16th June 2021

Plastic Buttons

As with G. Herring and their brand name ‘Beutron’, (discussed yesterday), there was a period of time for General Plastics when buttons were produced but before their famous brand ‘Beauclaire’ was coined. This was from 1941, when O.C. Rheubens was renamed General Plastics, until 1950, when the name Beauclaire was first used. The card above is an example of buttons from this period. Some of these cards have ” A G.P. Product” printed on the card.










This is a trade sample card from Terries with pre-decimal pricing. Terries Pty. Ltd has wholesaled fashion accessories from 1955. They are based in Nowra, New South Wales.

15th June 2021

Bonnie Buttons

I suspect these were either imported by G. Herring Pty Ltd, or made here by the company. G.Herring was importing buttons from  around 1936-7, and selling them on G. Herring branded cards. From 1939, if not before, they were making plastic buttons in Sydney.

As G.Herring was importing and/or making casein buttons from around 1937, but did not use the brand Beutron until 1946, it was likely that some other brand name(s) were used. I only have two other partial Bonnie Buttons cards; one has buttons identical to an example of  British Made “Beutron Wash buttons”. The ability of buttons to stand up to boiling was a big advertising feature in the 1940-50s.


Tub Buttons

 “Tub buttons” were advertised from 1947-1950.

14th June 2021

80th (Staffordshire Volunteers) Regiment of Foot

From relicmilitaria.com

In 1836 the regiment started escorting convicts to Australia, arriving from October that year with 25 further detachments over the next two years. They had a long deployment, serving for around seven years in NSW, Melbourne, and Norfolk Island. The small detachment in Melbourne was called on to try to quell sectarian rioting that took place in 1846. From 1841-4 a detachment was sent to New Zealand, were they cleared land, built a barracks and organised a treaty. They returned to Sydney to leave for India.  A terrible shipwreck occurred on the way to Calcutta …

The Sentinel (Sydney), 25th June 1845 page 2.

51st (2nd Yorkshire West Riding) Regiment of Foot

The regiment traveled to Australia in detachments as escorts to prisoners in 1837. The first detachment arrived in January 1838 to relieve the 80th in Sydney.

The Colonist (Sydney), 19th October 1837.

They served in New South Wales, Western Australia and Tasmania before leaving for India in 1846.

The Courier (Hobart), 18th March 1846 page 3. This article shows examples of how British regiments were moved from colony to colony, and country to country, depending on security concerns.

Library NSW. An officer of the 51st Regiment, c.1845-55.

13th June 2021

58th (Rutlandshire) Regiment of Foot

Coutesy “Russell Carter: The circle was inscribed ‘Gibralter’, ‘Egypt’ and ‘Maida’. The tunic buttons issued in 1855 had two types of numeral, one large and one small.


With thanks to Sheryll.








This regiment only served in New South wales from November 1843, taking over duties from the 80th Regiment, until they were needed in New Zealand, and left to serve there from 1845-47. Those not wishing to settle in New Zealand left for ‘home’ in 1859.

The Australian (Sydney), 27th May 1847 page 3.



99th (Lanarkshire) Regiment of Foot

This button from Cultman Collectables is described only as Victorian.

The 99th (Lanarkshire) Regiment of Foot formed in 1824. It amalgamated with the 62nd (Wiltshire) Regiment of Foot in 1881 to form the Duke of Edinburgh’s (Wiltshire regiment).

They served in the colonies from 1842 to 1856, although from 1845-51  contingents were sent to the wars in New Zealand.  Throughout 1842 and into 1843, ships of convicts arrived in Hobart under guard of the 99th . On one ship several soldiers of the 99th were involved in an attempted mutiny.  Another ship was wrecked with the loss of life of around 300 persons. Detachments were also sent to Sydney, Newcastle and Morton Bay. They got into trouble in 1847, and the 11th Regiment had to be deployed to settle things down …

Australian Town and Country Journal (Sydney), 18th August 1900 page 34. A story from 1845.

The Mercury (Hobart), 15th July 1939 page 10.

