Circa 1870 VR Buttons with Escutcheon
I mentioned yesterday that one of the NZ volunteer forces buttons I shared was actually sourced from Australia, although it is of identical design. I now have 3 variations of this types of button.
C. R. Martin was a Melbourne based warehouseman/importer of military accoutrements, not a manufacturer. These buttons suggest that Smith & Wright supplied his buttons. In J. K. Cossum’s book ‘Buttons of the Defence Forces in Australia’ this design button is depicted on pages 26 (for Tasmanian Volunteer, Medical & Retired Staff 1870-1901) and on page 29 (for Western Australian Volunteer, Medical & Retired Staff 1870-1901) and according to JSMilitaria was used by some New Zealand Volunteer units from 1866 to 1909, with an example from Smith & Wright depicted on his website.
I don’t think it is a stretch to suggest that Smith & Wright supplied all buttons of this design as a universal uniform button from around 1870. They probably also produced the NSW Military Forces 1870-80 button shown in Cossum on page 5. This varies only in the addition of a banner marked ‘New South Wales’ being added to the bottom of the escutcheon.
(George) Smith & (John) Kemp were manufacturers in Birmingham in 1838 when John Skirrow Wright was employed by the firm. In 1850 he became a partner in what was now called Smith, Kemp & Wright. In 1864 Kemp left the partnership. They continued as Smith & Wright until 1888, then as Smith & Wright Ltd. Although becoming part of the Firmin House Group in the 20th century, this backmark continued to be used during WW1 at least.