Monthly Archives: July 2019

31st July 2019

Please note the new address of this blog is:


New finds:

Amazing how often these ducks turn up. They originally appeared on a Norris C. Rex card then on a Beauclaire  ‘Tiny Tot “card

Tailors’ buttons:

A. Baxter, Colac:

Andrew Baxter (1883-1933) was born in Galashiels, Scotland. From around 1913-1916 he worked  in Geelong, then from around 1921 until his death, in Colac.

Albury Banner and Wodonga Express, 5th July 1907.

G. Bailey, Daylesford:

George was born in Ballarat in 1859. He worked as a tailor in Daylesford from at least 1902 until 1909, perhaps even through to 1917. However, from around 1914 onwards his main employment was as the local rate collector. He died in 1942.

Advocate, 25th January 1902.


28th July 2019

Tailor’s button:

J. J. Larkins, Daylesford

John James Larkins (1857-1919) was born in Ballarat, and was a partner in the firm of Harrison, Larkins & Co until 1885. Harrison continued in Ballarat, with Larkins working from Vincent Street, Daylesford.

Weekly Times, 1st December 1900.

Seen online:

These are both advertised as c.1880; certainly the crown is a Queen Victoria Crown, which dates them up to her death in 1901. If they are by Stokes & Martin, then they date up to 1893. If, however, they are by Stokes & Sons they date after that year.


26th July 2019

please note: the new address of this blog is


New find:

Royal Australian Engineers:

It is hard to read, but the motto around the Royal Cypher is “Honi soit qui mal y pense” (Evil be to him who evil thinks).

This corps was formed by the amalgamation of the various colonial/state engineer corps after Federation, the earliest being the Corps of Engineers in Victoria in 1860.

Tailors’ buttons:

R. P. Ferguson, Rochester:

Robert Pitts Ferguson’s (1892-1968) parents came to Victoria in 1851 and reached Rochester by 1854. In 1914 he was listed as a draper, but in 1915 in his WW1 enrollment papers he is described as a salesman. Did he think it sounded better?

Bendigonian, 1st February 1917.

After the war he is again described as a draper in 1919, then a tailor (and curiously, also a tradesman) in Rochester from 1921 until 1927. He is living in Camberwell as a newsagent in 1928, then in Brighton as a tailor from 1931-1937. During WW2 he re-enlisted, and is described as a soldier in Seymour until 1954. Therefore, the button may date pre WW1, or until 1927.


24th July 2019

Please note: the new address for this blog is austbuttonhistory,com


New find:

1980s Maxart

Seen online:

1950s Woolworths and 1960s Beutron.


Tailor’s button:

Chas. Jones & co, Brisbane:

Detectoring find by Tim Jellicoe.

This company of drapers first advertised in 1878. They were located in the Kingsford’s Buildings, Queens Street, Brisbane. In 1890 the ‘bankrupt stock’ of the firm was being sold.

Mr Jones was Charles Henry Jones, born in 1848 in New South Wales. He moved to Brisbane in 1873 and stayed there until perhaps the time of the bankruptcy in 1890, before moving back to Sydney where he died in 1898, aged only 50 years.

23rd July 2019

Potato buttons:

I had previously noticed news articles about buttons made from potato, but was a bit sceptical. However, information about these buttons appears in the”German Button Industry” BIOS report.

” A considerable stock of  Anras Sheet material was found which was a Casein substitute material made from potato starch by Messrs. Anras Combine at Veendam. Production of Anras buttons was similar to normal Casein production but the material was very hard and could not be polished with a chemical polish.” The report then details how both Casein and Andras buttons were polished in five stages that took 4-6 days!

Here is the earliest article I found in Trove:

Clarence and Richmond Examiner 29 December 1891.

and the latest:

The Sunday Times (Sydney) 11th March 1906

22nd July 2019



The German Button Industry: B.I.O.S. report 1/1/47

I was surprised that such a report existed. How important could the button industry be to the British Government? Quoting from the Library of Congress … “Following right behind Allied combat troops into occupied areas, representatives of the British Intelligence Objectives Subcommittee (BIOS), the Combined Intelligence Objectives Subcommittee (CIOS), and the U.S. Field Intelligence Agency, Technical (FIAT), visited German manufacturing plants, research laboratories, and other war-related facilities to interview managers, scientists, and engineers. After collecting relevant documents, these groups wrote technical briefs on individual subjects, production processes and new technologies. They also prepared reports on whole industries – notably the German dye industry – and on construction projects, such as German underground factories.”

