30th November 2023

New Finds

This ‘Leda’ button was also sold on Beauclaire cards.

?Polyvinylidene chloride or polyethelene.

Leda Buttons, after the branding Beauclaire had been dropped (circa 1959) were labelled  variously as Fashion, Boil-Proof, Permalon, Permaloid and Permalite.

Although the meaning behind these names (as used by General Plastics) has been lost in time, “Permalon” was another name for “Saran”, a clear polymer called Polyvinylidene chloride, developed by Dow Chemical. There was a 1945 reference to it being used for windscreens, and also permalon tennis balls and  baby bottles. There is now a firm named Permalon making polyethelene pool liners.

The Australian Women’s Weekly, 1st November 1972 page 47.


D. C. Quinn made good quality casein buttons and button blanks. Some they  sold under the brand name ‘Delphi’ in 1954. There products were also sold by distributors  with branding such as Walkers and Cygnet.

South Western Times (Bnbury, WA), 18th November 1954 page 2. The ‘Walker’ selling the button here was not the same Walker who later distributed the buttons.

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29th November 2023

Tailor’s Buttons

Hans Schwessensen  was born in 1834 in Denmark.  According to the Queensland Library, he came to Australia in 1854, but I find no record of him until 1865 in Victoria.

State Library Qld item 198140.

He married in 1866, but his first wife died, and he remarried in 1869 to Amy Reynolds.

The Avoca Mail (Vic), 10th February 1880 page 3.

His  store in Talbot circa 1881.  Photo used with permission.

He died in 1881, and his wife, with 8 children, and another on the way, must have had no choice but to employ a tailor and keep the business going.

State Library Qld item 198138.  Amy Schwennesen, 1898.

The Avoca Mail (Vic), 13th January 1882 page 3.

The Avoca Mail, (Vic), 17th April 1885 page 2.

With her sons growing up, by 1896 she advertised as ‘A.Schwennesen & Sons”, Talbot. From 1902-1915 the firm was located in Maryborough.

Her youngest son who died after his father’s death, Walter Hans Schwennesen (1882-1949), moved to Hamilton, Victoria, around 1900 and advertised as ‘Schwennesen. The Tailor” from 1900-1931.

The Horsham Times (Vic), 20th July 1900 page 2.

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28th November 2023

Tailor’s Button

W. F. Cock, Melbourne

William Frederick Cock (1885-1967), born in Fitzroy, claimed to have been a head-cutter in a London tailoring concern.

Lancefield Mercury and West Bourke Agricultural Record (Vic), 7th December 1917 page 2.

Table Talk (Melbourne), 25th February 1915 page 25.

In the advertorial above, he claimed to have set up on the 5th floor of the Australia Building, Elizabeth St, Melbourne in 1908. However this was his location from around 1916 onwards. He was located  in Glenhuntly and Collins Street in 1914-5. He was still at the Australia Building in 1930. In common with other tailors , he would visit country locations on a regular basis to take orders.

The Australia (or APA) Building, on the corner of Flinders Lane, Elizabeth Streets, is one of Melbourne’s lost gems. Built in 1889, it was at the time the world’s 3rd tallest building at 150 feet, and the first in the world to use hydraulic elevators. In 1950 it was described as ” … the crusty old Australia Building”. It was demolished in 1980.

National Library ID 58563952. APA Building c.1897

State Library Victoria ID 2565309. ?date.

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27th November 2023

Tailors’ Buttons

Young & Ince, Ballarat/ Richard Ince, Ballarat/ Ince Bros.

The Ballarat Courier, 24th August 1875 page 2.

Richard Ince snr moved from Melbourne to Ballarat in 1864. After working as a cutter for Christies & Co he went into partnership with Robert Young in 1875. Mr Young died in 1886, aged only 46 years.

The Ballarat Star, 14th January 1886 page 2.

Richard continued the business until retiring in 1901, selling the business to Mr W. H. Gent.

This button was presumably used between 1886-1901.

The Ballarat Star, 15th August 1901 page 5.

