Category Archives: Uncategorized

22nd January 2021


1st Victorian Metropolitan Rifles

The Victorian Rifles retained their scarlet tunics for full dress even after khaki was adopted for uniforms in 1892.

On the back: “The soldier’s uniform depicted here was based on those of the British Army. The shako (hat) was similar to those worn by the British rifle regiments, with the exception of the badge, a silvered one bearing the St. George’s Cross with the stars within a garter bearing the motto ‘Aut Pac Aut Bello’ Victoria.”



Victorian Mounted Rifles 1893

On the back: “First formed in 1885 it was raised from volunteers from rifle clubs in country districts, each member supplying his own horse. The Corps served with distinction in the Boer War and later many of its members served in World War 1. It was disbanded during World War II while under the title of 8th Australian Cavalry Regiment.”



21st January 2021


S.A. Volunteer Infantry

Late in 1864 an alteration to the volunteers uniform was being discussed. The previous coat was too tight for comfortable drilling, and some suggested scarlet instead of grey, to be the same as the Regulars. Many of the volunteers were not keen on scarlet, however, they were to get it whether they liked it or not.

South Australian Register (Adelaide), 26th November 1864 page 2.

On the back: “Like other Australian States (sic), the South Australian Government organised a military force to defend itself. Here is a volunteer of 1868 ramming a charge down his three-banded Enfield percussion muzzle-loading rifle. The uniform, although baggy, was on British lines. A musketry award is worn on the left sleeve.”

Perhaps they didn’t mind, once they realised how comfortable they were (which was part of the reason for the design), and when all and sundry started complementing their appearance! I’m not sure the trousers were blue; there is no mention of this but the previous uniform had grey trousers and coat.


N.S.W. Volunteer Rifles

On the back: ” At the outbreak of the Crimean War in 1854, it seemed that Australia might be invaded by Russia. Volunteer regiments were formed to bolster British regiments garrisoned here. This bearded soldier from the Sydney Battalion of Volunteer Rifles is typical of the period. Companies were distinguished by the pom-pom.”

The  1st Regiment, NSW Volunteer Rifles were also known as the Sydney Battalion of Volunteer Rifles. It was formed in 1854, disbanded, then reformed in 1860. They were called upon to support the regular troops during the lambing Flat riots, and the attempted assassination of Prince Alfred (Queen Victoria’s eldest son) in 1861. Their uniforms comprised ‘Melton Stone Grey Cloth’ and Infantry Shakos (hats). The colour facings on the sleeves (green in the above illustration), identified the individual companies.

From the Journal of the Society for Army Research, Spring 1949,article titled ‘New South Wales Volunteers, 1862’ .

Detail from AWM photo P02849.001. Soldiers of the Sydney Battalion, 1861.



20th January 2021

New Finds

Melbourne Harbour Trust










The Trust was established in 1877 following pressure from Melbourne’s merchants, and opposition from rivals Williamstown and Geelong, to improve shipping access to the city.

Australasian Sketcher (Adelaide), 25th November 1876 page 2.

The work of the Trust would involve bypassing a section of the Yarra ( the Coode Canal), dredging and clearing of the river, and the excavation of Victoria Docks. The Sandridge Lagoon was filled and a deep-water canal dredged to Port Melbourne piers. In1978 the Trust became the Port Melbourne Authority.

“Melbourne Harbour Trust works : a trip with the commissioners” by F.A. Sleap 1882. State Library Victoria BIB ID 1776663

The Australasian Sketcher with Pen and Pencil (Melbourne), 30th June 1884 page 100.


From Victoria Collections


The Argus (Melbourne), 2nd April 1938. Dredges of The Melbourne Harbour Trust.

19th January 2021

New Finds

Royal Naval Reserve

Backmark: Kenning London

This design was used in the UK from 1903-1921.  ‘George Kenning’ was an outfitter  (so they would have made the naval uniforms rather than the buttons) in London from c.1857, although by the turn of the century they had offices around the Kingdom.

