This is most likely not a complete listing. I apologise if I have overlooked anyone, and will happily add anyone brought to my attention.
AUSTRALIAN THREAD Pty. Ltd:
Subsidiary company of Tootal Group. Imported Tootal brand buttons made in the USA.
BURNS, PHILIP & Co. Ltd:
Two Scotsmen, James Burns and Robert Philip, founded this company in 1870 to establish a regular shipping line between Sydney and Townsville. They expanded along the Queensland coast and into the South Pacific, including Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Samoa and the New Hebrides. During WW2 the company was a major trader in this region. Perhaps this was why it was able to supply pearl shell and pearl buttons. It became a major food manufacturer before de-listing in 2006.
In 1933, with the Federal Government’s encouragement, they started a new company, the ‘Australian Pearlbutton Manufacturing Co. Ltd.’ This failed to be profitable, and was merged into ‘G.Herring (Aust.) Pty. Ltd.’ However, They maintained a 50% interest in G. Herring until 1963.
Formed from the combination of two British textile firms ( Coats and Patons & Baldwins) which later merged with Bonds Industries in 1969. They imported Tootal brand buttons made in the USA into Australia.
Notice that some metal buttons are further mounted in a plastic surround to make a more fancy button (the white Donald Ducks). The Donalds also show variation in the painted finish, as one has an orange bill whilst the others have orange. This kind of variation is due to the painting being done by hand. The variation in amount of detailing, as well and the changing type of plastic indicates that these buttons were made over a period of time. Hand painting was labour intensive, and therefore became too expensive.
The buttons below are Carol’s.
DEMETRE BUTTONS/ J. DEMETRE AND CO. P/L
This company was established in 1964 as Demetre Buttons, and still runs from Marrickville, NSW. It appears to be a firm of distributors.
I’ve photographed a Demetre branded card along side a Leda-Beauclaire card from the late 1950s/early 1960s. The cardboard is different, and the size slightly different, but there are enough similarities to suggest that the Demetre branded buttons were supplied by General Plastics, and that Demetre were distributors rather than manufacturers. Both cards state ‘Dry cleans perfectly’ with the same rounded-cornered rectangle in the right bottom corner for the price. They have an identical faint cream coloured grid printed in the middle of the card to guide the placement of the buttons.
E.C.BIRCH Pty Ltd:
A family owned wholesale haberdashery distributing company started in 1926 by Edgar Charles Birch, in Melbourne.
FASHION BUTTONS: 1953- today
Thanks to Mark Neighbour, the 3rd generation managing director of this family owned company, for this short biography:
‘Fashion Buttons’ was established in 1953 by Mark’s grandfather, and taken over by his father in 1961. Mark worked for Beutron around 1976-1978. He joined the family business in 1988. As well as being wholesale suppliers they cover, dye and engrave buttons. Mark tells me that “In the old days, Sydney and Melbourne worked their own markets with little overlap”.
HABERDASHERY SALES Pty. Ltd:
A private company started in 1963. Has distributed “Dressmaker” brand buttons. Located previously in Richmond and now in Heidelberg West, Victoria.
HOOPER & HARRISON Pty. Ltd., Sydney:
Hooper and Harrison were operating from Sydney from 1889. The original partners were Alfred Harrison and Thomas Hooper. Starting in Sydney, they would expand to have warehouses/outlets in Adelaide, Hobart, Melbourne and Brisbane, London and New Zealand. The company owned the Invicta trademark. They were primarily wholesale suppliers of woollen products and tailors’ trimmings, but did employee tailors and so probably produced clothing as well. They imported cases of buttons. At one stage the company seemed to have been a subsidiary of the Australian Woollen Mills Ltd.
ISHERWOOD & BARTLETT, Melbourne:
Charles Henry Isherwood (1883-1941) and Walter Charles Milward Bartlett were smallgoods traders and warehousemen, with outlets in Sydney, Newcastle, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide from at least 1900 until 1950.
On the back of these cards is printed:
He must have traded with Grace Brothers, as a travelling salesman called Mr A. Camfield represented him at the funeral of Mr E.P. Norrie, manager and director of Grace Brothers in 1933.
He donated prize money for the North Coast National Annual Agricultural and Industry Exhibition in 1934.
Finally, he supplied vegetable ivory buttons for Ordnance Stores in 1940.
Presumably he was a distributor/wholesaler. The prices indicated these buttons were sold from the late 1950s to mid 1960s. Some of the buttons look like those on Leda cards.
KORBOND INDUSTRIES Pty. Ltd:
A private ‘piece goods and notions’ company started in 1956. The headquarters is in Ingleburn, New South Wales.
LINCRAFT AUSTRALIA Pty Ltd:
Sells buttons packed in Australia on Lincraft branded cards.
MODERNE ACCESSORIES (NSW) Pty. Ltd.
This company was first registered in 1949, adding (NSW) to the name later. The company was defunct before 1990, and delisted in 1992.
M. RECHT ACCESSORIES:
Started in 1950 by Michael Recht in Melbourne to supplied accessories and trims to the clothing industry.
Thanks to Deborah for the collection of sample cards.
MT SULLIVAN & CO /SULLIVANS INTERNATIONAL Pty Ltd:
An Australian manufacturer and distributor of trimmings, sewing and craft accessories, established in the 1980s.
PANKY’S Pty. Ltd:
This company started advertising button covering machines, dies and moulds in 1946. It later advertised as a button merchants and importers. They went into liquidation in 1974.
POLYFIELD Pty Ltd:
Established in Sydney in 1985. A supplier, distributor and wholesaler of fashion trims including buttons.
‘Roger Berry and Co.’ advertised in 1945 then ‘Roger Berry Pty. Ltd.’ was incorporated in New South Wales on 18/07/1946. From at least 1947 until 1956 they advertised in newspapers and magazines as a wholesaler and distributor of haberdashery, but not as a manufacturer. Roger Berry Pty. Ltd. wound up on 21/1/1975.
(See also the Coronet above.)
Circa late 1940s – early 1950s there was a change of branding from ‘Coronet’ to ‘Roger Berry’. I do not know if it was the same company, or if Coronet was taken over.
The card of Roger Berry buttons below suggests that the buttons distributed by Coronet (and then Roger Berry) were made by General Plastics as this design is found also on Beauclaire cards. Perhaps General Plastics (and their predecessors O. C. Rheuben and Herrman Co.) did not distribute their own buttons until the 1940s when cards marked “A GP product” appeared. However, it is possible that they distributed their own buttons on otherwise branded cards.
TERRIES Pty Ltd:
Started in 1955, Terries Pty. Ltd. is a private firm in New South Wales. Terries distributed Korbond products in the 1950s. They had an office in Bentleigh, Melbourne.
THOMAS BROWN AND SONS Ltd:
Started in 1898 from existing Brown’s family businesses as a Queensland company involved in drapery, grocery and general merchanise. See also http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/brown-david-laughland-3073
VINCONA Pty Ltd:
Based in Marrickvale, NSW, and started in 1985, this company were distributors of apparel and footwear (including buttons). They have changed name to All Gifts Online, and do not appear to sell buttons anymore!