In 1903 Richard traveled to Melbourne where he met a young widow, married her, and died, all on the same day! A post mortem examination showed that he had died of heart failure. He had retired and also lost his wife of 45 years in the  two years previously, so he may have been emotionally vulnerable to act so impulsively.

The Bulletin, 14th February 1903 page 12. The widow was only 25 years of age. Richard died only 20 minutes after the newly weds “retired for the night”.

Two of his sons, Richard jnr (1863-1936, known as Dick) and Arthur (1855-1907), had  worked for Young & Ince. Arthur moved to Geelong by 1885 with brother Richard (Dick) moving to Melbourne by 1888 to operate separate branches of their partnership, ‘Ince Brothers’, which was still listed in Melbourne and Geelong in 1953-4, although Arthur had died in 1907, and Dick in 1936. A couple of their sons (the 3rd generation) were also tailors, and kept the name going. During the war they supplied military uniforms.

Record (Emerald Hill, Vic), 13th June 1936 page 2.

Australian National Maritime Museum item #6790. Shoulder board, manufactured by Ince Bros.

The Advance Australia (magazine), 5th September 1919 page 257.

Camperdown Chronicle (Vic), 15th September 1953 page 5.

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26th November 2023

Beutron New Finds

Late 1940s. The Circle with the 3 herrings was G. Herring’s logo.

Early 1950s.

Early 1960s.

Early 1970s

Early 1980s. These look like orange flavoured Mentos lollies.

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25th November 2023

New Finds

A 1940s General Plastics branding. I have the “starfish” button in blue, grey, yellow and green.

G. P. used the terms ‘From New York’ and ‘From Paris’ on mid 1950s cards, but not in print.

G. P. supplied G.J. Coles from around 1950 and its rival, Woolworths, from around 1954. G. Herring (later Beutron) continued this some time after 1957.

Woolworths: c. 1954

Woolworths c. 1980s. Possibly imported.










Coles: c. 1959.

Coles: Early 1970s.











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24th November 2023

Victorian Rifle Regiments: 1880-90

Backmark: Stokes & Sons.

Cossum has two variations of these regiments’ buttons at the top of page 10, one by Stokes & Sons, and one by Hebbert & Co. I have one marked with the Crossed Sword trademark. It needs to be pointed out out that as this design was generic for Queen Victoria’s era rifle brigades that the same or similar design may be found throughout the former British  Empire. The design continued to be used in Victoria, excepting with the Tudor (King’s Crown) until 1903 when the Australian Commonwealth Military Forces was instituted.

This button with the Stokes & Sons backmark dates the button from 1893 onwards, after the dissolution of the previous partnership with Martin.

W. H. Smith & Sons Limited

1883-1898. Image used with permission.

National Maritime museum item #00037518. Plaque to Howard Smith Line house flag.








Englishman William Howard Smith (1814-1890) brought his family to Australia in 1854. His first steam shipping business here was a successful passenger Melbourne-Geelong service, with partner S. P. O. Skinner. Eight years later he sold out to start an intercolonial business with his ship, the You Yangs, running between Melbourne, Sydney and Newcastle. He was again successful, and able to buy a second ship, the Dandenong, which was later unfortunately wrecked. He became the largest coal importer into Melbourne with a growing fleet. Three of his sons had joined the firm by the late 1870s. It became a limited liability company in 1883 then a propriety limited company in 1898. It then became the Howard Smith Co Ltd in 1901. From 1870 captain Smith had ceased sailing, although he stayed in management until 1887. Smith was involved in many maritime pursuits, including the Maritime Harbour Trust, the Marine Board of Victoria, the Melbourne Sailors’ Home and the Victorian Shipwreck Relief Society. Upon his death in 1890 the firm continued under the control of four of his sons.

The Argus (Melbourne), 24th March 1890 page 8.

Leader (Melbourne), 1st January 1901 page 78.

The firm  got out of passenger services to focus on bulk and speciality shipping. It diversified into coal mining, steel production, stevedoring, travel, railway rolling stock building, sugar production and retail. It was the largest operator of tug boats. From 1990 its divisions were sold off, with the firm closing in 2001.

