30th April 2021

Tailor’s Button

J. B. Gunn, Pt. Adelaide

James Benjamin Gunn (1885-1975) had a tailoring store in Divett St, Port Adelaide from 1910. James took his brother into partnership in 1914 but continued under the business name of  ‘J. B. Gunn’. He  moved to Largs Bay around 1938.


New Finds

Beauclaire: Early 1950s

Beutron: Early 1970s. So red, so glossy!





29th April 2021

 Tailors’ Buttons: Father and Son

P. Goudie, Port Adelaide

Port Adelaide News and Lefevre’s Peninsula Advertiser (SA ), 19th June 1891 page 2.


Peter Goudie was born in Paisley, Scotland in 1857, coming to Adelaide in 1881. He worked first with Messrs. Jones Brothers, then with  J. T. McLean. He began his own business in Commercial Road, Port Adelaide in 1889, after a period  in partnership with Mr R. H. Samuel. He became ill late in 1924, and died a year later, aged 68 years. Peter Goudie was remembered as a well-liked, hard working handicapper for the Port Adelaide Racing Club. He had also been a bowler, a local councillor, and Freemason. As a councillor, he had been instrumental in getting electric trams for Port Adelaide.

News, (Adelaide), 27th November 1925.


Geo. C. Goudie, Port Adelaide

Not only did George Cavanagh Goudie (1890-1964) take over his father’s tailoring business when he retired, the Port Adelaide Racing Club also asked him to take over as handicapper in 1925. His work as handicapper for about 20 racing clubs did not result in his retiring from tailoring until some time after 1934.

News (Adelaide), 5th January 1927 page 6.




28th April 2021

Foreign Buttons

Collectors like to know where, when and by whom, their treasures have originated. Whatever the appeal of a style or type of product to a given collector, knowing the “story” of the item adds to our collecting pleasure. So what to make of buttons back-marked, or cards of buttons stamped or printed with ‘Foreign’?

It often indicates that the items were intended for import into Britain or America, but not where they were made.

In 1887 the ‘British Merchandise Marks Act’ required  goods imported to Britain to be marked with the country of origin. The main target of this legislation was Germany, suspected of copying British goods to the detriment of British manufacturers. In the USA in  the 1890 Tariff Act (a.k.a.’McKinley Tariff’) was introduced. It required foreign goods for importation to be marked “Foreign” and after 1923 to be marked with the country of origin. The act was soon amended to require goods to be marked with the country of origin. Despite this, the term ‘Foreign’ was used, legally, on and off as suited manufacturers in countries in the political bad books at various times.

Advocate(Burnie, Tas), 8th July 1939 page 1. I don’t know if this Act was passed.

The Acts were not effective as intended, as “Made in Germany” came to indicate a quality product, and actually increased consumption! The McKinley Act was unpopular as it resulted in significant price increases.

I have 1940-1950s glass buttons (i.e. imported) on cards branded with Australian distributors or stores, for example Walkers and Myers. These are not marked ‘Foreign’ or with any indication as to origin. Were buttons imported here not required to be so marked? Did they get around any such legislation by carding the buttons locally? G. Herring marked some, but not all, of their imported glass buttons as from ‘Western Germany’.

27th April 2021

Uniform Buttons

Allied Mutual Insurance (AMI)

No maker’s mark.







The logo as seen on the buttons was changed in 2018.

This company started in 1926 as the South Island Motor Union. Problems with finance post the 2010-11 Christchurch earthquakes led to the sale of this company. Last year it was announced that the remaining branches were to be phased out.



Does anyone recognise this logo? There is a electronics manufacturing firm based in the ACT called Maestro Pty. Ltd. since the 1980s, but their current logo does not match the button.

26th April 2021

New Zealand made Beauclaire buttons

General Plastics  (NZ) started in 1939 as British Buttons and Buckles. It was renamed around 1946 and continued into the 1960s. It was renamed (?bought out) in 1969.



No maker’s mark.

The State Government Insurance Office was set up in Western Australia in 1926, after the success of the Queensland  version from 1916. The main thrust was to support  gold miners who might develop lung disease in the course of their profession. There was opposition to this from the Opposition (no pun intended), claiming it would cost too much and should be left to private insurance companies. The Labour Government at the time claimed that private firms were refusing to offer quotations for the scheme, forcing the government to do so. Despite the actual existence of the Insurance Office, the scheme did not pass into state legislation until 1938!

The West Australian (Perth), 17th December 1938 page 22.

Over the years the insurance office extended to cover compulsory 3rd party motor vehicle , school children’s and general insurance. Privatised in 1994, the firm offers car,motorcycle, home,business, boat, caravan and travel insurance.

The Beverley Times (WA), 19th May 1977 page 5.


25th April 2021

R. J. Harvey & Co.

If it is correct that the firm moved to the Nicholas Building in 1983, this card dates from after then.


State Library of Victoria, image #2099341 circa 1888.

Punch (Melbourne), 7th February 1918 page 15.















Reuben John Harvey (1869-1946) had been the senior partner of this company of tailors’ trimmings importers, started around 1895.

The Age (Melbourne), 14th June 1919 page 12.

