31st March 2021

Glass Button and Changing Fashions.

The first newspaper in Australia was published in 1803. The following tid-bits are gathered from the archives in Trove.

In 1831 there came the first mention of glass buttons. Plain and figured glass waistcoat buttons, glass shoe buttons and ladies dress buttons, French, fancy, small, plain, and coloured, were advertised during the 1830-70s. Black glass buttons were advertised from 1862 onwards, and large examples from 1873.

From a larger article about button manufacturing published in several newspapers from 1882-4.

The Age (Melbourne), 30th October 1888 page 2.

In the late 1890s, cut glass buttons ‘from half-crown size downwards’ were fashionable on tailored dresses, blouses and coats. They were sometimes used as trimming rather than fasteners. In 1899 there were ‘new glass buttons, painted with clusters of rosebuds and foliage’.


Western Mail (Perth), 4th April 1903, page 56. A Paris blouse, with ” narrow straps … over the shoulders ornamented with glass buttons … The full lower sleeves are buttoned with tiny glass buttons all the way down to the wrist …”

In 1904 coloured glass buttons were ‘very fashionable’, as were cut and engraved examples. In 1905 it was reported that ‘glass buttons which imitate crochet effects are … much in vogue.’ from 1912-14 ‘tiny groups and rows of glass buttons’, including ‘hollow’ type, adorned blouses. They also often adorned the outfits of bridal parties.

The Daily News (Perth), 7th February 1914 page 3.

In the 1920s, square glass buttons were mentioned for the first time.

Truth (Sydney), 27th November 1927 page 18.

The 1930s brought in glass and chromium buttons; very Art Deco! Later on, figural examples appeared.

The Australasian (Melbourne), 7th May 1938 page 23.

Glass buttons were still trimming blouses, dresses and coats during the 1940s.

The Advertiser (Adelaide), 5th August 1949 page 11. From an article about British exports heading to Australia. The name should have been Bimini, nor Brimini.

Daily Examiner (Grafton, NSW), 7th January 1949 page 3. 

Daily Examiner (Grafton, NSW), 7th January 1949 page 3. 

Also during 1949, a new West German  industry was described.

Daily Examiner (Grafton, NSW), 7th January 1949 page 3.

 This was just in time, as otherwise we would have had to buy glass buttons from the ‘Reds’!

The Chartersville Times (Qld), 7th September 1950 page 10.

By the 1960s, mention of glass buttons had all but disappeared. Plastic was King.

The Canberra Times, 11th July 1958 page 45. For sale at Woolworths.

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