21st May 2016

Carol,  you have a lot to answer for!   Sooner or later you’ve got to stop sending me mysteries to solve!  (Only kidding.  It’s fun.)  Her latest challenge is to tell the story of buttons made into hat pins.  The following is taken from a a presentation to the Victorian Button Collectors Club in February:

Hat pins were fashionable, and necessary,  from circa 1850-1930’s to secure one’s hat upon one’s head!  Hats of this era were large and elaborate,  requiring pinning to stop them coming off or being blown away.  They consisted of a metal shaft with a decorative head,  and later on,  a safety protector to guard against accidental stabbing!   Mind you,  ladies were actually encouraged to use them as defensive weapons against “unwelcome advances”!  During WW1 women had made,  or DIY,  their sweetheart’s uniform buttons  into hat pins.  Patriotic sets of buttons and hat pins were also produced for women to wear to show support of the war effort.

Here are some button/hat pin examples:

Hat pin made from button backmark; Sol Davis Melbourne

Hat pin made from button with backmark ‘Sol Davis Melbourne’.

Solomon (Solly/Sol) Davis was a tailor /clothing manufacturer who lived in Carlton and had premises in Russell and Lonsdale Sts.,  Melbourne before and after WW1.  In 1931 Sol. Davis Pty. Ltd went into liquidation.

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From carol’s collection: button has backmark ‘Lincoln Stuart & Co. Melbourne’.

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Image H28190/390 National Library of Australia.   Francis Stuart c.1888

Francis (Frank) Stuart lived 1844 -1910.  He was apprenticed to a draper in Sydney,  but as he eloped with his bosses’ daughter,  he high-tailed it to Melbourne in 1866.  He worked for McIvor & Lincoln,  and on the death of McIvor in 1889 the company was registered as Lincoln Stuart & Co. ltd.  In 1885 they were contracted to supply uniforms for the NSW Sudan regiment.  The Australian War Memorial has a doublet from a uniform of the Victorian Scottish Regiment (c 1900) and  Museum Victoria has a straw boater hat from the company.  The company was taken over by John Snow & Co. Ltd in 1926.  See more in his biography; http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/stuart-francis-frank-8704

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Image H96.160/893 National Library of Australia;  company advertising

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From carol’s collection: backmark ‘David Jones & Co. Sydney.’

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William Howard Smith,  mariner and ship owner,  started a steamship company in Australia in 1883,  which continued until 2001.   See his biography http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/smith-william-howard-4620

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