6th November 2020

Pre Federation New South Wales Police







Thanks to Don for sharing with me these pictures.

Peter Tait was a poor Scotsman who moved in 1844 to Limerick, Ireland, and through hard work was able to open the Limerick Clothing Factory in 1853. With contracts to the British for the Crimean War, the Canadians for their militia, the Confederates during the Civil War, and others, they made thousands of uniforms and employed over a thousand sewers. The Taits became rich. Many of the family were involved in the business, including his brother Robert Thomas Tait (1838-1903) . They expanded into London. Unfortunately, the business became bankrupt  (payment from the Confederates was seized, a partner was corrupt, etc) and closed in 1875. However, the factory would reopen under new management with Robert as the Managing Director until 1889. Peter would die in poverty.

One writer on a blog about Confederate history stated that all the Tait firms merged in 1866. I cannot confirm that, but if true, the above police button dates 1862-66. However, as Robert remained involved with the factory until 1889, then it could be later. I cannot rule out that he did not engage in business of his own after leaving Limerick in 1889 and moving to London.

See https://www.limerick.ie/sites/default/files/media/documents/2020-03/a-stitch-in-time-resized.pdf

A button by P. Tait & Co, Limerick was sold by Noble Numismatics in 2018. It was for the 14th Regiment of Foot who served in Australia.  This button has the tiger facing the opposite way to that in Cossum’s book, so may date from another era.

See also http://www.austbuttonhistory.com/uncategorized/26th-october-2020/

Addendum: Don kindly sent me some of these buttons. There are two backmarks “Hebbert & Co London” and ” R. T. Tait & Co London” that are otherwise  identical front and back. Apparently Hebbert & Co were military outfitters/contractors from 1852-1895 turning to police and railway outfitters later on in the century. Perhaps they both had their buttons supplied by the same manufacturer.

For all comments and questions, please use the Contact page.