The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser, 25th October 1905 page 1049. This was the first war memorial to be erected in Australia.

When they sailed for home in 1856 over 400 men stayed behind in the colonies, transferring to other units.

Australian War Memorial #REL/18964.001. Officer of 99th full dress coatee, made c1842-48. According to the AWM: all  he buttons ware marked Jennins & Co, London, are convex closed gilt buttons and bear a Queen Victoria crown and the number ’99’. 




12th June 2021

Mystery Badge

Does anyone know what this badge for? It was made by K. G. Luke and was owned by a family from Port Melbourne, possibly in the 1930-40s.


18th (Royal Irish) Regiment of Foot

Courtesy of Noble Numismatics.

When the New south Wales Corps was replaced by the 73rd Regiment of Foot in 1808, the intention was for units to be rotated through the Colonies in 4-5 year stints:

The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser, 2nd July 1809.

In reality, the periods of service varied from less than one year to twelve. One regiment that made only a fleeting visit was the 18th Regiment, returning from fighting in New Zealand in 1870.

Weekly Times (Melbourne), 1st January 1870 page 11.

The Ballarat Courier (Vic), 8th January 1870 page 2.

Detachments were sent to Adelaide, Melbourne and Tasmania to replace the men of the 14th who had been posted there. In March, the remainder of the Regiment arrive from Auckland. The 18th and the Royal Artillery left in September to return to Britain, although a number of men had absconded in Sydney, not wishing to sail to England! In at least one case, this was because the soldier had married a local woman. Some deserters made sure the last of the troops had sailed before giving themselves up. The vacated barracks were to be used by Volunteer Corps.

Gympie Times and Mary River Mining Gazette (Qld), 7th September 1870 page 4.



11th June 2021

New Finds

These NSW police uniform buttons date from a narrow time frame. The “King’s Crown” dates it from 1902, and the backmark from pre 1907. The ‘Crossed Sword Trade mark’ was used by Thomas Carlyle Ltd., one of several British button manufacturers who amalgamated to form Buttons Limited in 1907. (The company used the trademark, and others, after the merger, but with the new name.)

The finish is unusual, too. it appears to be a coating of a matt white finish to imitate white metal.

Victorian Rifles Regiments

See Cossum page 10.







As mentioned, the Cross sword trade mark was one of several belonging to maker Thomas Carlyle. He was a Birmingham button manufacturer from 1875. His firm was registered in 1897, then merged with others to form Buttons Limited.

NB: Some buttons marked Thomas Carlyle, Aston, Birmingham, England are dated on the internet as, for example, c.1914, or pre 1930. The presence of the Queen Victoria crown on them should have been a clue!

10th June 2021

Mercantile Marine Buttons with “marketing” backmarks

According to Wikipedia: A merchant navy or merchant marine or mercantile marine is the fleet of merchant vessels (i.e. carrying passengers and/or cargo for hire) that are registered in a specific country. The title “Merchant Navy” was bestowed on British shipping fleets in honour of their service during WW1, with similar terms adopted by other nations.

Union Steamship Company

Three sizes of uniform buttons. Gilt is for officers, white metal for ratings. The rope design of rim has been traditional for naval uniforms from 1774.

Backs of the above:

‘Special Quality’/ Firmin London Firmin & Sons ltd 108 St. Martins Lane London. Note the backs of the Firmin buttons have a “spun back” that have been burnished smooth, so that the  crimped edge of the front shell is indistinguishable with the back plate.


Adelaide Steamship Company


‘Extra Superb’









Backmarks such as ‘extra superb’ and ‘special quality’ were marketing terms used by button manufacturers to assure the customer of the quality of their product. The terms “double gilt’ and ‘treble gilt’ were originally to specify that the buttons had been coated twice or thrice with the British Government mandated levels of gold content in the gilt coating. There was a period when quality/materials/methods of production were compromised to save money, and buttons soon lost their gilding and looked shabby. Other marketing terms included ‘extra rich’, ‘best orange gilt’, ‘superfine’, extra fine’, ‘rich orange’, ‘treble standard’, ‘extra treble standard’, ‘rich colour’, and so on!

