From around 1936 until it was declared insolvent in May 1939, Reginald Charles Norris and John Henry Spiers traded as Norris and Spiers, “manufacturers of buttons, buckles and casein products” from a factory in City Road, and then from Mary Street, Surry Hills, Sydney.
John Spiers (1915-1975) may have continued in button manufacturing and/or wholesaling, as a company called “Halk & Spiers” existed from 1941 to at least 1961 as button, buckle and fancy goods wholesalers in George Street, Sydney. He was described as a manufacturer and an importer.
Reginald Charles Norris applied for registration of designs for buttons, dress accessories and for brooches from 1941 to 1949. Presumably he sold some of these through his firms ‘Norris Accessories’ (registered in November 1942) and ‘Rex C. Norris’. These two firms were combined in July 1946 as ‘Rex C. Norris Pty Ltd’ which was was described as a ‘fancy jewellery warehouse’.
In 1950 (under the name Rex Charles Norris) he applied for registration of designs for buttons and fancy buttons (the name Rex is a diminutive version of Reginald). According to the Rex Agencies web page, “Rex Buttons” began in Victoria in 1950, however, it actually started in 1940 in High Street, Armadale.
They made buttons, accessories, ornaments and toys and advertised their spraying and lacquring services.They claimed that “over the decades (they) grew to be the second largest button and buckle maker in Australia” (presumably behind Beutron). Rex C. Norris Pty. Ltd. became Rex-Norris Trading Pty.Ltd. some time after 1964 until 1977. The business then became Rex Agencies (Australia), then in 2003 Selit-Rex Australia, run by Jeffrey Charles Bird. Mr Bird died in 2012.
Who was Rex C. Norris?
Reginald (Rex) Nathan Charles Wylie Norris was born in 1903 in Castlemaine, Victoria. In 1925 he is listed in the electoral rolls as living in Prahran employed as a labourer. In 1928 he and his wife Jeanie, are living in Toorak, and he is now a railway employee. By 1930 he has moved to Randwick East, Sydney, and is listed as working as a ‘speciality artist’. In 1936 he is listed as a manufacturer, and by 1943 a company director. On the passenger list of the ship ‘Strathnaver’ in 1951 leaving London bound for Sydney are listed Reginald Charles, DOB 19 July 1903, Importer, and his wife Jeanie and daughter Diana. He is last listed in the electoral rolls as a merchant in 1963. So how did a labourer and railway employee come to be a designer, company director and importer?