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9th December 2021

The New Zealand Clothing Factory: part 2

The factory must have regularly tendered to supply uniforms, as I have received several backmarked “The New Zealand Clothing Factory”, although the buttons were most likely sourced from England. Some are generic patterns used by multiple forces throughout the Empire.

1885 pattern New Zealand Rifle Volunteers button.

Other Ranks Volunteer button 1870s

New Zealand Territorials Artillery, 1911. *

Artillery Volunteers 1870s. (whitemetal)

Artillery Volunteers 1870s. (copper)








See also


*The NZ Territorials

A new Defence Act in 1909 allowing for compulsory service, as well as a report by Lord Kitchener, lead to a revision of the  NZ Volunteers Forces in 1911 under this new name. Not all youths were pleased with this compulsory service, and there was some misbehaviour, and even strikes! The volunteer forces are still known by this title today.

Geelong Advertiser, 26th June 1913 page 5.

The NZ territorials Artillery (see button above) was formed from the previous New Zealand Garrison Artillery Volunteers. According to the website this button was not widely worn; rather The “New Zealand Forces” artillery button was used by permanent and volunteer forces alike.



8th December 2021

The New Zealand Clothing Factory: part 1

In 1873 The New Zealand Clothing Factory was established in Dunedin to supply Bendix Hallenstein’s general stores with clothing; this led to the establishment of Hallenstein Brothers  (popularly called HB) stores around the country. 

Otago Daily Times, 22nd November 1873, page 3.

From the “Daily Times”, reprinted in the Tuapeka Times, 11th February 1874, page 3.

The Argus (Melbourne),31st August 1877. Several years after starting, Hallenstein was advertising for staff in Melbourne. He had come to Victoria in 1857 for six years, so perhaps he was aware of Melbourne’s growing “rag trade”.

Leader (Melbourne), 26th January 1895 page 8. From a larger article but ‘Commercial Dunedin’. By 1900 there were 30 “HB” clothing stores. A grand new headquarters was built in 1882-3 which housed up to 300 employees; the opening was celebrated with a ball for 500-600 people.

Otago Witness, 22nd November 1911 page 58 (supplement).

The company continues today, but now most of the clothing is made in China.





6th December 2021

Y.M.C.A. (A.I.F.) World War 1

Australian War Memorial item #RELAWM05467.001

Also on Cossum’s book page 71 (see yesterday’s post) is a button depicting an inverted triangle superimposed by a rectangle containing the letters ‘YMCA”. According to the AWM,  the Australian YMCA rented the Aldwych theatre in London from 1917-1919 as an accomodation, dining and entertainment centre for members of the Australian Imperial Forces; this banner comes from that theatre.

The Aldwych Theatre, AWM image #5637

The YMCA were also responsible for other resources for the benefit of AIF troops, including Greenhill House. Activities included providing writing paper for letters home, film showings, libraries, religious services, concert parties, folk dancing and educational lectures. 

They  provided services to troops on the war front.

State Library Victoria: image #1785924.

Cowra Free Press (NSW), 21st March 1917 page 4.

They also provided rest homes and clubs in Australia for returned soldiers.

Punch (Melbourne), 20th November 1918 page 18.

5th December 2022


On page 71 of “Buttons of the Defence Forces in Australia” by J. K. Cossum, printed in 1988, is an image of a button bearing the letters VWAAC. Cossum notes that it was “thought to be Victorian Women’s Army Ambulance Corps.” Cossum did not have the luxury of the internet with resources like Trove ( to research. Rather, it was the Volunteer Women’s Army Auxillary Corps” from WW1.

The Farmer and Settler (Sydney), 28th March 1918 page 8.

Table Talk (Melbourne), 16th May 1918 page 22. The first parade held at Victoria Barracks on 17th May 1918.

Australian War memorial, image HO2386. The VWAAC march down Bourke Street on Comfort Fund Day in July 1918.

Bendigonian, 14th November 1918 page 11.

The corps was formed under the control of the Commonwealth Defence Department. They aimed to welcome home returned soldiers and help with repatriation. They helped sell YMCA fundraising buttons, prepared “welcome home” suppers and met returning soldiers at railway stations. Apparently there was some disparaging comments about the corps, which they found insulting. The British version, of which Queen Mary had been the commander-in-chief, had approximately 10 thousand serving in France in 1918, working as cooks, clerks, waitresses, bakers, driver mechanics, assisting the Royal Flying Corps, sail making, as fitters and turner, etc.

