If you are interested in the story of Bridgland & King you had better go back to yesterday’s post. Further research today made the plot thicken! Who did actually make the button in question?
I have not seen Embassy buttons like this before! The font looks like what was used by G. J. Coles in the 1950s. The buttons are made of trochus shell, the 2-holed button backs showing the tell-tale red-brown streaks.
Importation of pearl-shell into Japan for button manufacturing was only “allowed” in 1947 under MacArthur’s control of the country’s rebuilding post WW2, although it may have taken a couple of years for shell to made it to Japan.
Campbell has shared a new button featured on the Australian Military Collectors facebook page. It is a ‘Red Cross Rest Home’ button. The ‘Rest Home’ was built by the Red Cross in 1915 for returned soldiers. The makers mark is Bridgland & King, Melbourne.
But who made the buttons?
The original Bridgland and King were Charles Everest Bridgland and Percy John King, the same P. J. King of the famous firm. The partnership started in 1893 as engravers of brass plates and general work, in Little Collins Street. The partnership dissolved in 1899 with King continuing alone.
The usurpers may have been the firm advertising as located at 378 Post Office Place (Lt Bourke Street) and offering the same services. They advertised heavily over the coming years, and were responsible for at least some uniform buttons supplied for government tenders.
In 1928 Percy started the firm of P.J.King Pty. Ltd. with his son John Howard King. Percy died in 1933. The business of Bridgland & King was still in existence in 1945, but possibly this was the rival firm. P.J. King’s moved to Collins Street, then Russell Street, Melbourne and later to Victoria Street, Abbotsford, continuing until amalgamated in the late 1980s into Cash’s Australia.
New finds from Helen; including a c.1950 and a c.1970 Embassy card, and a mid 1960s Beutron.
Helen pointed out that the historical claim that Tagua nut was made of hardened albumen may have been an error, even though it was quoted as such, so I’ve done some more research.
The first export statistics available from Colombia date from 1840, and from Ecuador from 1865. In Columbia the export industry declined in the 1920s and had finished by 1935. A remnant industry for button production and souvenirs remained in Eucador. Since 1990 an initative to promote sustainable rainforest industries has increased production. The palms have male and female individuals, with only the females producing the nuts. According to an article in the FAO document repository the ” endosperm of tagua, the vegetable ivory, is composed of large, thick-walled cells, whose main components are two long-chain polysaccharides – mannan A (45-48%) and mannan B (24-25%), cellulose (6-7.5%)”.
I’ve removed last night’s post as it appears that the RAAF blazer button (thanks Campbell) came from Christie’s, an military outfitters in Sydney (rather than Christie’s in Kapunda). According to their web page;
“Our firm was established in 1895 in Sydney, and were one of the first tenants in the Strand Arcade. Over the years we have moved about within the city, and currently sell from our city store at 276 Pitt St as well as manufacturing and wholesaling from our factory/office at Marrickville.”
William Christie started his business as a specialist umbrella maker. His father had come to Melbourne from Scotland when William was young although he later moved to Sydney. The business also sold ladies wear, Scottish dress and accessories as well as military dress acessories and flags.
Fundraising Buttons: part 4
Right from the start fundraising buttons were intended for collecting, and people did! Stories appeared in newspapers about these collectors. Sometimes mothers passed on their war time to their children. Members of the Patrick family (manufacturers of the buttons) built up impressive collections.
Newcastle Morning Herald, 10th September 1949.
For further information see: http://www.ephemerasociety.org.au/2014/04/buttons-for-collectors-comforts-for-soldiers/
Fundraising Buttons: part 3
Considering that millions of fundraising buttons were made and sold both during and after WW1, it is amazing that only one family was responsible for most of their manufacture.
Mr Arthur William Patrick of Melbourne was printing, coping, enlarging, colouring and enamelling photographs from around 1887. He was the first to make celluloid buttons in Australia. A brother, Mr Alfred Ernest Patrick, set up a photo medallion and picture framing business in Redfern, Sydney around 1899. A third brother, Mr Walter Francis Patrick, started producing buttons in Adelaide in 1918. In that year Mr A.E. Patrick estimated his factory alone had made buttons of over a thousand differing designs in a 2 year period. About 2 million buttons a year were being made for the ‘Commonwealth Button Fund’ which oversaw fund raising in Melbourne. During WW2 more than 7 million buttons were produced from Sydney.
The manufacture of these buttons involved multiple steps. The design was printed on paper then adhered to celluloid sheeting. The buttons were then cut by die from the sheets. The tin shells to which the designs were attached were cut from thin sheets of tin by a power press. Thicker tin was also cut by press for the backing of the buttons, including cutting the clip for the pin. The pins were attached by hand before all the parts (print,shell and back) were feed into a machine for clamping together. It 1918 girls were being employed to point the pins by hand, but a machine was being developed to automate this process!
Working with celluloid could be dangerous. There were fires in both the Melbourne and Sydney factories. Post war the Patricks were still making buttons for fundraising as well as for cricket and football clubs. The company continues today as ‘The Patricks Group’.
Below are some political and souvenir buttons.
Some competitors included Edmond Platt-Ruskin and Alfred Edward Seymour Stokes, both of Sydney, Thomas George Keiller, of Windsor, Melbourne, and Atkinson & Co. of Adelaide.