7th May 2022

Revisiting Birmingham

Breadalbane Buttons

Such a delightful name; it deserves a post. Brothers William (1795-1847) and Andrew (1797-1869) Smith of Mauchline, Scotland, ran a successful manufacturery of wooden ware in Birmingham from around 1810.  An article in “Hogg’s Weekly Instructor”  in 1847 described the method of making Beadalbane buttons, started a year or two before the article was printed. The buttons were so named after the Marquis of Breadalbane, who had purchased the first set of these buttons. Exerts from the long-winded article follow:

The firm obviously had set up another factory in their home village. The ‘Tartan buttons’ became very popular, no doubt helped by the fact that H.R.H. Prince Albert was presented with  a set. The process became more mechanised as business boomed.

A set of these buttons produced for Prince Albert sold at auction in 2000 for £12,800.

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6th May 2022

Although many of these cards are incomplete, they add to illustrate the extent of the ranges produced in Australia.

Embassy buttons: 1959-1967.

Beutron buttons: Late 1950s, early 1960s, early 1970s.

“New Beutron”: Perhaps this refers to the change of ownership in 1963?

“Colour Matched”; advertised in 1964-5.

Astor; early 1960s.

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5th May 2022

New Finds

These style of cards probably pre-date (1948-9) the “All Purpose” style of cards (1949-1959) although there may have been an overlap.

Joy-To-Boyl buttons, (or Joy-Tu-Boil on some cards) were only advertised from 1947-8, and only in Lismore, NSW and Mackay, Qld.  I wonder if these buttons were the product of Norco, a dairy co-operative in Northern NSW and south-east Queensland? Norco displayed casein products at agricultural shows from around 1938-1947, with one article claiming that buttons, buckles, dolls heads and other products were made at the Norco Casein factory. This may be in error, perhaps  only the casein was made at the factory, to be in turn made into other items. Such a mystery.

The Tiny Tots buttons were only advertised in 1954, although the design of buttons (rabbit, fish, duck and elephant) were mounted on other styles of Beauclaire cards for a longer period. These cards are not common. Perhaps they were indeed only sold in one year, or perhaps the buttons all ended up on lovingly home-made dresses and knits.

Beutron only advertised buttons specifically for babies and children in 1957.

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4th May 2022

Pulteney Grammar School, Adelaide







This is one of Australia’s oldest schools, opening on 29th May 1848. It has moved a couple of times, being  sited at 190 South Terrace since 1921.

State Library SA, image PRG 280/1/26/202.  Opening of new school site in 1921

Chronicle (Adelaide) 24th July 1926. Special assembly for Principal W. P. Nicholls’ 25th year of service.


Christchurch Boys High School







This is a school in Christchurch, New Zealand, opened in 1881, originally on the site of the (now) University of Canterbury, but moving to Straven Road in 1926.

The Press, 25th January 1881 page 2.

New Zealand Herald, 8th February 1926 page 11. Official opening of new school buildings.

? Salisbury High School

This button came with the label ‘Salisbury H.S.’ attached, but I cannot confirm this as a new school logo was adopted in 1994.

The school was planned from 1953 and opened in 1959.

From the Parlimentary Papers, Report of Minister of Education , SA Government, 1958.

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3rd May 2022

 Contemporary Beutron Buttons.

I don’t often add contemporary Beutron buttons into my collection, as they have not been made in Australia for several decades, and one has to set some kind of limits on their collection, don’t they? No judgement at all to those who do collection them; today’s ephemera may be tomorrow’s collectables.

These bright and cheery modern ‘goofies” arrived in a tin of buttons I bought. Some are backmarked Beutron. They are rather cute as a group!

2nd May 2022

Aros Buckles

This card of buckles solves a mystery. I was asked several years ago who made Aros buckles, but did not know …

H. Arendsen & Sons are Melbourne based metal ware manufacturers since 1938 and registered in 1941. They made Australian Army buttons during WW2 . The original firm has been liquidated, but business continues under the entity of Stomcor Shelving. ‘Aros’ was trademarked in Australia in 1946 and America in 1978, but was cancelled in 2001.



‘Overseas Trading’ magazine, 31st March 1978 page194.

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1st May 2022

Update on Bone buttons

See also http://www.austbuttonhistory.com/29th-august-2021/

Bone was not only sliced and cut into ‘blanks’, it was also ground up. Processed horn (ground horn mixed with adhesive then moulded) may show a ‘pick mark’ on the back where the button was prised from the mould.  Bones were also used to make the buttons shown below. It is marked “Buttons of Gelatin. Made in Germany”.