The Lone Hand (Magazine), 2nd September 1918 page 415.

2nd December 2021

Crocheted Buttons

These English made buttons made me wonder.  When were crocheted buttons fashionable enough to justify the cost of carding these labour intensive hand-made items? I would image they were made and/or carded at home rather than in factories, in the way that leather buttons were made in Australia post WW2; constructed by the gross by women in their homes to supplement the family income, then collected for finishing in factories.

According to Sally Luscomb in her 1967 “The Collector’s Encyclopedia Of Buttons”, crocheted buttons were “first” in fashion in the 1880s and then again in the early 1900s. They were initially “made by hand, later by machine.” However, they were advertised in Australian newspapers as early as 1861.

From a larger article in The Australian Woman’s Mirror, 24th November 1948 page 4.

The Bulletin, 16th October 1913 page 1. The ‘Therese’, for sale at Horden’s, trimmed with small crocheted buttons.

The frequency of their mention in newspapers was greatest from 1910-1930, however, instructions for making crocheted buttons appeared in all eras, particularily as part of knitting/crocheting patterns.

The Brisbane Courier, 25th May 1910, page 15.


Daily Herald (Adelaide), 20th June 1914 page 5.Perhaps, my buttons date from either the WW1 or WW2 era, when “fancy buttons” were hard to come by:

The Daily News (Perth), 25th January 1919 page 6.

Queensland Times (Ipswich), 20th January 1942.

1st December 2021

New Finds

1940s Beutron

“Made from BEUTRON. The plastic of the future.”

I presume that cards like these date from around 1947, as the casein plastic was itself referred to as Beutron, not just the buttons, as seen in the advert below.

The Canberra Times, 29th July 1947, page 4.

Strangely enough, the first Beutron was a race horse in 1941. Did the horse belong to someone associated with the company?


1940-50s Maxart

The company used the term “Maxart Production” in advertising from 1947-1955.

30th November 2021

‘The Great White Fleet’ visit to Australia, 1908.

 In 1907 the American Fleet started a 15 month, 45,000 mile circumnavigation of the globe, calling in to Sydney, Melbourne and Albany. On August the 20th, 1908, over 500 people welcomed 16 white painted battleships and 5 auxiliaries bearing 14,000 sailors arrive at Sydney. Alfred Deakin had approached President Roosevelt to arrange this visit, as despite Australia’s loyalty to ‘The Empire’, there was little real commitment to protect Australia by the Royal Navy, and the Nation felt vulnerable. There was a desire for a closer relationship with this powerful naval presence in the Pacific region.

The Argus (Melbourne), 21st March 1908, page 5.

Souvenirs, such as the button (from Joyce’s collection) and postcard (from Carol’s) were sold.


The image of the button is not clear; but bears two hands clasped in friendship above the year 1908 between the crossed flags of out nations. In that era, australia used the ‘Red Ensign’.

From the Sydney Mail, August 1908.



29th November 2021

Artillery Button

This button was shared by a reader:


Woolwich is a market town and parish on the River Thames, 8 miles SE of London. In 1833 the dissolution of the partnership of Joesph & Edward Grisbrook was noted in the London Gazette. Edward died in 1851, with the firm becoming Joseph Grisbrook & Co.

J. Grisbrook & Co operated from 46-48 Powis Street, Woolwich, as linen and woollen drapers, upholsterers and furnishing warehousemen from around 1840 until 1862, when the business was bought out by partner F. A. Wallis , Joseph having come to a sad and grisly end in 1861. The business was then known as Wallis & Howes.

Supplement to Monmouthshire Merin, 19th October 1861.

The design for  Royal Artillery uniform buttons (both for regular and volunteer troops) showing 3 cannons pointing left under the Royal crown date from 1831-1840, then from 1855-1873.

Therefore button shared above dates from 1855-1861, and would have been produced for use in Britain. If it was worn by NSW or Victorian artillery (and it is possible that old buttons were reused), it would date from 1870-1873, as volunteer troops were not formed until after the withdrawal of British forces in 1870; then in 1873, the button design changed to that of an artillery field gun pointing left, under the Royal Crown.


28th November 2021

My mother was a milliner, so it is a pleasure to combine hats with buttons:

The Argus (Melbourne), 1st April 1924 page 6.

The Telegraph (Brisbane), 31st October 1927 page 10.

The World’s News (Sydney), 5th November 1927 page 22.

Maryborough Chronicle (Qld), 2nd April 1946 page 4.

The Argus (Melbourne), 23rd October 1950, page 8.