This report included details on thermosetting and thermoplastic resins, casein, wood, MOP,  ‘natural horn’ and metal buttons as well as the machinery and chemicals used. I think the tone of the report is one of checking up on the state of the German industry, checking if there was machinery or techniques that could benefit British industry, rather than on how German industry could be helped. Some individuals , pointedly described as anti-Nazi, were named as potentially worth taking to England for further questioning for British Industry’s benefit.

Summarising from the report paints a sad picture of the state of Germany at that time …  I have left spelling and punctuation as in the report.

General Resume

“As far as the manufacture of moulded buttons is concerned, it can be said that nothing of any particular importance was found during the visit to Germany.”

“The Country as a whole was found to be well up to date with Injection Moulding Machinery but behind the times with Compression Moulding … due to the fact that from 1938 onwards, no progress was made as the industry was not considered essential to the war effort.”

“… German firms are able to produce a very high class product with plant very much out of date (because) they have an abundance of well trained and highly skilled labour which, because of very low wages existing, is able to replace the use of more modern machinery. The position with the wages is that no change has been made (in 1946) since 1938.”

“… by the use of cheap labour … a potential danger existed to our export market if they should be re-opened to German competition.”

The Casein Button Trade was found … to be practically non-existent since no supplies of Casein Sheet Material were available.”

“The Horn Button Trade was likewise non-existent … one firm trying to make a few Horn Buttons merely because they had nothing else …”

“The Metal Button Industry was found to be in excellent condition … Samples of their products were brought back.”

“Wooden buttons were found being made by all and sundry. This was because of the shortage of other materials. In general their products were quite crude and were sold merely because of the great shortage of buttons.”

“As everywhere, working time is 42 hours a week, due to the low calorie value of the present ration and the exhaustion of the workers.”

“In 1942 the premises (of a MOP button factory) were taken over in order to house Russian Forced Labour which was employed in a nearby factory. The factory was found to be still in a disorderly state. .. the proprietor was making a few articles from the small stock of shells which then existed in order to sell them to buy food for himself and his family. The manufacturing process was very primitive and done entirely by hand.”

In 1945 the Russian Occupation Forces confiscated nearly all ( of a particular) firms machinery. The proprietor, however had immediately ordered new machines …(some had been delivered, but a company supplying them)..were not now in a position to deliver anymore but that when the Russians Occupation Forces had finished dismantling their factory, they hoped to be able to resume delivery again on a smaller scale.”

“The factory (of one particular firm) was partly destroyed by fire at the end of the war. The firm employed foreign forced labour which it seemed, accounted for the fire.”



21st July 2019

Please note; the new address for this blog is


Tailors’ buttons:

T. Woodcock, Brisbane:

Thomas Woodcock, born in Lancashire in 1832, arrived in Brisbane in 1863. He was in partnership with Peter Phillips until 1877. Although he died in 1905, his firm continued until around 1924, moving from Albert Street to the new Fitzroy Buildings in Adelaide Street in 1913. I don’t know who continued under his name, as all his sons had died, and his daughters remained unmarried.


Sloan’s, Wangaratta:

Robert Macombe Sloan (1874-1956) was in partnership as ‘Clarkes & Sloan’ until 1912, then continued as ‘R. M. Sloan’ in Murphy Street, Wangaratta.

Weekly Times, 12th October 1912.

Wangaratta Chronicle 10th January 1914.

The familiar “Sloan’s” is used in print from 1915, so perhaps the button dates from then.

20th July 2019

This snippet shows when Beutron started manufacturing buttons in South Africa. Apparently, the government was encouraging foreign businesses to invest locally:

Overseas Trading, 16th November 1962.

Tailors’ buttons:

Williams & Weller, Dandenong:

A total mystery. There is no sign of them online!


Bert Saunders, Northcote:

Albert (Bert) Edward Saunders took over his fathers business on his death in 1915. He was still advertising in 1943.



19th July 2019

Please note the new address of this blog is:


Tailors’ buttons:

W. Roska, Bendigo:

A ladies’ and gentlemen’s tailor in Mitchell Street from 1910-1917.


Pool & Williams, Bendigo:

This button dates from a narrow time frame. In  January 1892 Alfred Morris Pool (1857-1930) and Joseph Thomas Williams started their business  in the premises previously occupied by the “London and American Clothing Company” in Mitchell Street, Sandhurst (later Bendigo). In February 1894, Williams left to go to Sydney, whilst Pool continued under the name “A. M. Pool”.

D. Cleary, Bendigo:

Dennis Cleary was born circa 1869 in Clare, Ireland. He came to Victoria in 1869. In 1873 he went to Bendigo and opened a tailoring business in McCrae Street. In 1905 it became D. Cleary & Sons. Dennis died in 1912. His sons continued to trade until around 1930.