20th September 2020

“Coat of Arms” buttons

Collectors are curious creatures, wanting to know where, when and what their treasures are  made of? When it comes to uniform buttons, we also want to know who wore them? Therefore buttons with just  a coat of arms, or just a cypher or crown are a bit annoying, a bit vague. To say they are government buttons or official buttons to me is like saying you have bought a new car. Well, what kind of car? If there is another clue, like the Olympic rings, then you know it came from the Australian Olympic team of 1996 (I’d like one of those).

One such button I bought was described by the seller as associated with the Hobart Government House. Perhaps other government houses around the country used these.

Stokes & Sons Melb

Another example was for the black and white naval style Customs uniform from 1954-1975. This button went on the tunic and overcoat and are made of a hard black plastic. See  https://www.customscollector.com/images/stories/insignia/Australia/The_Never_Ending_Quest-Collecting_Australian_Customs_Insignia.pdf








Carol has shared a few others. Who knows whose uniforms they graced?

Stokes Vic and Stokes Melbourne Australia

History of Coat of Arms in Australia

 Initially, the British Coat of Arms was used for official purposes.

Sir Isaac Isaccs was our 9th Governor General, and the first Australian born. In the National Library of Australia is his ceremonial uniform made by William Chorley of Sydney, including a fine hat sporting a British Coat of Arms button:


However, an “Advance Australia Coat of Arms” was designed even before there was an Australian nation. Although unofficial, it was widely used, even as the basis of official designs.

Australian Horse (NSW) 1897-1903: Australian War Memorial collection. Backmark Hobson & Sons.

However, being unofficial, it was varied: the emu and kangaroo changed sides, supported the shield or not, and at times looked towards or away from the shield. The shield was surmounted by the Rising Sun. The rising sun was symbolic of the new country rising within the British Empire.

State Library NSW, Mitchell Library. possibly 1821. The artist is unknown.

Trade token.





Golden casket presented to HRH the Duke of York at Federation, 1901.

Post Federation, the first Coat of arms was granted in 1908. The emu had it’s foot up to support the shield, and the words ‘Advance Australia’ appeared on the scroll under the shield.

Daily Telegraph (Launceston), 20th August 1908 page 2. It shows the red cross of St George and the 5 stars of the Southern Cross.

Despite the design change in 1912, the old version appeared on coins until 1936, excepting the sixpence where it lasted until 1963!

The current coat of arms, called the Commonwealth Coat of Arms dates from 1912.

Sydney Morning Herald, 28th September 1910 page 6. The shield now contains the 6 state badges. The supporters now stand on branches of wattle rather than on grass. The scroll contain s ‘Australia’ rather than ‘Advance Australia’.

Despite all this, as explained in http://www.hubert-herald.nl/Australia.htm the change over of usage of arms was gradual, as until 1986, the Australian States remained colonies of the UK!

Despite being erected in 1927, the Royal Coat of Arms appears on the old Parliment House as the dominant one.

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