Fundraising Buttons: part 3



Fundraising Buttons: part 3

Considering that millions of fundraising buttons were made and sold both during and after WW1, it is amazing that only one family was responsible for most of their manufacture.

Vote Yes for Conscription button, 1916.

Red Cross button, 1918.











Mr Arthur William Patrick  of Melbourne was  printing, coping, enlarging, colouring and enamelling photographs from around 1887. He was the first to make celluloid buttons in Australia. A brother,  Mr Alfred Ernest Patrick, set up a photo medallion and picture framing business in Redfern, Sydney around 1899.  A third brother, Mr Walter Francis Patrick, started producing buttons in Adelaide in 1918. In that year Mr A.E. Patrick estimated his factory alone had made buttons of over a thousand differing designs in a 2 year period. About 2 million buttons a year were being made for the ‘Commonwealth Button Fund’ which oversaw fund raising in Melbourne. During WW2 more than 7 million buttons were produced from Sydney.

Mr A.E. Patrick


The manufacture of these buttons involved multiple steps. The design was printed on paper then adhered to celluloid sheeting. The buttons were then cut by die from the sheets. The tin shells to which the designs were attached were cut from thin sheets of tin by a power press. Thicker tin was also cut by press for the backing of the buttons, including cutting the clip for the pin. The pins were attached by hand before all the parts (print,shell and back) were feed into a machine for clamping together. It 1918 girls were being employed to point the pins by hand, but a machine was being developed to automate this process!

Working with celluloid could be dangerous. There were fires in both the Melbourne and Sydney factories. Post war the Patricks were still making buttons for fundraising as well as for cricket and football clubs.  The company continues today as ‘The Patricks Group’.

Below are some political and souvenir buttons.

Royal souvenir button produced in Melbourne in 1958.

Produced in Melbourne circa 1968-1971.









Some competitors included Edmond Platt-Ruskin and Alfred Edward Seymour Stokes, both of Sydney,  Thomas George Keiller, of Windsor, Melbourne, and Atkinson & Co. of Adelaide.

Red Cross and Trench Comforts, 1919 by Atkinson & Co

Italian Red Cross Day, 1918. By Alfred E S Stokes.

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