In 2015 this blog was only getting started. Here’s a digest of stories and buttons shared during this time:
The card above is printed with Oz Works P L, and a pre 1995 Richmond (Melbourne) telephone number. This company was listed as employing 5 people and is variously described as dealing with finance, “durable goods”, “mass consumption goods”, plastic products, wholesaling, and market consultancy. Although the card the buttons on was printed in Australia, who knows where the buttons came from? Cute ducks though.
This card is one of a cute series made for children to collect in the 1950s. You could send in for a booklet to keep them in!
Apparently a prisoner at Freemantle Gaol who was good at art used to rip off his lead buttons to draw on the walls of his cell with. The authorities would have his work painted over, but he would just make more art. On checking out the Wikipedia entry on Freemantle goal; this was probably James Walsh, a 19th century forger whose art work was found hidden under layers of whitewash. (The photos of some of his art below are from https://allysonadeney.wordpress.com/2010/08/15/the-things-you-can-do-with-a-button/).
I just had to add the following from 1960 in The Australian Women’s Weekly. I’m sure they seemed like good ideas at the time!
Welcome to my blog exploring the history of buttons and button making within an Australian context. Buttons have been collected for centuries, and it’s no wonder. They are much more convenient to collect than tractors, and less smelly and dirty than old petrol cans! As well, the old advertising and merchandising can be quaint and amusing.
Seriously though, buttons are worth studying for many reasons. They range from the mundane and utilitarian to the purely fashionable and decorative. In value they vary from cheap and nasty to utterly expensive (diamond buttons anyone?). Buttons have been precious commodities; saved, recycled and passed down. They have been made of many differing materials by many different processes, reflecting historical changes in fashion, society, labour, industrial processes, trade, even the effects of politics and war. They have been stolen, labouriously hand-made, hoarded into valuable collections and begged from soldiers by school girls. Their manufacture could save a town troubled by unemployment and make some people wealthy. It could be dangerous, and by today’s standards, exploitive.
When I started to research Australian buttons, I found information scarce and scattered. There was a wealth of knowledge about the trade in America, Europe and Britain, but scarcely a mention of the once flourishing Australian industry. This is an attempt to uncover that histroy before it is lost.
At the moment I am not going to attempt to cover ‘studio’ buttons.
Please feel free to contribute stories and pictures of your own Australian-made beauties of any type!