Author Archives: abuttonadmin

15th October 2019

Buttonfest finds part 4:

More Beauclaires:

These are glass buttons, therefore imported. They have four-way box shanks (see below) which, according to the Big Book of Buttons were characteristic of many Czechoslavakian glass buttons both pre WW1 and 1918-1938, which is strange as these were sold in the 1950s. Were they old stock, or were the manufacturers using up old shanks?

4-way box shank

Arthur George “Randolph” Griffiths: 1898-1952

Managing Director General Plastic 1946-1952.

(See also the Beauclaire page)

Randolph was born in Suva in 1898. His grandfather had started a Fijian newspaper, which was a challenge to distribute to remote islands by boat in the 1860s! By 1912 his parents had moved the family to Sydney. Randolph enlisted in WW1 and served for 3 years, but was deemed unfit for active service as he had a history of rheumatic heart disease. He was at that time working for the Perdriau Rubber Corporation (later Dunlop-Perdriau Ltd) and by 1935 had become the sales manager. He resigned to work on his own business, possibly Grifko Auto Accessories Ltd, which he started in 1924 but folded by 1936.

In 1920 his parents moved to California, which was perhaps a reason he travelled to America often, enabling him to research plastics and button designs. In 1921 he married Florence Rheuben, sister of Otto and Percy who had bought the pioneering Herrman Company from yet another brother in-law, Berthold Herrman. I wonder if this was a cause for concern, as he was Anglican, and they Jewish. None the less, he acted as the honorary treasurer of the Emanuel Temple. He became vice-president of the Bondi Life Saving Club where he would save 4 lives. In 1932 was elected to the local council. He enlisted again during WW2, reaching the rank of Major. At some stage he joined the family firm of O. C. Rheuben & Company, as when it became General Plastics in 1946 he was the chairman and managing director. He would be involved in setting up the short lived pearl shell manufacturing factory in Cairns in 1952, just before he died aged only 54 years. I wonder if this rheumatic heart disease caught up with him.

He was remembered for his work in the Welfare Guardian Society, the Bondi Lifesaving Club, and for his ongoing concern for Fijian natives living in New Zealand.

 

14th October 2019

Buttonfest finds part 3:

Extremes in size:

Beauclaire:

O. C. Reuben & Co became ‘General Plastics’ in 1941. It is possible Beauclaire branding was used from then, however, the samples supplied to the Powerhouse Museum in 1950 are labelled General Plastics with a drawing of the ‘Venus de Milo’ as a trademark,but not the name Beauclaire. The earliest date that ‘Beauclaire buckles’ were advertised for sale was 1951, and ‘Beauclaire buttons’ in 1953.

That is my long winded way of guessing that the following buttons date from the early 1950s!

Some other examples of this design in my collection:

The larger button is concave, the others not. The pink one is coloured only on the top of the button.

Geometric buttons like these featured in adverts from 1956-7. See details below:

13th October 2019

Buttonfest finds part 2:

Maxart and Astor:

The large Maxart card dates pre-decimal (14th February 1966) and was still in the era when a customer could buy an individual number of buttons that would be cut from the card. This necessitated the cotton at the back being papered or taped over to stop buttons coming loose!

The small cards date post February 1966, possibly until the early 1970s.

Perhaps the buttons were 5/6 per horizontal row (4 buttons) or 6/6 per vertical row (6 buttons)? The bottom row has been snipped off this card.

These Astor buttons date c.1966 as the prices are equivalent; one card has both prices 2/3 converting to 25 cents. They have a lovely glossy, iridescence. Some are sew-thru, one has a self shank, the others clear plastic  inserted shanks. ? Polyester/lucite.

12th October 2019

Buttonfest finds: Part 1

The annual Victorian Button Collectors Club’s Buttonfest was held today. Although the displays and stalls were up to standard, the number of attendees was down; perhaps competition with the concurrent textile show as well as 3 separate protests in the city (one semi-naked!) was to blame? Whatever the reason, I did my bit by purchasing goodies from most of the stalls!

