19th December 2020

Livery Buttons

Livery buttons date from the middle of the eighteenth century, and were actually an incorrect    (in heraldic terms) use of family crests and less often, coats of arms, for their servants’ uniforms.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 9th August 1902 page 12.

The earliest were thin metal shells over molds. Later came one piece and then from around 1815, two piece versions. Many were silver-plated, but there were also brass, copper and non-metallic materials.

A couple of livery buttons made by Stokes & Sons of Melbourne have previously been featured.



The Heraldry Society of Australia shared an image of the first Governor-General of Australia, John Adrian Louis Hope, 1st Marquess of Linlithgow, 7th Earl of Hopetoun.

See  https://www.facebook.com/AustralianHeraldry/posts/2801565586796493?comment_id=2801574953462223

With snobbery alive and well in the colonies there were metal workers and importers ready to  supply livery buttons.

The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser, 6th December 1834 page 2.

In 1838 in Sydney, R. Bourne & Co advertised ‘fancy gilt and plated livery coat buttons’. So did John George Richardson of No.5 George Street, both ‘plain and convex’, in 1841.

The Austral-Asiatic Review, Tasmanian and Australian Advertiser (Hobart Town), 13th August 1841 page 1.

In 1844 Kelk and Morton of Hobart Town were also able to supply “a large assortment of livery crest buttons.”

The Sydney Morning Herald, 6th January 1845 page 3. “J.M.” was James McEvoy of Albert House, Pitt Street, Sydney.

Livery buttons were still being advertised in 1917, but whether they were true livery, or simply livery-style fashion buttons it is not clear.

Perhaps it is just as well livery buttons were not too common here, as they were expensive!

The Newcastle Sun (NSW), 3rd November 1947 page 1.

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