His business moved from Queens Walk to 210 Swanston Street around 1923 then to the Nicholas Building in 1983.  The company was deregistered in 2012. For a photo of the business in the 1950s, see  https://viewer.slv.vic.gov.au/?entity=IE7239218&mode=browse


24th April 2021

Tasmanian  Buttons

Again, thanks to Colin.

H. M. Gaol Tasmania

HM Goal Department replaced the Sheriffs Department in 1936 and was in turn replaced by the Goals Department in 1944. It was responsible for the Campbell Street Goal in Hobart as well local goals and watch houses.


 Post & Telegraph/Post Office Tasmania







The ‘Post & Telegraph Department’ was reported in Tasmanian newspapers from 1892. However, telegraph was established in Van Diem’s Land as early as 1821, with “Post & Telegraph” offices built around Australia in the 1860s.

Following Federation the colonial post and telegraph services came under the control of the Post Master General’s Department. It was not until 1975 that postal services were separated from telegraphic communications when the PGM was split into Australia Post and Telecom.

23rd April 2021

Country Fire Brigade

On the Government Uniform page there is a button tentatively ascribed to the Castlemaine Fire Brigade. http://www.austbuttonhistory.com/uniform-buttons-2/uniform-buttons/#Castlemaine_possibly_Fire_Brigade The button dates from around 1885-1898. The Castlemaine Brigade started in the 1850s; however the Country Fire Brigades Board was instituted in 1890 in Victoria to have responsibility for all fire Brigades greater than 16 kilometers from Melbourne. Could this be a generic C.F.B. button, a later example of which can be seen below?

Metal trouser buttons.

The Hercules Branded buttons were made in Germany, and are better quality. They are thick moulded button with smooth edges. The Australian made are a cut/stamped from a thin sheet of metal with rougher edges.


22nd April 2021

New South Wales Corps.

The New South Wales Corps (a.k.a. the Rum Corps) was formed in England in 1789 as three companies, and relieved the NSW Marines over the period of 1790-1792. The quality of the men was patchy as this was an unpopular posting. A fourth company was formed from marines choosing to remain in the colony. The Regiment was stationed in NSW until 1810.  They were lead by Major Francis Grose, who had arrived in 1792 to relieve Captain Phillip as Lieutenant-Governor of the colony.

Grose introduced military rule and made changes to favour officers of the Corps, including land grants and rum trading. The misuse of power and wealth that resulted is infamous, including the Rum Rebellion against Governor Bligh, and was not brought under control until Lachlan Macquarie became Governor on 1810. However, they were effective in controlling  the rebelling convicts of the 1804 battle of Vinegar Hill.

1808 cartoon of the arrest of Bligh by members of the Rum Corps.

Truth (Brisbane), 4th July 1909 page 11. From an article about “Old Sydney”.

In 1809 they were renamed the 102nd Regiment of Foot, and the bulk of the troops recalled to England. Some remained, absorbed into Macquarie’s 73rd Regiment, and some were formed into a veteran and invalids troop. Some retired officers remained as farmers in NSW.

An officer’s shoulder plate. As the designation “102nd” only dates from 1809, these date from after the regiment returned home. Courtesy Royal Army Museum https://collection.nam.ac.uk/detail.php?q=searchType%3Dsimple%26resultsDisplay%3Dlist%26simpleText%3DNew%2Bsouth%2Bwales&pos=4&total=19&page=1&acc=1979-02-87-1

Miniature in the State Library of NSW collection: Officer of the NSW Corps, William Cox. Note the plain buttons.

William Lincoln from a British reproduction uniforms manufacturer kindly shared knowledge and these diagrams with me (original source unknown).  They are pewter buttons dug up in Tasmania including plain examples and those marked for the 73rd Regiment of Foot who were stationed there from 1810-1814.

“Brass cone shank button. A flat undecorated disk, 17mm diameter, 1mm thick, with the remains of a copper wire shank soldered in place of a central boss.”




21st April 2021

 New South Wales Marines

The first troops sent to Australia were the New South Wales Marines, established in England as a volunteer unit of the British Royal Navy in 1786. They guarded the convicts on the First Fleet from May 1787 to January 1788 then provided law and order enforcement as well as defence at Port Jackson and Norfolk Island. Inducements to volunteer included a 2 guinea payment and the option of  discharge after 3 years duty in the colony. Some histories describe them as honorable and hard working, who along with the convicts suffered hardship and privation. However, a  Wikipedia entry claims “The marines had a habit of getting drunk and not guarding the convicts properly, whilst their commander, Major Robert Ross drove (Captain Arthur) Phillip to despair with his arrogant and lazy attitude.”

Image thanks to Vanessa Pike Russell https://www.flickr.com/photos/25056484@N00/1240349386

Their uniform consisted of red, long-tailed doublet with white trousers, black headdress,shoes and garters. The buttons were  standard “Fouled Anchor” of the Royal Marines. Unfortunately, Royal Marine buttons have been varied both over time and between manufacturers.

From the Royal Museums Greenwich collection. Fouled Anchor button on 1774 uniform.

From the Royal Museums Greenwich collection. This is a button on a uniform dating from November 1787. The NSW Marine Corps had already sailed, so may have sported the other button.