By matching buttons on the store display card below with cards in my collection, I believe it dates c.1960-1965:

 

10th October 2019

New variation of Disney buttons:

As mentioned before, it is possibly that these were produced locally under license; the Yanks thought so …

This page came from‘Antique & Collectible Buttons: Identification & Values, Vol. 2. by Debra J. Wisniewski. However, the buttons were advertised from 1948-1953.

Certainly, Disney products were produced in countries other than the USA. I’ve just read an article in the now defunct American magazine ‘Just Buttons’ from September 1957: see below …

Note that the author received these from ‘overseas’ and that they had not seen these designs before, which would suggest they were not USA made.

Here are some other Disney buttons:

 

9th October 2019

New Finds: Police buttons

N.T. Police button by Stokes and Sons 1911-1952 Queensland Police button by AJ Parkes

Northern territory Police:

The current NT Police force started in 1911. Before that the Territory was served by South Australian Mounted Police from 1870 and the Native Police Corps from 1884. Wikipedia notes they have 70 stations and shopfronts, 3 boats, 1 helicopter, 23 horses and 72 camels!

Queensland Police:

Queensland got its own force in 1864, the year of the state’s separation from New South Wales. It was not until 1931 that 2 women were appointed to the force. Wikipedia doesn’t mention how many camels they own!

For police buttons from around Australia check:

http://www.ausbuttonhistory.com/?p=12795

http://www.ausbuttonhistory.com/?p=11295

http://www.ausbuttonhistory.com/?p=10096

http://www.ausbuttonhistory.com/?p=9821

http://www.ausbuttonhistory.com/?p=9523

http://www.ausbuttonhistory.com/?p=9082

http://www.ausbuttonhistory.com/?p=8900

http://www.ausbuttonhistory.com/?p=7709

http://www.ausbuttonhistory.com/?p=7307

http://www.ausbuttonhistory.com/?p=5800

http://www.ausbuttonhistory.com/?p=1852

 

 

7th October 2019

New finds:

A new variation of this Coronet brand design:

Compare with my other variations: It is like the hand detailed one on the right, but with a different palette.

See: http://www.ausbuttonhistory.com/?p=5061

Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club:

The R.P.A.Y.C. button is on the left. I have included a black plastic naval button to show the similarity, however, it is blackened brass.

 

In 1856 the first yachting club was formed in Sydney; the Mosquito Club. In October 1867, with the Prince about to visit, the club reformed to become the Prince Alfred Yacht Club.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 16th October 1867.

The Royal Sydney and Prince Alfred clubs’ yachts formed a guard of honour when the HMS Galatea sailed through Sydney Harbour. In 1911 the club was given permission to use the prefix ‘Royal’.

Crowds waving the HMS Galatea goodbye. Illustrated Sydney news, 22nd February 1868.

The Sun, 16th February 1935.

In 1919 the club moved to the less crowded waters of Pittwater, and stayed there until selling the land for a pretty penny in 1970. A second club house had previously built in the 1960s and was now the club’s sole location.

Another yacht club button was featured on 8th September 2018. See http://www.ausbuttonhistory.com/?p=9517

6th October 2019

New find:

Beauclaire pearlised ball buttons c. 1953.

Comparison with other sizes and colours: The blue/grey are 6.5mm diameter, the pink 8.5mm and the green 10.7mm. Pearlised plastic was popular in the 1950s, with finish being acheived with a coating containing ground fish scales! Unfortunately, it often peels or chips off, spoiling the button.

Whilst they could have been used as buttons, They were promoted as ornamentation:

A summer stole littered with lustrous pearls…
Published in The Sunday Herald 16 August 1953.

 

 

3rd October 2019

Paramatta Woollen Mills Ltd, Sydney:

 

 

 

 

 

In August 1803 Governor King appointed a Scottish convict weaver to run a weaving establishment. This was the beginning of an organised woollen industry in Australia, although female convicts had been spinning and weaving before this, sheep having been brought out with the first fleet in 1788. From 1804 female prisoners  at the ‘Female Factory’ were set to work weaving woollen cloth, sewing clothes and washing laundry.

