Category Archives: Uncategorized

10th April 2020

A mystery:

Who was this button manufacturer?

The Sydney Morning Herald, 20th June 1919.

The only button manufacturer in Sydney that I am aware of around this time was ‘Herrman, Hatfield & Co’, but they could not have formed their partnership until February 1920 when Albert Hatfield returned from active service during WW1. Perhaps Berthold Herrman had started manufacturing before then? Otherwise, this is an unknown factory.

Button Borers:

When recently writing about ‘dangerous buttons’, perhaps I should have mentioned the possibility of infestation?

Starting in 1934 articles started appearing that warned of boring beetles laying eggs in trouser buttons (? made of Tagua nuts). The grubs would hatch, and by eating the inside of the buttons undermine their structure and cause them to collapse.

Chronicle, 17th October 1935.

I thought this was a bit of a beat up against imported buttons by local manufacturers, as  only a couple of articles were reprinted time and time again. Then there was a reply …

The Sydney Morning Herald, 19th October 1935.

So these kind of boring buttons were well known, but could also attack other plant and animal based buttons, including casein, compositon, etc. A decade later an article entitled ‘Man verses The Insects – A War That Never Ends’  it described beetles laying their eggs in drying buttons with the lavae eating it after drying and stamping. Tough critters!




8th April 2020

The Ministering Children’s League:

This was a British Organiation founded in 1884, with a Victorian branch in 1890. They ran a convalescent home at Queenscliffe, “Cottage by the Sea”. The league changed its name to ‘Cottage by the Sea Inc” in 1998.

The book below was sold as a fund riser. It included articles on child care, health, feeding baby, etc, but was about 50% adverts from sponsors.


Book published by the League c.1945.

Some of the sponsors were button companies and tailoring firms already described in the blog.

7th April 2020

Another manufacturer:

Melbourne Button Pty Ltd:

This company started in 1935 and was supplying jute webbing for the Department of supply in 1954. They also advertised for a machinist for ‘fancy leather work’.

The Herald, 28th May 1935.

Frank Henry Cowper was a director of various companies. They had moved from New Zealand to New South Wales, then around 1929 to Melbourne. His son Denis Lawson ‘Dave’ Cowper was an athlete, cricketer and rugby player. As a member of the Wallabies he toured South Africa in 1933.

From his Wikipedia entry.

6th April 2020

New finds:

Demetre appear to have been General Plastics/G. Herring sourced button distributed by Demetre from possibly the late 1950s to the late 1960s.

I have a partial card with 7 of these buttons on it. Does anyone want all/some?

I have so many apricot shaded buttons from the 1940s-50s. Pastels were popular in this period.

5th April 2020

Thompson & Co.

In April  1885 the Cumberland Mercury trumpeted a new industry within the new municipality.  It seems that Mr George Simeon Thompson (1852-1938), formerly of Parson, Thompson & Co.    ( see the pearl shell page) had shifted from Surry Hills to Granville.

However, he was only located there for some months, as later in the year he had moved back to Sydney. He must have continued for some years, as he was advertising his pearl shell studs and buttons in Melbourne in 1889.

4th April 2020

New Button Manufacturer/s:

British Novelties Pty. Ltd. and Datar Products.

The Daily Telegraph, 15th May 1940.

This company started in 1940. It advertised for tradesmen and factory workers, producing products such as cigarette cases and buttons and was located at 144 Mallett St, Camperdown, NSW.

In 1942 a plastic products company, Datar Products, was started.

Wise’s Post Office Directory, April 1942. It changed ownership to Bernard Jackson in 1943.

By 1946 it had moved to the same address as British Novelties, and was making button blanks.

Wise’s Post Office Directory, 1948.

In 1953 the owner of Datar Products was applying for British Novelties to be wound up. What had happened? Had British Novelties collapsed? Had Datar been providing button blanks for British Novelties, and not paid? Had the two companies simply merged. There were problems, as there were law hearings related to equity (whatever that means) in the District Court of NSW. I have not found out how long Datar existed for.

Dun’s Gazette, 27th November 1953.


3rd April 2020

More of Pat’s finds:

Lovely ‘realistics’ including Beauclaire/Beutron ducks, fish and rabbits. On the bottom row, a Coronet blue floer and green flower pot.

Rex ‘Jack and Jill’ rabbits.

Beautiful graphic on American MOP cards.

2nd April 2020

I love this! Thanks Pat:

“Summer Symptoms”

The card has the ‘G. Herring’ trademark in the top corner. This button was advertised during 1937.

Australian Women’s weekly, 9th October 1937

In 1937 G. Herring & Co. Ltd were advertising for an agent for overseas buttons and buckles.

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

This may have been the start of the company’s focus on buttons, at least as an importer. They would also start to make pearl buttons around this time. The butterfly button above is therefore an early example from this company; possibly imported.

31st March 2020

Dangerous buttons

Manufacturing buttons can be dangerous. Factories could be dangerous both due to the machinery used, and the flammable nature of some of the products used, especially celluloid. Many factories were multi-story, so that people could be trapped on upper floors, especially when fire doors were locked!  In 1860 a girl was killed when her dress was caught in machinery at a Sheffield button factory. In 1861 a steam boiler exploded, with one death and several injuries. In 1874 a girl got her hair caught in a machine. In 1910 three girls were burnt to death at a Birmingham celluloid button factory.  In 1912 several girls were “hurled many yards” when a boiler exploded, luckily without major injury. In 1918 twenty girls perished in a blaze at a Newark, New Jersey, button factory. In 1923 eleven lives were lost, with another eight injuries in a celluloid button factory fire in Buda-Pest. The same year a gas explosion and fire  at Wyeth, Besemeres & Co’s button and bottle-seal factory in Melbourne occurred, but without injury.

In 1951 a three storey Plastic Button factory was destroyed by fire in Melbourne, causing £15,000 damage and in 1952 the John Bowden Plastic Button Pty Ltd was burnt with £50,000 in estimated damages.

Luckily no lives were lost in this fire in Sydney:

Unfortunately, there was a further fire  there the following year with two minor injuries. A new factory was built in Willoughby, Sydney, in 1954.

An explosion and fire that started in accumulated plastic dust at the General Plastics (NZ) ltd factory in April 1965 was lucky to only cause 4 deaths and 6 injuries, as had it not occurred during a break up to 400 may have been in the area affected.



Factories were not safe from robbery, either. In 1935 safe-crackers stole £26 from O. C. Reuben & Co. in South Yarra. In 1945 an account of G. Herring’s was found to have helped himself to over £1000 worth of stock in order to start his own business.