In Melbourne, Stokes & Sons made this design for the visiting Naval Reserve.

Newcastle Regiment 2nd Infantry Battalion

Stokes & Sons Melb. 1950-1960

According to the Australian War Memorial “On returning to Australia after the First World War the Australian Imperial Force, including the 2nd Infantry Battalion, ceased to exist. In its place was formed The Citizens Military Force (CMF), also known as the militia. These new units maintained the structure of the AIF and kept the same numerical designations. The militia units were also distributed in the same areas the original AIF units were raised. Consequently, militia units were known by the name of their shire. Thus the 2nd Infantry Battalion became the ‘City of Newcastle Regiment’.” The regiment was made into a company of the Royal NSW Regiment in the 1960 restructuring. The British Newcastle regiment was nick-named ‘The Lambs’ due to the white coats of their uniforms, which may explain the rather muscular lamb on the button.



18th January 2021


Sydney Mail, 20th August 1930 page 48.

Less valuable than (and inferior to) mother-of-pearl, prior to 1912 only negligible amounts had been gathered there, but during WW1 it became a source of income for pealers. Trocus was taken along the Barrier Reef as far south as Lady Elliott Island. ‘Shellers’ operated out of Cairns, Townsville and Mackay, sailing to Thursday Island to trade their catch.

The industry grew, with all the shell being exported to Japan. During the 1920s over-harvesting occurred; limits had to be placed on taking of shell below a minimum size. The “greedy” Japanese came to dominate this fishing industry. Streaks of red or reddish-brown on the back of a pearl button indicates it originated from trochus.

The Week (Brisbane), 6th July 1917 page 18.


The Brisbane Courier, 17th November 1923 page 10. During 1923 the value of trochus exported from Queensland was estimated at £13,000.

The Australasian (Melbourne), 23rd October 1926 page 78.


Papuan Courier (Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea), 19th October 1928 page 7.


Although the rise of plastic buttons greatly reduced the market for pearl buttons, the industry continues. Trochus is still sold to button makers.


17th January 2021

Tid-bits from Trove

Australian Town and Country Journal (Sydney), 16th February 1901 page 31.

The Albury Banner and Wodonga Express (NSW), 11th November 1921 page 32. In 1921 the button industry was (almost) non-existent in Australia.

Zeehan and Dundas Herald (Tas), 12th November 1921 page 3.

The Australian Women’s Weekly, 17th June 1953 page 30. British and American colours must be better!

16th January 2021

New Finds


Terries is a distributor/wholesale firm dating from from 1954.


St John’s Volunteer Aid Detachment

Backmark: K. G. Luke Pty Ltd Melb The buttons date 1930-1953.

There is an interesting history of the V.A.D. on Wikipedia:

From Trove:

In 1909 the British Red Cross and St John’s Ambulance Association together formulated a volunteer citizens nursing service which became known as Volunteer Aid Detachments,  with nursing sections for women and a pharmacy/tradesmen/orderly section for men. The women were to supplement the Regular Army nursing service. A similar scheme was suggested in Australia in 1914.

National Archives : V.A.D.  field day in Sydney, 1942.

Examiner (Launceston), 23rd December 1953 page 7.

The Mercury (Hobart), 22nd March 1954 page 6.




Air Niugini cuff-links







Air Niugini Limited is New Guini’s national airline, based at Jacksons International Airport in Port Moresby. It was established in 1973 to service domestic needs, but had since expanded internationally.

15th January 2021

Government Uniforms

As I have mentioned, not all uniform buttons were specific. The use of “VR” buttons generically for government uniforms was discussed on 9th December 2020:

  ‘Crown’ buttons were also used generically. A couple examples were shown recently:

The use of ‘crown buttons’ for government employees is described here:

The West Australian (Perth), 6th February 1932 page 4. From a story of the 1st Parliament in Perth in 1832, describing the dress of the Colonial Secretary.

