18th January 2021


Sydney Mail, 20th August 1930 page 48.

Less valuable than (and inferior to) mother-of-pearl, prior to 1912 only negligible amounts had been gathered there, but during WW1 it became a source of income for pealers. Trocus was taken along the Barrier Reef as far south as Lady Elliott Island. ‘Shellers’ operated out of Cairns, Townsville and Mackay, sailing to Thursday Island to trade their catch.

The industry grew, with all the shell being exported to Japan. During the 1920s over-harvesting occurred; limits had to be placed on taking of shell below a minimum size. The “greedy” Japanese came to dominate this fishing industry. Streaks of red or reddish-brown on the back of a pearl button indicates it originated from trochus.

The Week (Brisbane), 6th July 1917 page 18.


The Brisbane Courier, 17th November 1923 page 10. During 1923 the value of trochus exported from Queensland was estimated at £13,000.

The Australasian (Melbourne), 23rd October 1926 page 78.


Papuan Courier (Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea), 19th October 1928 page 7.


Although the rise of plastic buttons greatly reduced the market for pearl buttons, the industry continues. Trochus is still sold to button makers.


17th January 2021

Tid-bits from Trove

Australian Town and Country Journal (Sydney), 16th February 1901 page 31.

The Albury Banner and Wodonga Express (NSW), 11th November 1921 page 32. In 1921 the button industry was (almost) non-existent in Australia.

Zeehan and Dundas Herald (Tas), 12th November 1921 page 3.

The Australian Women’s Weekly, 17th June 1953 page 30. British and American colours must be better!

16th January 2021

New Finds


Terries is a distributor/wholesale firm dating from from 1954.


St John’s Volunteer Aid Detachment

Backmark: K. G. Luke Pty Ltd Melb The buttons date 1930-1953.

There is an interesting history of the V.A.D. on Wikipedia:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voluntary_Aid_Detachment

From Trove:

In 1909 the British Red Cross and St John’s Ambulance Association together formulated a volunteer citizens nursing service which became known as Volunteer Aid Detachments,  with nursing sections for women and a pharmacy/tradesmen/orderly section for men. The women were to supplement the Regular Army nursing service. A similar scheme was suggested in Australia in 1914.

National Archives : V.A.D.  field day in Sydney, 1942.

Examiner (Launceston), 23rd December 1953 page 7.

The Mercury (Hobart), 22nd March 1954 page 6.




Air Niugini cuff-links







Air Niugini Limited is New Guini’s national airline, based at Jacksons International Airport in Port Moresby. It was established in 1973 to service domestic needs, but had since expanded internationally.

15th January 2021

Government Uniforms

As I have mentioned, not all uniform buttons were specific. The use of “VR” buttons generically for government uniforms was discussed on 9th December 2020:  http://www.austbuttonhistory.com/uncategorized/9th-december-2020/

  ‘Crown’ buttons were also used generically. A couple examples were shown recently:  http://www.austbuttonhistory.com/uncategorized/10th-january-2021/

The use of ‘crown buttons’ for government employees is described here:

The West Australian (Perth), 6th February 1932 page 4. From a story of the 1st Parliament in Perth in 1832, describing the dress of the Colonial Secretary.

The Goulburn Herald and County of Argyle Advertiser (NSW), 20th September 1856 page 6.

The Western Australian Times (Perth), 20th July 1875 page 2.

Commonwealth of Australia Gazette, 4th May 1907 page 760. Part of the Tasmanian Post Office uniforms.


14th January 2021

Another Golden Fleece uniform swap card

Adelaide Lancers

From the back of the card: ” This trooper belongs to one of this country’s most historic units. Formerly the Adelaide Mounted Rifles, in 1886 it was redesignated The Adelaide Lancers. In 1895 the unit was absorbed into the South Australian Mounted Rifles, becoming ‘A’ Squadron. Eventually this unit became the 16th Australian Light Horse.” Cossum has no SA cavalry uniform buttons: presumably they wore the SAV or SAM buttons shown on pages 18 &19.

The history of defence forces in general, and the mounted troops in particular, in the Colony of South Australia were confusing. Hopefully the following is correct!

Along with volunteer infantry and artillery, the first cavalry, the Adelaide Mounted Rifles was formed in 1854. Confusingly, the same unit was also referred to both as the  Adelaide Volunteer Mounted Rifles and the South Australian Mounted Rifles in the newspapers. This original unit did not lasted long, disbanding in 1856 due to lack of government support I suspect.

Adelaide Times, 10th October 1854 page 2.

Other volunteer cavalry came and went. From 1866-1870 there was the South Australian Regiment of Volunteer Cavalry comprised of three troops. It was re-named in 1867:

Adelaide Observer, 1st February 1868 page 4. Various troops were named in honour of the Duke who visited South Australia in 1867.