In 1869 John French started producing tweed fabric at Darling Mills,originally a flour mill. His son Alfred  produced tweed at the Cumberland Woollen Mill, also originally a flour mill, from 1870.

This building was demolished in 1974.

In 1887 brothers William and J. H. Murray bought Darling Mill and renamed it the Paramatta Woollen Mill. They later bought the Cumberland Mill.

The business prospered. By 1900 they won  a gold medal for uniforms they had made. They provided uniforms for troops serving in the Boer war, for water police and for hospital attendants. In 1911 they were taken over by the Sydney Woollen Mills which had been  established in 1870. In 1975 the piece goods division was sold off, with the company in liquidation by 1984.

The World’s News, 10th October 1953. Part of the Sydney Woollen Mills.

https://sydneylivingmuseums.com.au/convict-sydney/convict-women-female-factory

http://arc.parracity.nsw.gov.au/blog/2014/10/08/harveys-mill-the-cumberland-steam-mill-and-dares-mill-parramatta/

http://arc.parracity.nsw.gov.au/blog/2015/11/17/parramatta-woollen-mills/

http://www.ausbuttonhistory.com/?p=3250  (This last link is of a post showing an example of the Boer War buttons.)

1st October 2019

 Plastics:

I’m revisiting my Lansing Company Inc catalogues from 1951-1961. I thought they might help with indentifying the types of plastics used. I immediately hit a problem; they are describing as bakelite many buttons that test negative to simichrome polish, are light weight and also include white examples! Perhaps they are a phenolic plastic, but they can’t be bakelite. Bakelite is weighty,  turns simichrome from pink to yellow, and white oxidises quickly to yellow.

Polyester (or not?)

These below were labelled as polyester in my catalogues: they all have a glistening, oily, slightly translucent appearance. As light plays on the surface, the colour varies in shade.

This site explains how polyester buttons are made. http://www.madehow.com/Volume-2/Button.html

According to https://www.popoptiq.com/types-of-buttons

“Polyester is a very common material for buttons because it is a type of plastic that makes it perfect for all types of buttons. Polyester is inexpensive, looks great, and can be dyed a variety of colors. Sometimes, red carbonate is added to polyester to make buttons that have the pearlescent sheen of shell buttons, but the truth is, polyester buttons offer so many options that it is all but impossible not to find something you love when you choose buttons made of this material.

Polyester buttons make it easy to button and unbutton a dress or blouse, and if you choose polyester buttons, they can even mimic other button materials, which means you are always guaranteed to get what you love without paying a fortune. Polyester buttons can be made to look like wood, pearl, or any other type of button, thanks to their versatility and the fact that they come in so many designs and colors.

For most non-professionals, therefore, it is virtually impossible to look at a button and determine whether it is made of polyester, wood, or any other type of button-making material. Most polyester buttons vary greatly when it comes to shading, luster, and brightness, so they can be light or dark, formal or casual, large or small, meaning you are always guaranteed to get something spectacular in the end.”

I confess that these above buttons look like many that were sold on Leda branded cards, which I thought were acrylic (Lucite). It’s a tricky business identifying plastics as they can mimic other substances and each other. According to https://www.sbs-zipper.com/blog/resin-buttons-vs-plastic-buttons-understanding-the-differences/  the term ”polyester”  most commonly refers to a plastic subtype called polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Wikipedia tells me that polyesters are a family of plastics that can be both themosetting or thermoplastic, which doesn’t help me with hot needle testing, although my polyester buttons had no smell with hot water testing and were resistant to a hot needle for what its worth!

According to an article in the Pioneer Button Club, July 2018, polyester has taken over from acrylics for high end buttons being produced today. The author also bemoaned the lack f a “foolproof, non-destructive way to tell acrylic from polyester 100% of the time.