30th August 2022

Stokes & Sons: 1899-1910

This was a period of transition; for the country, the company, and the Monarchy. It was also a period of war. This was reflected in the uniform buttons that were produced.

The Second Boer War broke out on 11th October 1899 and would continue until 31st May 1902, spanning the pre and post federation periods. The initial contingents were raised from the colonies, and after 1901, by the States on behalf of the new Commonwealth.

Stokes & Sons Melbourne. The image has been polished away! This ‘General Service” design was used by contingents to the 2nd Boer War.

Although the company did not officially change its name to ‘Stokes & Sons’ until 1903, this button made from 1899-1901 (note the QV crown) is marked Stokes & Sons.










On the 22nd January 1901, Queen Victoria died in her 82nd year. Her son, Bertie, then became King Edward VII.  On 10th July 1901 he declared that the ‘Tudor Crown’ was to be henceforth used on buttons, etc, but not until those currently used were worn out. Presumably it was after this date that any new buttons were made in with the new design, although some sources claim this started in 1902 as his coronation occurred on 9th August 1902. (The above button, but with the Tudor crown, is shown on Cossum page 20. Its backmark is Shierlaw & Co. Adelaide. It may have been supplied by Stokes, or else from Britain.)

The Sydney Morning Herald, 17th August 1901, page 8.

Australian Town and Country Journal (Sydney), 7th September 1901 page 38.

Sometime after August 1901 Stokes and Sons (officially still Stoke & Son until 1903) would have made new dies for all the governmental and military uniform buttons.

Transition from colonial to Federal Defence Forces

There was a period of reorganisation that took several years. The new Australian Commonwealth Military Forces (ACMF) was not formally recognised until 2 years after Federation. Even then it took a period of years before full amalgamation occurred.  Some Queensland units continued to wear State insignia until 1910. This period also saw the establishment of Commonwealth Naval Forces, with new uniforms from 1904. The uniforms, and  the buttons, were basically the same design as that of the Royal Navy.

In combination with the changeover from the Queen Victoria to Tudor crown, this created a situation where some uniform buttons were produced that were to be used for only a short time period. An example would be the NSW Military Forces button with the Tudor crown, relevant for 1901 until 1903, when this force became part of the Commonwealth Forces. It is shown on Cossum page 7. A similar situation occurred for the Victorian Rifles button, again only used for 1901-3 (see Cossum page 13).


Australian Commonwealth Military Force 1903-1910

The Australian Commonwealth Military Forces came into being with the passing of the Defence Act of 1903.

Commonwealth Cadet Corps

Royal Australian Artillery

I do not have a button for the Australian Corps of Engineers, 1903-10, but one is shown on Cossum page 30 made by Stokes & Sons.


Examples of Governmental buttons by Stokes & Sons, post 1901.

Post master-General Department

NSW Tramways

Victoria Railways

Victorian Police

WA Government Railways

WA Government Tramways

SA Police/SA Governmental departments













Tasmanian Police
















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