G. Herring (Beutron)

See also the page of vintage Beutron advertising.


G. Herring & Co. Ltd. 1931-1939

The company did not start out in manufacturing buttons. ‘G. Herring and Co.’ advertised for a travelling salesman for sheep-branding oil in 1931-2. In March 1933 it became G. Herring and Co. Ltd., cotton spinners and manufacturers of twine, jute and flax.

Published in The Argus, 21st May 1932 page 1. The company at this stage is located in Pitt Street, Sydney. In 1937 the address was Jones Lane, Waterloo.

The Armidale Express and New England General Advertiser, 14th September 1934 page 2.

Dun’s Gazette for NSW 13th March 1933. The first directors were George Herring, Marshall Ney, Cornelius Ney and John Morrow,

G. Herring.

The company was named after George Gerard Herring (1900-1980), one of the original directors. The other original directors were Marshall Carl Adolf Ney, his brother Cornelius Frederick Bernhard Ney, and John E. Morrow (probably John Elbra Morrow, 1895-1956).  Marshall Ney (1906-1967) was the managing director from 1933 until at least 1953.  The Ney brothers were great-grand nephews of the famous Marshall Ney, a General of Napoleon’s Army from 1799. The brothers had been born in America and came to Australia by the 1920s.  As well as his work with G. Herring, Cornelius (1902-1967) was a clothing manufacturer and representative of fashion houses in Australia.

Cornelius Ney in 1931.

Australian Women’s Weekly, 20th November 1948 page 24.

Australian Women’s Weekly, 20th November 1949 page 13.

The Sun (Sydney), 7th September 1951 page 15.












The Bulletin, 21st September 1968 page 46.











They had possibly been involved in pearl-shell buttons since around 1931.

The Bulletin, 21st September 1968 page 46. The “Viennese experts” mentions came to Australia around the beginning of 1931.

The company became involved in importing plastic buttons and buckles around 1937. Also around this time they were extending into jewellery. They may have started making, or at least finishing, casein buttons at this time; certainly they were doing so by 1939.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 29th June 1937 page 16.

From Pat’s collection. This button was advertised in the Australian Women’s Weekly, 9th October 1937 page 35, for sale at Farmer’s in Sydney. Notice the Herring logo top right corner.

Novelty buttons sold on cards with the G. Herring logo. They may have been imported, or locally made. (A Sydney designer, Anne Stuart Lindsay, was designing novelty buttons in 1936.)













Truth (Brisbane) 5th September 1937 page 31.

Truth (Brisbane) 5th September 1937.

Unfortunately, the cord around one dog’s neck was brittle, and fell away in pieces.

G. Herring (Australia) Pty. Ltd. 1939-1949

In 1939 a new company, G. Herring (Aust) P/L,  was incorporated in New South Wales from the merging of this G.Heering & Co. and the Pearl Button Manufacturing Co. Ltd.

Dun’s Gazette for NSW, 30th January 1939. John F. Linton was possibly John Fred Linton, solicitor. David H. Baxter was a manager from Philp Burns.

Daily Telegraph (Sydney), 21st February 1939 page 10.

The new, merged company would continue to produce pearl buttons through the 1940’s. Burns Philip maintained a 50 percent interest in this firm.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 9th October 1941 page 13.

“Produced in Australia by War Veterans”

The term “jewel pearl” dates to 1943, as seen in the requisition below.

Commonwealth of Australia Gazette 3rd June 1943.

The Advertiser (Adelaide), 8th November 1944 page 3.

Smith’s Weekly (Sydney), 30th August 1941 page 19.

Fisheries news-letter, June 1946, page 6. During WW2  G.Herring made compass dials for Commonwealth forces and buttons for the US forces.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 4th August 1943 page 8. Grading shell and buttons. This could have been in a G. Herring factory.

The Argus (Melbourne), 26th February 1943 page 8.

The Argus, 26th February 1943 page 8. It looks like the Victorian branch of the company did not last for long.