Chronicle (Adelaide), 20th March 1930 page 42.

The Mail (Adelaide), 7th April 1934 page 1.
“An Adelaide Volunteer cavalry-man of about 1867. The jacket is scarlet with a white sash and gold braid. The trousers are black with gold stripes.”

In 1860 “a new phase of the volunteer movement” occurred:

The Sydney Morning Herald, 13th March 1860 page 2.

The Goolwa and Strathabyn cavalry formed around 1863.

Observer (Adelaide), 29th January 1910 page 29.Goolwa Cavalry trooper, 1868.

In 1877 a new Adelaide Mounted Rifles was formed. It was merged two years later with the afore mentioned Reedbeds Mounted Rifles Company. Then in 1887 (not 1886 as stated on the card) it was renamed the Adelaide Lancers, as they were now allowed to be equipped with lancers. They also had a change of uniform at this stage.

The Express and Telegraph (Adelaide), 14th July 1887 page 2.

Chronicle (Adelaide), 20th March 1930 page 51. Troopers Cooke and Franklin of the Lancers c.1888.

Australian War Memorial. 1895-1900. An officer of the Adelaide Lancers.

Formed in 1887 was the S.A. Volunteer Mounted Rifles, with independent troops scattered throughout the countryside. The Defence Act of 1895 resulted in the merging of the various cavalry. They were absorbed into the South Australian Mounted Rifles. The  “A” and “B” Squadrons of the Lancers were now known as ‘Adelaide Lancers, SA Mounted Rifles’. Approximately 2/3rds of the cavalry would volunteer to serve in South Africa. Post Federation, various Light Horse regiments were formed from the existing cavalry. By 1942 all cavalry units in the state had changed over to motor regiments.

Australian War Memorial SA Mounted Riflemen, c.1897.

13th January 2021

In the mid 1930s monogram buttons were in vogue.

The Mercury (Hobart), 13th April 1933 page 10.

Commenting on cool fashions for hot Queensland summer days …

Townsville Daily Bulletin (Qld), 2nd November 1935 page 8. Who wouldn’t wish to wear a smart little tilted hat?

Men also were in on this trend …

The Mail (Adelaide), 30th March 1935 page 7.

They were also fashionable in 1947-8. From a David Jones advert in 1948:

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney), 15th April 1948 page 11.




12th January 2021

British India Steam Navigation Company

From Australian National Maritime Museum collection.

Lasting from 1862-1971, this was one of the largest shipping companies of all time. The company owned more than 500 ships and managed 150 more for other owners. At its height in 1922, British India Steam Navigation Company had more than 160 ships in the fleet. The shipping routes included Britain to India, Australia, Kenya and Tanganyika, as well as services from India.  From 1914 it was a subsidiary of P&O, being absorbed in October 1971.

Australian made trouser buttons

Thanks Ed for this image:

I have not been able to ascertain who “BN” was. They may have been a metal products factory, rather than button manufactures per se.

The West Australian (Perth), 27th August 1940 page 11.



11th January 2021

Examiner ‘Women’s Supplement’ (Launceston), 20th march 1940 page 3.

The article went on to describe how the factory was making 150 khaki drill service jackets per day per bench, with “a few more minutes for button hole making and button attachment by machine in another section of the factory”. The machines were all British made.The factory was expanding as fast as it could procure more equipment. At the time of the article 450 women were employed, but this was increasing.

The women also performed hand stitching of textiles used in making munitions, and in the making of service caps for Army, Navy and Air Force. They also made flags and pennants. Before the war the Commonwealth Clothing Factory had contracts for making uniforms for  the Post Office, Police, railways and tramways as well as other civilians such as lift operators! This work was quickly finished or handed over to private firms to allow for the sudden demands of war.

See  http://www.austbuttonhistory.com/branded-buttons/branded-buttons-manufacturers/#Commonwealth_Clothing_Factory_Miles_Street_Southbank_Melbourne

10th January 2021

New backmark

Thanks to Cam Smith:

“Season Ticket Shop’ is a funny backmark, isn’t it?







This article indicates that it was a business of the New South Wales Railways to issue tickets and passes.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 16th November 1954 page 1.

Cam states this button by A. J. Parkes was found with the following button, and that this pairing has been seen before:








I suggest that the first (Tudor Crown) button pre dates 1954, and the second (St Edwards crown) post 1954. Perhaps they were uniform buttons for the staff?

Please contact us if you know anything more.




9th January 2021

New finds:

1940s card of buttons from the General Plastics firm. The pattern does not show up well, so I’ve photo-shopped an individual button below to show it.


A lovely example of a German 1950-60s glass button.

Early-Mid 1960s Beutron cards. Even though they are identical cards, one has the buttons sewn on and the other, stapled.