3rd March 2023

Pre Federation South Australian Uniform Buttons

All these buttons came from South Australia, and were used on volunteer defence force uniforms.

SA Militia

Although the title of the partially paid volunteers during the period of 1877- 1887 was often written as “Volunteer Militia Force”, it was officially the “Volunteer Military Force”.

An example with a British backmark can be seen http://www.austbuttonhistory.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=17797&action=edit. For more information on South Australian Militia, see http://www.austbuttonhistory.com/14th-may-2022/

This example is backmarked G. & W. Shierlaw, Adelaide. These tailors operated under this name from 1860-90. The S.A.M. buttons probably date from after 1877 when, following the winding back of previous volunteer forces, a new force was established. The snippet below shows that the firm supplied the new uniforms in 1878.

South Australian Register, 16th March 1878 page 7.

Note that Shierlaws were tailors, so the button was probably sourced from Britain.

South Australian Militia c.1886-8

Backmarks: Firmin & Sons, London and Firmin’s, London.

Cossum dates this design c.1886, and the ‘Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research in 1957 dated it 1888. At this time a new  Militia uniform (with gold instead of silver lace for the officers) was replacing the old Volunteer Military Forces uniforms. In 1888 G. & W. Shierlaw won the tender to supply unifortms for the next three years.

Evening Journal (Adelaide), 24th October 1888 page 3.

SA Contingent to South Africa 1898-1902.

Backmark: Stokes & Sons Melbourne.

This “General Service” design button was used by troops from Queensland, Victoria and South Australia serving in the Boer War. This button came with the other South Australian buttons from a seller in Adelaide. Therefore, although Cossum did not note Stokes & Sons as supplying the SA contingents, I feel confident they did.

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