21st February 2017

As I’ve mentioned,  I’m working on dating carded buttons.  Delving back into Trove, (the NLA’s digital resource),  I found an advert from McDowell’s store in Sydney published in The Sun on 2nd February, 1950.

Detail from the ad showing a card of "Tub Buttons".

Detail from the ad showing a card of “Tub Buttons” bottom right.

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Here’s an example of a card with the”sheets on a clothes line” graphic.  Cards of buttons were advertised for sale from at least as early as 1890 in Australian newspapers,  so the carding of buttons is not a new phenomenon.  Most (although not all) cards were of one,  two,  three dozen, or even a gross of buttons.  The ad detail below shows how cards of “American boilproof washing buttons” were available in 1940 (also from The Sun).

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The development of plastics had been accelerated by the needs of WW2 so that plastic “wash”, “washing”, “boiling” and ‘boil proof” buttons were becoming the norm,  and would come to dominate the market,  at the expense of mother-of-pearl buttons. “Washing” buttons were advertised from 1912 onwards.  “Boiling Buttons” were advertised from 1940 to 1954. “English Beutron wash buttons” were advertised in 1945 and “Beutron Boiling buttons” from 1947 through to 1953.


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