The Pictorial Australian (Adelaide), 1st September 1894 page 1.

Chronicle (Adelaide), 26th March 1936 page 38. The Canberra was a fast, reliable and popular cruise and freight ship in her day. She was used as a troop ship during WW1.

See http://ssmaritime.com/TSS-Canberra.htm

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23rd November 2023

South Australian Marine Board: 1860-1925

Imaged used with permission of Robert Cuthbert. Date button 1882-1901.

What a wonderful button this was when new. The image is from the Board’s seal, gazetted in 1882:

The Advertiser, 27th October 1882 (as reported in the Advertiser 27th October 1932 page 17).

The words ‘Marine Board Sth Australia’ are within a garter encircling the image, and is surmounted by Queen Victoria’s Crown, dating it from 1882-1901, although the board operated from 1860-1925.

According to the Encyclopedia of Australian Science and Innovation, in 1860 the board took over the responsibilities of the Trinity House of Port Adelaide and the Port Adelaide Harbour Trust.  The Marine Board was responsible for shipping safety, buoys, lighthouses, pilots, dredging and explosives amongst other functions. They were responsible for Port Darwin, as the Northern Territory was then part of South Australia.

South Australian Weekly Chronicle (Adelaide), 1st September 1860 page 5. Part of a long-winded report in which various members of Government complained they had only just received the Bill, hadn’t had time to properly read it, but still had complaints to make.

State Library of SA: Lighthouse map of the province of South Australia/ Marine Board of South Australia [C 930] 1883. Shows lighthouses, bays, jetties and wharves.

The Sydney Morning Herald (1st January 1926 page 4.

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22nd November 2023

New South Wales Naval Brigade

“Firmin & Sons Ld. 153 Strand & 47 Warwick St London. According to the UF DetectorFinds database this dates from1880-1894.









Cossum, on page 55 of his defence buttons book, lists this button as c.1899 with no maker marked. The backmark above dates the button more precisely.

The brigade lasted from 1863 until 1899. As well as the Firmin backmark, I have seen this button with a backmark of ‘David Jones &Co. Sydney’. David Jones did provide uniforms through their tailoring departments well into the 20th century.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 4th November 1861 page 1. Initial steps were taken in 1861 to establish the brigade.

The Almanac of Australia and official record, 1882 page 92.

Australian Town and Country Journal (Sydney), 17th March 1900 page 31.

The exert above is from from a long article critical of the “home authorities” (ie. British government, Admiralty, War Office) lack of support of colonial forces. It also pointed out the existence of the co-existing Naval Artillery Volunteers, which was not ideal, as it included ‘landsmen” as well as “seamen”. In 1900 the brigade was described as “practically defenceless for want of modern armament, and useless for want of a ship in which to protect out coastline.”

The Brigade served in China in 1900-1 during the Boxer Rebellion.

Royal Australian navy News, 30th July 2015 page 15.

The Year Book of New South Wales 1904, page 162.

Australian National Maritime Museum: photo of a Petty Officer of the NSW Naval brigade 1889-1895.

The new, combined NSW Naval Brigade formed in 1902 was superseded by the Royal Australian Navy in 1911.

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21st November 2023

A Great Find: W.A.T.C.

Carol has found uniform buttons by Stokes & Sons Melbourne of the Women’s Air Training Corps.








For the story of this corps, see http://www.austbuttonhistory.com/3rd-november-2022/

More Uniform buttons:

Images used with kind permission.

1860 N.S.W. Volunteer Rifles.

This example was backmarked C.K. Moore Sydney. He was a uniform supplier. For more about him see



Victorian Rifles 1901-1903

There was only a small window of time between the Coronation of King Edward VII and the formation of the new Commonwealth Forces in 1903. Bertie ordered the use of the new cyphers and crown in 1901. There were 2 cyphers; one Imperial and one Royal. The crown changed from the several that were used during Victoria’s reign, including the “Queen Victoria” crown, a version of the St Edward’s crown.

Government Gazette of the State of New South Wales, 29th August 1901 page 6713.



Australian Town and Country Journal (Sydney), 7th September 1901, page 38.

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