Monthly Archives: March 2020

31st March 2020

Please note the new address of this blog:


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.

30th March 2020

I’ve just added a new Coronet button to my card of these lovely, glossy casein buttons. Most here are circular impressed designs, some with hand=painted detailing. They also made novelty designs such as the grey leaf:

Maxart and Travalon:

Received some tubes of  mixed buttons, but only 4 still had the original button on the lid to link them to the manufacturer:




29th March 2020

Seen online:












In order clockwise from top left:   Beauclaire, Beutron, Beauclaire, Beutron and Coronet.

We are all missing out usual get togethers. However, it is a perfect time to Spring clean, sort and card our buttons, or any other treasures. Consider sending a button “care pack” to your fellow collectors; even if the buttons aren’t ‘needed’, it will be a lovely surprise, and can be shared with other collectors. Check out online resources. The Victorian Button Collectors have all their old magazines online. So does the National Button Society. The British Button Society has an archives (? of its magazines, this is not stated). It may be worth a years subscription to you to access these resources.

26th March 2020

New finds:

Leda buttons.

Cygnet and Delphi buttons do not turn up often.

Probable pre 1951 General Plastics buttons.

The yellow buttons look very much like the type sold on Coronet cards. The novelty buttons are just for fun!

24th March 2020

Please note the new address of this blog:


New finds:


Sewing Buttons onto Cards:

“Carding” was very poorly paid work, often undertaken by poor women and their children. Many writers railing against sweated labour mentioned the state of these worker in Birmingham, America, and here in Australia.

The Worker, 22nd February 1912.

Daily Standard, 14th September 1914.

None the less, some were glad for the work.

Daily Herald, 27th November 1914. This is regarding workers in Britain during the war.

Some put a positive spin on the underpayment of women, but not all.

The Daily Telegraph, 10th Nov 1949.

Australian Women’s Weekly, 330th December 1964.

Published in the Tribune (Sydney), 9th August 1945.

The Sun (Sydney),  22nd February 1950.

Tribune, 26th Oct 1955.


22nd March 2020



On the “Other Pre-Federation” page ( see I mention the notorious story of the ‘Kangaroo Office’, both because of it’s link with Thomas Stokes, and as an interesting story in its own right. The Queenslander newspaper series on Numismatic History in 1895 shed more light on the story, as the author had interviewed Thomas Scaife, one of the managers of this failed mint …

One of the ‘coins’.

A Kangaroo Office token.


20th March 2020

Stokes and Martin:

Examples of the company’s work as illustrated in newspapers: Unless otherwise noted, these illustrations come from a series of articles entitled ‘A Numismatic History of Australia’ that ran in The Queenslander in 1895.

Token issued in the 1860s for use in the Atheneum Club, Melbourne.

Trade token, around 1858-1862.

Medallion of Sir Hercules Robinson, Governor of N. S. Wales dated 1877-8

Design of Medals awarded at the 1881 Melbourne International Exhibition. (Published in Illustrated Australian News 6th April 1881)

Wesleyan Methodist Jubilee 1886.

A couple of the approximately 40 Jubilee medals issued in 1887. Many of these were produced by Stokes & Martin.

“Town Hall Perth W.A.”

Ballaarat Savings Bank

Badge of the Australian Federation league. (Published in Weekly Times, 21st may 1898)

Coronation medals presented to WA children in 1911.

Western Mail, 17th June 1911.

Army Championships Victoria.

The Herald, 4th December 1913.

The Mercury, 18th January 1938.