The Penny Magazine supplement on Birmingham, dated 1844 gives this information:

“A large part of the ingenuity of Birmingham has been displayed in finding means to give a golden surface at a small price. No other artisans can make a given weight of gold go so far in gilding trinkets as those of Birmingham; and it thus arises that cheapness of price has nowhere else reached to such an extraordinary extent. “All is not gold that glitters,” may be said of gilt jewellery generally; but it must in fairness be said, that the surface of these articles is really gold, for however thin the film may be, yet in the cheapest work it is continuous and unbroken, differing from the coating given to better work only in the degree of thinness—except indeed that some of the gold may be more or less “fine” than others. The substance of which the trinket is made may be copper or brass, or one of the numerous modern varieties of “white metal” but all alike are susceptible of receiving a superficial coating of gold. The method of gilding is generally analogous to that which we shall presently speak of in respect of buttons; but the electro-process, described in our last Supplement, is becoming extensively applied to this purpose.”

“The gilding is a more elaborate process. The gilt buttons are, in the odd but concise language of the workmen, called “all-overs” or “tops,” according as they are gilt all over, or only on the outer, exposed surface. There is also a distinction between the “yellow” and the “orange” gilding, the former being affected in colour by the previous use of a mixture called “similor” (“gold-resembling,” as it seems to signify), made of zinc and mercury. We will therefore select an “orange all-over” and an “orange top” as examples of the processes adopted.”


New Zealand Shipping button









This button has a ‘meander pattern’ or ‘Greek key’ as a backmark. Whilst there was a manufacturer John Spencer 1799-1837 who used this pattern on the back of his buttons, that would be too early for this shipping company. It is another marketing-type backmark, possibly to suggest ‘classical quality’?

9th June 2021

Women War Workers part 2.

The Australasian (Melbourne), 24th May 1941 page 22. Explanation: Stonnington House in Melbourne was used from 1939-1953 as a convalescent home. Red Cross House had moved from 44 Latrobe Street to 289 Swanston Street in 1940. Kurneh was the home of Sir Norman and Lady Brookes, used during WW2 as a convalescent home for officers.


8th June 2021

Women War Workers: Part 1

Last year I detailed some of the many ways women “played their part” during WW2.




Yesterday I highlighted the Women’s Air training Corps. Here are some more: wouldn’t like to sort herbs for the boys?


Australian Women’s Legion

The AWL was a patriotic voluntary organisation that raised funds for the war effort and gave practical support to military personnel within Australia.

The Australasian (Melbourne), 24th May 1941 page 21.


Red Cross Transport Drivers

The Australasian (Melbourne), 24th May 1941 page 21.


Melbourne Militors

The Australasian (Melbourne), 24th May 1941 page 21.

Australian War Memorial #6979.

State Library Victoria Image H99.201/4048


Women’s Reserve Emergency Navy Service

Not to be confused with the WRANS, this volunteer group started in Brisbane prior to WW2, then expanded to other states. It was renamed the Women’s Naval Service (WNS) in December 1941.

The Australasian (Melbourne), 24th May 1941 page 21.

Australian war Memorial #00552.001

07 June 2021

Women’s Air Training Corps


Available at Australian Militaria Sales. There is one from Stokes and one from Sheridan’s.  https://www.militaria-sales.com.au/

The WATC was formed at Archerfield in Brisbane in July 1939 as a voluntary auxiliary service for local women interested in supporting the RAAF, although the War Council did not formally approve it until January 1941. When Flying Officer Bell, the founder of the corps, moved to Melbourne she was asked to establish a local group. Other groups were then established around Australia. The members were trained in communications, transport and clerical work for future positions in services such as the Women’s Auxiliary Australian Air Force (WAAAF) when it was formed in 1941.

A famous member of this corps was Nancy Bird (later Nancy Bird-Walton). She was Commandant from 1942-1944

Australian War Memorial #044461

The Australasian (Melbourne), 24th May 1941 page 21.

The Australian Women’s Weekly, 27th July 1940 page 31.