Early Stokes buttons
If you are interested in the history of Australian manufacturing, I would recommend the book published this year, “Stokes. A Proud Heritage, 140 Years in Australian Manufacturing Industry” by Leigh Blackburn and Gregory Eccleston.
Reading it, I started wondering just how many buttons had been produced by Stokes over that time, and started to do a little searching. The following list covers some of the earliest; I can never hope to complete the list as sadly not all archival data or dies have been preserved. In 1857 Thomas Stokes claimed “I have already sunk nine dies for uniform buttons in this colony (Victoria) and manufactured no less than thirteen hundred dozen buttons … “. This may not refer to 9 separate designs, as some uniforms may have had more than one sizing of buttons, requiring more than one die. The backmarks may have been ‘T. Stokes Melbourne’ or ‘Stokes Maker Melbourne’
Perhaps old backplates were used on occasions, as some of the dating of particular defence services were after the partnership of Stokes and Martin had been initiated (1867). From newspaper reports I can identify some of the buttons made, and guess others:
1854: Melbourne and Hobson’s Bay with a depiction of a locomotive. Made in Melbourne by an un-named diesinker.
1856-1867: Newcastle Volunteer Artillery Corps
1856-1867: Victoria Yacht Club
1857: Letter Carriers’ Uniform (Post Office).
1859: Mail-coach Guards. Made in Melbourne by an un-named diesinker.
1859-1867: Victorian Volunteer Rifles
1859-1870: Royal Volunteer Artillery Regt.
1859-1867: Hobart Town Volunteer Artillery Corps
1860-1867: Launceston Volunteer Artillery Corps
1860-70: NSW Volunteer Rifles
c.1863: Victorian Naval Artillery.
1863 -1867: Prince of Wales Victorian Volunteer Light Horse.
1860-1867: City Guards (Hobart)
pre 1865: Melbourne Fire Brigade
1866: Victorian Volunteer Engineers (possibly the torpedo corps button on Cossum page 17).
1866: South Australian Artillery
1866: Adelaide Corporation
1866: Adelaide Fire Brigasde
c.1870: Victorian Volunteer Service.
? Date: Native Mounted Police
? Date: Royal Engineers
In his pioneering book buttons of the Defence Forces in Australia”, published in 1988, J. K.Cossum wrote in the preface that “… by the mid 1860s (Stokes) was supplying military outfitters in the other (non Victoria) colonies, in some case stamping the reverse side of the button with the name of the outfitter.” This may well be the case, so that other buttons backmarked with names such as ‘C. K. Moore’ may have been supplied by Stokes, although they may have been supplied from England.
If you are aware of any pre ‘Stokes & Martin’ buttons, and better still, have any picture you are willing to share, please contact me using the Contact page.