards. The perforated rectangle cards dated from circa 1960. The TecOpal is unusual:  I haven’t seen it advertised at all. However, the name was trademarked 24th July 1957.

A disastrous fire, sparked by an electrical storm on Sunday morning, the 16th November 1952,  destroyed the Herring button factory, and damaged a couple of neighbouring factories. Employees living near-by rushed to help fight the fire.  More arrived to protect the machinery from the heat and water, and to help clean up. The company was able to start manufacturing buttons the following week. Below is a thank-you letter from the managing director, Marshall Carl Ney, published in several newspapers.

Little more than a year later there was another fire that destroyed most of the second story of a Herring’s button factory.  This time twelve had to flee, with two sustaining minor burns. The Sydney Morning Herald, on 19th January 1954,  announced planned for a new factory to be built for G.Herring with an amusing title:

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The factory was to be 30,000 sq.ft  with room for a further 20.000. It had a steel frame and saw-tooth roofing. There was to be a ‘modern cafeteria for serving hot meals’.  As the factory was to show a ‘delicate touch’ I’m also amused that … ‘A new note in appearance has been struck, particularly with the main entrance … This entrance has been made as forcible as possible with a large stone-flagged forecourt … ‘.

An article in 'Building, Lighting and Engineering' 24th February 1954.

An article in ‘Building, Lighting and Engineering’ 24th February 1954.

For a  time, the company claimed that all Beutron buttons were made in Australia. As the company thrived and demand increased, factories would be opened overseas. In the late 1950s Australian made Beutron buttons were shipped in cardboard tubes to Japan to be sewn onto cards  then re-imported for retail sale.  In 1962 Burns Philips sold the interest they had in the firm since 1938. In 1963  F.W. Williams Holding acquired a half interest in the company that was now named Beutron Australia Ltd.  By that stage there were, or had been, factories in Sydney, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Japan and  South Africa and Beutron branded buttons were being supplied world-wide.   F. W. Williams was in turn taken over by Pioneer Concrete around 1968. Marshall Ney remained as a director, but his son David Marshall Ney (1927-2018), became the general manager. Beutron was purchased in 2001 by Leutenegger, a large craft firm that was started in 1891 in Brisbane by a Swiss immigrant, Jacques Leutenegger.

From an article about F.W. Williams Holdings in The Bulletin, 30th May 1964. Despite this article stating that General Plastics was being merged with Beutron in 1964, the website http://www.delisted.com.au/company/general-plastics-limited dates the takeover on 1/1/1957.

David Ney in 1956, then 19 years old.

Note that theplastic buttons were entirely Australian made, but Beutron glass buttons had imported tops.

Note that the plastic buttons were entirely Australian made, but Beutron glass buttons had imported bases. However, there was still ‘nothing better than a Beutron.’ The buttons below date from c.1960-1966.

The top left buttons are dyed mother-of-pearl. Top right are metal coated plastic (like an Original). The middle row has Opal-Glo style buttons. The bottom are the same as “General Purpose” styles, however, they are no longer labelled that way.

From Lois's collection.

From Lois’s collection. ‘Colour Matched’ was a marketing line in the 1960s.

‘New Beutron’ Perhaps so named after the change of ownership that occurred in 1963.

From Lois's collection.

From Lois’s collection. 1966.

A Spring/Summer catalogue of 1964/65 stated there was a 465  assortment of Tecpearl and Opal-Glo buttons, in standard, semi-fashion ranges. The fashion selection were designed by  the “world’s leading stylists … New York, London, Paris, Rome”. There was a minimum order of 6 cards of each style, with free point of sale merchandising and wire fitment. There were different set up available for different size stores.









“Ideal for the small store” with 75 hooks.



















King size with 120 hooks.

Note that two different styles of cards were being used simultaneously:


Beutron through the years from early 70s through to the modern era of ownership by J.Leutenegger Pty Ltd (bottom right).

Beutron packaged and/or made buttons for other companies/stores such as these: Kmart,  Target and Butterick. Probably 1970s era.

1980s or beyond (due to bar-codes) : now produced in Thailand.

Children’s buttons: 1980s, using designs from the 1950s.

Pretty 12mm pearlescent pink buttons produced by Beutron for Butterick. Details from the tune label below.

Pretty 12mm pearlescent pink buttons produced by Beutron for Butterick. Details from the tune label below.

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Buckles from Carol's collection.

Buckles from Carol’s collection.

In Helen’s collection.


And now something totally groovy!

“Get uptight just right”