Victorian Military Forces c.1880-1903
Buttons of a universal pattern, as opposed to that of a particular unit, were used in larger numbers and this resulted in the use of multiple manufacturers and therefore multiple backmarks.
Although the basic design was the Southern Cross surmounted by the “Queen Victoria Crown” and surrounded by a garter bearing the Forces motto, there were several versions. In 1891 it was announced that the change of the motto had been approved from ‘Aut Pace Aut Bello’ (which translates as ‘In Peace and War’) to ‘Pro Deo et Patria’ (For God and Fatherland/country). This is most easily seen on the two of the larger buttons.
Another variation occurred after the death of Queen Victoria in 1901. From 1902 the crown changed to the Tudor (or King’s) Crown, as on the white-metal button above.
However, there is another, more subtle variation. Can you spot it below? (No: not the size or finish, the design.)
The buckle of the garter is usually depicted on the left side at the bottom (as seen by the viewer) as in the above left sided button, but Stokes and Sons produced buttons with the buckle to the right. I think this was in error by Stokes. Interestingly, Cossum lists this variation with the backmark of Wiseman Bros. Melbourne. This would indicate that Wiseman Bros (warehousemen/importers) sourced at least some of their buttons from Stokes & Sons.
By the way, the definition of a garter is ‘ a small belt to hold up a stocking’.
P.S. Does anyone know anything about Beckworth’s Ltd. of London?