29th September 2022

Buttons in the News.

The Brisbane Courier, 7th June 1928 page 19.

Above: In 1928 the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr Winston Churchill) delivered a budget statement. Amongst other changes to custom duties was one for a 33¹⁄3 percent duty on “buttons used for fastening or decoration” (so not those used on furniture).

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney), 19th September 1931 page 10.

Above: In 1929 Burns Philp (a once major shipping and merchant company), with encouragement from the Federal Government, started the ‘Australian Pearlbutton Manufacturing Co. Ltd.’ to make MOP buttons. There had long been over-enthusiastic hopes for such an industry in Australia (see http://www.austbuttonhistory.com/australian-button-history/pearl-shell-button-industry/). Employing only 24 people at its start in May 1931, it was hoped to employ up to 250. Despite high tariffs to protect this infant industry, by 1938 the company was making significant losses and in liquidation. The tariff, as seen above, had not been popular with local garment manufacturers.

The Labor Daily (Sydney), 14th March 1936 page 10.

In September 1931 the Japanese invaded the Chinese Province of Manchuria, with ongoing hostilities until the end of WW2. I can’t vouch for the story. Did the Chinese really use that quantity of European style buttons (as opposed to ‘frogs’) in 1936?

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