17th May 2022

More Lovely Buttons from Pat’s Collection.

1950s Delphi Buttons

 

Celluloid buttons c.1930-50s.

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16th May 2022

C. & J. Weldon

Brothers Charles (1817-1882) and Jeremiah (1823-1880) Weldon were in business together from 1851 until at least 1933. (A 1933 dated invoice from the firm is for sale online; so the oft quoted 1910s must be in error.) Their father, Jeremiah senior (1784-1847), had been the cashier for the button manufacturers Hammond, Turner and Sons for the last 15 years of his life.

They were known for their livery and uniform buttons, but as this catalogue shows, also sold waistcoat buttons.

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15th May 2022

South Australian Volunteers and Militia: part 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first SA volunteer force described yesterday started enrollment in 1840. Despite the South Australian Volunteer Militia being granted the title of ‘Royal’ in 1841 the corps was never truly operational; at drill in 1842 there were 17 officers with only two privates! By 1845 there was talk of re-establishing it, so it must have been non-functional before then.

The next mention of a South Australian Militia was when a bill was presented to government in 1854.  The impetus for this was the Crimean war. There was on one hand, much talk about volunteers being superior to militia (in that they were more motivated than “pressed men” would be) but a desire for adequate renumeration for volunteers on the other hand. This indicates they considered “militia” to be pressed/forced/conscripted/compulsory rather than volunteering for duty. To them, even volunteers should be renumerated (however this payment did apparently not eventuate).

Adelaide Times, 22nd August 1854 page 2.

A bill was passed late in 1854 allowing the raising of a volunteer force, (which despite all their interpretation of the term militia as meaning conscripted) was called the South Australian Volunteer Militia Brigade. Very confusing and inconsistent!  There were raised artillery, cavalry and infantry. Apparently these forces faltered following the end of the Crimean War in 1856, until the next scare provided by Napolean in 1859 when Volunteer Forces were re-raised.

My problem arises in trying to date South Australian uniform buttons. Cossum lists a SA Volunteer Rifles as circa 1855, a couple of SA Volunteers dating from 1860-80 and a couple of SA Militia that he dates from around 1880 until 1886. With respect to his pioneering work in the area of Australian uniform buttons (and the lack of Google in 1988), his datings are sometimes in error.

The first mention of South Australian Rifle Corps Volunteers appears in 1854, so the button depicting S.A.R. within a ‘slung bugle’ under a Crown might be from c.1855. Alternatively, it could date from 1860 as described in the article below:

The South Australian Advertiser, 10th July 1860 page 3.

However,  17 months later when the uniforms reached the warehouses, we have this description:

South Australian Register (Adelaide), 26th December 1861 page 2.

This dates the S.A.V. buttons being used from 1861 onwards. The button on Cossum page 18, bearing the title ‘South Australian Militia’ 1880-1885 I find problematic. It varies in design, having no “laurel wreath” around the Crown and lettering. Also, such a button was described for South Australian police troopers in 1847, so I do not think it is a military button.

South Australian Gazette and Colonial Register (Adelaide), 5th June 1847 page 3, quoting from the Port Phillip Gazette.

The S.A.M. buttons probably date from after 1877 when following the winding back of previous volunteer forces, a new force was established.

The Illustrated Adelaide News, 1st May 1877 page 2.

This article from 1878 describes how earlier volunteers (those with the SAV buttons) had not been issued with a new uniform since 1865!

Evening Journal (Adelaide), 4th July 1878 page 3.

Note: ‘E. Stillwell & Son, London’ were, according to their own description, “manufacturers of gold and silver lace and embroidery, military & naval appointments, cork helmet and cap makers, sword cutlers and die sinkers.” Starting around 1825, the firm became “& Son” around 1852 and traded until around 1957.

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14th May 2022

South Australian Volunteers and Militia: part 1

Looking for information on colonial militia  I came across this advertisment for Lincoln, Stuart & Co.

North Melbourne Advertiser (Vic), 19th June 1885 page 1.

It states that “We are the only Government Contractors for the supply of Cadet Uniforms to the schools of Victoria, price 30s. No other firm is authorised to make them. Contractors for the supply of Military Clothing to the Governments of N. S. Wales, Victoria, and South Australia. Militia Uniforms. Volunteer Uniforms. Firemen’s Uniforms. Band Uniforms. Makers of the Uniforms for the Sydney Contingent in the Soudan.” Therefore, it is a backmark to look out for on uniforms supplied after 1882 (when the name changed from McIvor & Lincoln).

The terms ‘militia’ and ‘volunteer’ can be confusing, especially when they were used interchangeably or in tandem.  However, usually in Australia the term militia refers to part time soldiers, either volunteer or conscripted who received payment (however meager) for their services, whereas volunteers did not. Historically, both often had to pay for their uniforms, arms, horses, etc, which was quite a burden. This was one of the reasons that ‘gentlemen’ (i.e. men of means) made up most of the volunteers. It is also a reason that forces would fade away; lack of government support undermined the soldiers’ enthusiasm. The following  South Australian article illustrates the financial burdens, as well as by the very term “Volunteer Militia”, the confusion regarding terminology.

