14th May 2020

Please note this blog’s new address: austbuttonhistory.com.au
Badges and Buttons
‘Revival of interest in souvenirs of the Great War has led many persons, not all of them returned soldiers, to begin collecting war relics. I have received inquiries concerning the value of all manner of objects, from coins dug up in Palestine to regimental buttons. The true collector doesn’t bother about values; his interest is centred in the souvenirs themselves.
As regards medals, the collector is restricted, and rightly, in my opinion. It is against Defence regulations, I believe, for anyone to possess British naval or military medals, the winners of which are still living, without premission from the authorities. The collector may apply for a permit.
But I am not now dealing with medals, war relics are of so many kinds that the collector has a wide choice. Badges and buttons are popular. When I was serving with the A.I.F. I met many keen collectors. The usual method was to fasten the buttons and badges to your money belt, or a special belt of leather. Some of the belts I saw were covered in souvenirs. As much as £5 was paid in the field for a belt collection of regimental buttons.
Badges appeal to me more than the buttons; they are little works of art, in many cases. Look at the illustrations of two British regimental badges!
Some collectors mount their badges on a board covered in black or dark blue velvet — pin them to the material, which makes an effective background. Others keep the badges in small cardboard boxes lined with velvet or some other soft material.
It is very interesting to learn the meanings of regimental devices, and the Latin mottoes, as “semper fidelis” (always faithful), “celer et audax” (swift and bold), and “omnia audax” (to dare all).
Cartridges are included in collections of war souvenirs ; but they belong to the section weapons of war, regarding which I may give some notes later, if I find that Campfire
Club members are interested in the subject. I should like to hear from any of you who have collections of war relics. Give descriptions of any item o which a story is attached.
Here are some examples of ‘Trench Art’ and sweetheart’ jewellery  from the collection of the National War Memorial.

A soldier from a Coast-watchers Battlion making buttons from cowrie shells at Port Hedland, West Australia during WW2.

Uniform buttons made into hatpins.

Embroidered buttons made by a POW in Sumatra..

A canvas german MG08 machine gun belt that has been converted for wearing on the waist. It is adorned with British, French, German, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand and U.S buttons and badges.

White metal cuff links in the form of linked white metal AMF buttons made by KC Luke

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