History of Maxart


Thanks to Ronald Wilson for this history of Maxart.

John (Jack) Frederick Wilson (1916-1992)  was an industrial chemist. After the war Jack went into business at Maxart Productions with his brother Maxwell Henry Wilson (1918-1980)  who had established the company to supply his mother’s Block Arcade business (Rosebud Frock Decorators)  with sequins & beads from about 1947.  

The Age, 19th March 1946 page 3.

Advocate (Burnie, Tas), 30th September 1948, page 5.

The Argus, 10th October 1953 page 28.






The company  diversified into the manufacture and importing of buttons. Jack was successful in developing the business further by dyeing buttons to the latest fashion colours.  Max then developed the packaging of buttons in tubes which better satisfied the display needs of button retailers for display purposes as well as allowing consumers to buy just the quantity of buttons that they required. The idea was quickly adopted and is still a popular button display method worldwide. 

Maxart became the major manufacturer of fashion buttons to Australian retailers including Myer as well as specialist wool and fabric stores. Later his three sons joined the business. They diversified the company’s product range. Maxart Plastics Pty. Ltd. introduced injection moulding with Frank Lenthall to manufacture Nylon and ABS Plated buttons. Brian and Alan Wilson diversified the company further into  women’s belts then introduced a highly successful range of jewellery quality buttons imported from overseas. Ronald later bought out the Maxart companies from the family.

Commonwealth of Australia Gazette, 1987. This shows how the company had diversified.

Maxart stopped trading in 1992. The removal of tariffs on garment imports had dramatically reduced demand for buttons in Australia from industry and individuals.

From the Victorian Public Archive: Maxart applied to extend the factory in 1957, and again in 1964 to extend and repair after fire damage.

Maxart button plant 1980. From the Wilson family tree on, with permission.

Maxart Buttons in Cheltenham, Melbourne, Victoria. 1980. Photo used with permission.


The art work on the cards varied over the years. The eras have been guessed from the prices.

Button examples

?1940s-early 1960s

Close up of below.














Mid 1960s




?Late 1960s-early 1970s

I think all their metal buttons were imported.


  The pink rectangle is reused.

Sample cards

Note that the cards are numbered, which helps with dating. The American Bicentennial card’s number, however, does not seem to be in sequence with the others. It dates to 1976. Note that Maxart has a cross promotion with Totem Wool.

Card #1246


Card #1526, Winter 1976

Card #1530, Winter 1976.

Card #1638 1977

Card #1641 1977

Card #1642 1977

Card #1665 Winter 1978

1978: card #1692

1978: card#1722 Gloss versions

1978: card #1723 Matt versions

1979: card #1788 Gloss versions

1979: card #1789 Matt versions

Card #1833

1980: card #1863

1981: card# 1920

Card #2009,  1982.