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.

6th July 2018

New finds:

There is a printers code on the card (259-10M-30/8/39-12) It sure looks like a date! this means this card was printed in 1938. looking at my one other Myers card of this type, it incldeds the numerals ’39’. I didn’t realsie they were that old!

The buttons have attractive cut-through detailing.

1938 was a significant year for Myers. In February Elcon Boevski Myer( an elder brother of Sidney) died. He had preceeded Sidney to Australia, and been involved with the business from its very start in Bendigo. A nephew, Norman Myer, would take over as the new head of the business. In September they held an exhibition of marble statues within the store.


And thanks so much Pat: a metal Goofy!

4th July 2018

Most appropriate for Independence Day, a new card of Disney buttons!

I have previously guessed these buttons to date from the late 1950s. However, if the “12 cents each” penciled in price was written when the buttons were new, it may be the mid-late 1960s. These are a new colour variation.


2nd July 2018

New finds:


On the back of the koalas is a pasted advert for “Surfo” swim trunks, requiring 5 coupons. This dates the card around 1944.

Embassy cards, 1970s.

Maxart with dual price sticker, i.e. 1966.

A Beauclaire buckle. The buttons may be by Leda.

1st July 2018

New finds:

The yellow ‘waffle’ type button is found on both ‘Lovely Lady’ and Beauclaire cards. The pink elephant are a recent edition (?1980-90s) of what was originally found on Beauclaire “Tiny Tots” cards from the 1950s. The teddy bears are 3 glass buttons (imported from West Germany) for Beutron and sold on their children’s collectable cards and also on “Original”cards.

These buttons are like the S.A.R. buttons, except the one on the left has no lettering (backmark Stokes & Sons) and the one on the right only the letters SA. This one has no backmark, and a split pin instead of a regular shank.

Buttons and Buckles from Pat:

I’m guessing this button is a fashion button. It appears to be copy of a Greek or Roman coin, right down to the irregular shape, but the “Made in Australia” map has a pointed, modern look. Anyone know anything about this one?

28th June 2018

A couple of collectors have such lovely collections of realistic/goofy dog buttons that I have started buying a few of my own.

Buttons shaped like the actual objects they depict are known as ‘Goofies’ (especially in the USA), realistic or figural buttons. They  rarely existed before the 1930s apart from occasional flower or shell shaped button. In Australia, they were first written about in 1936.  They were very fashionable for ladies for the next few years. Sometime between 1940 and the mid 1950s they morphed into something for children’s clothes only (except perhaps for flower shaped).

I’ve gone back to Trove to pick out details of animal figural buttons.


1936. Notice her fish buttons



1937. They are hard to see, but they are fish buttons or her waistcoat.




Greyhound buckle, 1937

Advert from 1937

Description of race-going fashions. 1937

Artilce from 1937

 China elephant, 1938


Porcelain dogs head, 1937



Bone dog, 1938

 Scotty buckle, 1938


giraffe, 1940


White porcelain fish flecked with gold and black,1949

Beauclaire, 1954





26th June 2018

New finds from “Trove”:

Two adverts from Farmer’s department store, which had a Button Section.

The Sun, 9th March 1941. Notice the bird buttons in the centre? Nice turkey!

The Sun, 9th June 1938.

An idea for ‘make-you-own’ earrings:

Sunday Times (Brisbane) 16th August 1953.

24th June 2018

An early reference to button manufacture in Melbourne:

The Argus (Melbourne) 28th August 1854. I would guess he used Thomas Stokes to produce the buttons.

Robert Barbour was born in Beith, Ayrshire, Scotland in 1827. He immigrated to Melbourne in 1851 and ran a business as a retail and wholesale warehouseman, which evolved into a drapery business. He was also a squatter, running dairy and beef cattle as well as saw-milling. He was first listed at 117 Swanston Street, then 119 and 121 Great Bourke Street and later 83 Bourke St. He established drapery outlets in Emerald Hill, Castlemaine, Maldon and Bendigo, the stores being named ‘Britannia House’. He sold these business in 1858 and concentrated on his sawmilling business. He would  become a member of Parliament, and was known as a difficult but clever man.