The buttons are small, a little less than 1cm in diameter.

I was puzzled as to how gelatin buttons were made. Gelatin is an animal product rendered from the hides and bones of animals, typically pork skins, pork, horses, cattle bones, and split cattle hides. The production of gelatin starts with the boiling of bones, skins, and hides of cows and pigs, a process that releases the protein-rich collagen from animal tissues. The collagen is boiled and filtered numerous times, dried, and ground to a powder. Presumably the buttons are pressed from this powder.

The term ‘Ges. Gesch’ at the top of the card is an abbreviation for ‘Gesetzlich Geschutzt’ a German equivalent to the term ‘patent’ and also similar to the French ‘Bréveté’ which  appears on the bottom of the buttons. The term may have been used from the last quarter of the 19th century until the 1960s, but I’m not sure.

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30th April 2022

Tailors’ Buttons

A. C. McEachern, Brisbane

Archibald Cranston McEachern was a wanderer. Born in 1881 in Hill End, NSW, he moved to West Australia after his marriage in 1903 but only stayed there for several years. By 1907 he had moved back to NSW.

Lithgow Mercury (NSW), 4th October 1907 page 1.

He stayed in Lithgow until August 1910 when he left for Sydney with the intention of travelling to Queensland. He had moved Gympie by April 1911, where he became conductor of  the local choral society. Only two years later, he was again on the move, this time to Brisbane.  Again, he became involved in singing, and also the Masons.

The Brisbane Courier, 19th march 1914 page 2.

State Library of Queensland collection.

Here he stayed the longest, not leaving for the Southport until around 1935, then Maleny by 1943. He died in 1959.

Thomson, Son & Co., Sydney

The company was established in 1902 and was listed as a limited company in 1930. It was last mentioned in print in 1947 as a propriety limited company. In 1916 the premises were seriously damaged by fire. Mr Thomson senior was James Thomson (1844-1927), born in Scotland. The son in the firm was James Stevens Thomson (1883-1956).

The Sydney Stock and Station Journal, 25th April 1902.


daily Pictorial (Sydney), 22nd July 1930 page 14.

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29th April 2022

A General Plastics Design on a Landico Button

Although I have photographed this button previously, it was only today when I was mounting my Landico buttons on card that it hit me … this is a version of the “Beauclaire Rose”!

Now I am even more puzzled. As I have previously mentioned, they also made buttons with  designs used by G. Herring, (the maker of Beutron buttons and the main rival for General Plastics). All three companies were contemporary. Were they buying or leasing each others’ designs? This rose pattern first turns up on a Herrman Co. card, features on many Beauclaire cards (as well as Embassy and Woolworths: both supplied by GP), then after the merger of G.P. and Beutron, on Beutron buttons for decades.


A Bright Idea?

Australian Women’s Weekly, 5th October 1960 page 36.

The Riverine Grazier (Hay, NSW), 3rd December 1954 page 2.

The only cards of buttons I own that employ sellotape are New Zealand Beauclaire branded examples. At least that dates them! It was not a good method of attachment; the buttons tending to come off.

Update on History of Horn Buttons, from 1851

The Sydney Morning Herald, 17th February 1851 page 2.

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28th April 2022

More Tailors’ Buttons

“Wear only Elephant Moles”

Moles, or Moleskin trousers are made from thick brushed cotton fabric that are warm and hard wearing. Traditionally they were work wear, although currently they are also worn for casual wear. “Elephant” must have been a brand name. It makes me chuckle, though!

The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser (NSW ), 31st March 1888 page 5.

The West Australian (Perth), 10th May 1911 page 6.

Holle, Sydney

A tarnished metal button.

In 1839 three tailors came to Sydney from London; Wiliam Müller, John Frederick Holle and Henry Stone and set up in George Street. When Mr Müller died in 1841, the others continued as ‘Stone & Holle’ until 1855.

Empire (Sydney), 25th January 1855 page 1.

Mr Holle left the colony and traveled to Europe until 1860 when he advertised that he was recommencing business at no. 277 George Street. John Holle was born in Bremmen, Germany in 1813 and died in Sydney in 1892.

From the Caroline Simpson Library. c.1871.  277 George Street is the door at  the left.

The Sun (Sydney), 7th September 1951 page 13.

The firm of J. K. Holle Pty. Ltd. was wound up in 1957.

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