Adelaide Chronicle and South Australian Advertiser, 3rd March 1840 page 3.

Even when governments were willing in theory to support volunteers, in practice they could not afford to do so, or not at least adequately. Often, even if weapons were supplied, they may arrived late, been obsolete or without ammunition.

To be continued.

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13th May 2022

Many button collectors have a smattering of tarnished brass uniform buttons in our collections. Polishing these was ever a chore. Gadgets were invented to make the job somewhat easier.

The Mirror (Sydney), 9th August 1918 page 9.

Pix magazine, 12th July 1941 page 29. The girl is using a polishing guard.

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney), 29th March 1945 page 20.

Command believed that the discipline of maintaining the uniform was a necessary pyschology:

The Shoalhaven Telegraph (NSW), 15th November 1922 page 3.

However, in the Air Force News, 1st February 1999, a reader commented on the issue of uniforms disagreed:

In some circumstances, it  was a totally wasted effort:

The Daily News (Perth), 20th August 1938 page 6.

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12th May 2022

Pat’s New Finds

A selection of leaves originally sold in Australia by Coronet. Very autumnal!

General Plastics

Both Beauclaire and Leda were made by General Plastics. The top row date from early to late 1950s, the bottom row from c.1957 and early 1960s.

Beutron

1960s-80s

The dating of the thin strips is unknown. The Opal Glo dates from the late 1950s, the Woolworths from after 1957. Note that although earlier supplied by General Plastics, around 1957 Beutron took over this, hence the indent on the card for free cotton (a G.Herring/Beutron feature).

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11th May 2022

New Finds

These are just a simple ‘fish-eye’ button, but they appeared in multiple forms. It appears they only came in two sizes, 11.4 and 16.4mm diametre, but they came in both ‘pearlised’ and plain, on Beauclire, Woolworths ‘Spares’ and Embassy cards. Strangley, there were either 6,7,8 or 9 buttons per small card.

Although a plain metal buckle, this raised a smile due to the price of nine cents.  Australian one and two cent coins were withdrawn from circulation in 1992. Prior to then, if you gave the sale assistant a ten cent piece, you would have received this change; afterwards, no change!

These cards date from around 1976 into the 1980s. Here is an advert from 1977.

The Australian Jewish News (Melbourne), 15th April 1977 page 44.

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10th May 2022

FLAIR BUTTONS

A few weeks ago I shared an Embassy card of buttons, then Pat sent pictures of matching buttons, so the design was fresh in my mind.

http://www.austbuttonhistory.com/4th-april-2022/

I was then sorting out a portion of my collection that had been neglected for some time when, SNAP, there was the button again on a Flair card! I had wondered if these were sold by an Australian distributor as I had only seen them for sale here. I guess they are!

I also have a couple of other Flair cards, both mounted with glass buttons.

The moral of the story is to check through your collection occasionally; who knows what you might find!

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9th May 2022

Cardigan Buttons

In 1937 novel buttons suitable for cardigans and dresses were on sale.

The Border Star (Coolangatta, Qld), 16th April 1937 page 1.

In 1950 G. Herring advertised so-called “cardigan buttons”.

It is a bit of a gimmick, as the “backing disk” is simply a smaller matching button.

They had also been sold on large cards; I only have portions of these. A picture of a ball of wool, only glimpsed on the below sample, decorated these. Hopefully I will find a complete card one day!

The ‘safety disks’ are hidden behind the larger buttons mounted on top of them. Below I have separated out several examples .

Strangely, the same idea was found on ‘Astoria’ buttons in New Zealand, mounted on the same style card as used for Beauclaire. Did G.Herring neglect to patent the idea in New Zealand?

In 1953-4 General Plastic had ads specifically promoting the suitability of their buttons for hand-knits, even having a cross promotion with “Twinprufe” wool.

Detail from Australian Women’s Weekly, 27th May 1953 page 51.

The Sun-Herald (Sydney), 14th March 1954 page 5.

Of course you could be crafty and make your own buttons.

Worker (Brisbane), 21st March 1949 page 10.

The Gosford Times and Wyong District Advocate (NSW ), 7th December 1954 page 2.

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8th May 2022

Revisiting Birmingham once more.

William Elliott & Sons

William Elliott founded his firm around 1818 in Regent Street, specialising making naval and  army uniform buttons. He took out five patents for improvements in button manufacturing between 1837-1851, including one for a fancy silk button with a centred pattern that was so successful it made the firm one of the largest in Birmingham. He also improved upon the 3-fold linen button patented by John Ashton.

 

An Elliott patent silk button. See https://hammond-turner.com/elliotts-patent-button/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Around 1850 the firm was taken over by partners Dain, Watts, and Manton, which became Watts & Manton in 1869.

Advert. c.1858.

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