The Goulburn Herald and County of Argyle Advertiser (NSW), 20th September 1856 page 6.

The Western Australian Times (Perth), 20th July 1875 page 2.

Commonwealth of Australia Gazette, 4th May 1907 page 760. Part of the Tasmanian Post Office uniforms.


14th January 2021

Another Golden Fleece uniform swap card

Adelaide Lancers

From the back of the card: ” This trooper belongs to one of this country’s most historic units. Formerly the Adelaide Mounted Rifles, in 1886 it was redesignated The Adelaide Lancers. In 1895 the unit was absorbed into the South Australian Mounted Rifles, becoming ‘A’ Squadron. Eventually this unit became the 16th Australian Light Horse.” Cossum has no SA cavalry uniform buttons: presumably they wore the SAV or SAM buttons shown on pages 18 &19.

The history of defence forces in general, and the mounted troops in particular, in the Colony of South Australia were confusing. Hopefully the following is correct!

Along with volunteer infantry and artillery, the first cavalry, the Adelaide Mounted Rifles was formed in 1854. Confusingly, the same unit was also referred to both as the  Adelaide Volunteer Mounted Rifles and the South Australian Mounted Rifles in the newspapers. This original unit did not lasted long, disbanding in 1856 due to lack of government support I suspect.

Adelaide Times, 10th October 1854 page 2.

Other volunteer cavalry came and went. From 1866-1870 there was the South Australian Regiment of Volunteer Cavalry comprised of three troops. It was re-named in 1867:

Adelaide Observer, 1st February 1868 page 4. Various troops were named in honour of the Duke who visited South Australia in 1867.

Chronicle (Adelaide), 20th March 1930 page 42.

The Mail (Adelaide), 7th April 1934 page 1.
“An Adelaide Volunteer cavalry-man of about 1867. The jacket is scarlet with a white sash and gold braid. The trousers are black with gold stripes.”

In 1860 “a new phase of the volunteer movement” occurred:

The Sydney Morning Herald, 13th March 1860 page 2.

The Goolwa and Strathabyn cavalry formed around 1863.

Observer (Adelaide), 29th January 1910 page 29.Goolwa Cavalry trooper, 1868.

In 1877 a new Adelaide Mounted Rifles was formed. It was merged two years later with the afore mentioned Reedbeds Mounted Rifles Company. Then in 1887 (not 1886 as stated on the card) it was renamed the Adelaide Lancers, as they were now allowed to be equipped with lancers. They also had a change of uniform at this stage.

The Express and Telegraph (Adelaide), 14th July 1887 page 2.

Chronicle (Adelaide), 20th March 1930 page 51. Troopers Cooke and Franklin of the Lancers c.1888.

Australian War Memorial. 1895-1900. An officer of the Adelaide Lancers.

Formed in 1887 was the S.A. Volunteer Mounted Rifles, with independent troops scattered throughout the countryside. The Defence Act of 1895 resulted in the merging of the various cavalry. They were absorbed into the South Australian Mounted Rifles. The  “A” and “B” Squadrons of the Lancers were now known as ‘Adelaide Lancers, SA Mounted Rifles’. Approximately 2/3rds of the cavalry would volunteer to serve in South Africa. Post Federation, various Light Horse regiments were formed from the existing cavalry. By 1942 all cavalry units in the state had changed over to motor regiments.

Australian War Memorial SA Mounted Riflemen, c.1897.

13th January 2021

In the mid 1930s monogram buttons were in vogue.

The Mercury (Hobart), 13th April 1933 page 10.

Commenting on cool fashions for hot Queensland summer days …

Townsville Daily Bulletin (Qld), 2nd November 1935 page 8. Who wouldn’t wish to wear a smart little tilted hat?

Men also were in on this trend …

The Mail (Adelaide), 30th March 1935 page 7.

They were also fashionable in 1947-8. From a David Jones advert in 1948:

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney), 15th April 1948 page 11.