Buttons inscribed with the name of tailoring firms, department stores and companies are sometimes overlooked but really interesting. They are found commonly by metal detectors in old gold-rush areas and whilst of historical interest, they are rarely valuable. Many are made of vegetable ivory (Tagua Nut), horn or metal. In the book ‘The Importance of British Material Culture to Historical Archeologies of the Nineteenth Century’ edited by Alasdair Brooks it states that “Birmingham button makers stamped buttons for local tailors, outfitters, and department stores.”
This button was unearthed from a mass grave at Pheasant Woods (Fromelles):
For a good and affordable resource on these buttons see:
A Sydney Post Office directory from 1886-7 listed British firms importing into Australia. Such firms would have been the source of uniform and military buttons used here, but marked with the Australian uniform makers name.
Post federation, only Firmin continued to advertise.
The article below explains that these buttons also came from Italy.
Metal trouser/braces buttons may date from the late 18th century. “They … often bear generic slogans such as ‘Our Own Make’, ‘Best Ring Edge’, ‘Excelsior’, etc.”
Please note that these trouser buttons are also found overseas. They probably came from button manufacturing centres such as Birmingham. The same generic terms may have been used in more than one era and by more than one maker. These buttons are not valuable, but they are certainly interesting.
There are a few cards of Australian made trouser buttons:
From Trove ( archived Australian newspapers etc):
It is often claimed online that ‘Best Ring Edge‘ buttons date from late 19th to early 20th century, and this was backed up by a newspaper story in Trove dated 1897 of a child wearing these buttons. “Monster Cards” of 12 0r 24 double ring edge brace/trouser buttons were advertised in Australia from 1905-1924.
‘Excelsior’ trouser buttons were advertised in Australia circa 1893- 1896.
‘Double Ring Edge’ are mentioned in 1866. They are found on trousers in a museum from the late 19th century.
‘Our Own Make’ buttons are mentioned from 1892 through to 1930s.
“Best Solid Eyelet” buttons are found on a 1890s uniform, as are “Four Holes Improved”.
The back of these two tailor’s buttons are marked with the country of origin, England and Germany:
Enjoy looking through the pages for tailors’, manufacturers’ and department stores’ buttons!