By 1943 the company was described as a manufacturer of casein, mother-of-pearl buttons and dress accessories. The name ‘Beutron’ was first used by G. Herring for its buttons around 1946. (Interesting side note: there was a race horse named Beutron from 1941 and another around 1953. I’d guess that one or both were owned by someone to do with the company.) As the company was producing buttons from around 1939,  there was approximately a 7 year period when the buttons were otherwise labelled. A brand they may have produced in this period was “Bonnie Buttons”.  If not they may have been imported by the company.

These buttons are also found on ‘Beutron Wash Buttons’ cards. See below:

The photos below shows that the name Beutron was originally used by the company as a name for a type of plastic (note that the Tub Buttons were ‘Made from Beutron. The plastic of the Future’). The buttons may be casein. Soon the trade name would apply to the buttons, instead of the plastic. The term “Tub buttons” was used in advertising from 1945-1949.













“The Plastic of the Future”

Reports  of a court case in 1945 shed light on the operations of the company:













Truth (Sydney), 20th May 1945 page 14.














Daily Mercury (Queensland), 11th November 1946 page 5.

On the back of some 1960s cards it is stated “Beautiful Beutron Buttons were originally manufactured only in Australia.” This ignores the first ‘Beutron’ buttons to be advertised (as above) were clearly not made in Australia.

The Canberra Times, 29th July 1947 page 4.
Note that the buttons are made from ‘strong Beutron plastic’. It was the plastic, not the buttons that were originally branded.

Warwick Daily News (Queensland), 4th May 1948 page 1. G. Herring also made jewellery at this time.

1948-49 Sydney directory. The name for cables, ‘Wilscour’ relates historically to the start of the firm as producers of sheep branding oil in 1931-2. G. Herring may have produced costume jewellery only for a couple of years, 1947-9.

Large cards: Tub, Wash and Boiling Buttons

These cards, approx 12.5 x 19mm, date from the 1940s, but overlapped with the use of smaller cards into the early 1950s at least. They were variously labelled; tub buttons, wash buttons, ‘will stand boiling’, etc. Why there were so many  variations to the marketing, with different names and cards is a mystery? In newspapers, the term ‘Tub buttons’ was used in advertising from 1945-1949, and ‘Boiling buttons’ from 1937 -1954. Beutron Boiling buttons in particular were mentioned from 1946-1949, afterwards the term ‘boil proof’ tended to be used instead.

The Mercury (Hobart) 4th November 1948 page 4.

The Sun (Sydney) 12th June 1949 page 39.


The Sun (Sydney) 2nd February 1950 page 2.





















































The buttons above and below were made expressly for ‘Richall’ Melbourne. This company made clothes such as blouses and school wear from 1949-1961.





















Sunday Herald (NSW), 13th March 1949 page 8. It states “Buttons by G. Herring Pty. Ltd.” Details below:







The Sun (Sydney), 3rd March, 1949 page 22.


In 1948,  before Opal-Glo was advertised, G. Herring advertised ‘Irridel’. They were both marketed simultaneously during 1949, then Irridel was dropped as a brand name until being resurrected in 1957.

From 1952 until 1954 G. Herring advertised its Beutron Pearl Originals. These buttons were also referred to as ‘pearly’, ‘pastel pearl’ and ‘pearl with diamente’.


G. Herring (Australia) Pty. Ltd. 1949-1959


‘Opal-Glo’ was a line of iridescent buttons trademarked by G.Herring on 20th December 1948  using a combination of two American plastic formulas. 

1949 trademark

There were at that time 130 men designing and making more than one million buttons per week. The company mixed and coloured their own plastic. The powdered plastic would be poured into extruding machines to be forced under pressure into long rods of varying diameter. These rods were cut by machine into buttons then the holes drilled. After glazing and waxing the buttons would be inspected, carded, packed and distributed. The company at that time were opening their 3rd factory in and around Sydney. A small card of Opal-Glo buttons cost one shilling. By 1953 the price was one shilling and four and half pence, dropping back to one shilling three pence by 1956. 

Opal-Glo sample board. Design #660. Colour names below:









Opal-glo buttons had design numbers. (There was numbering on earlier Beutron cards, but they are not consistent, and may not have anything to do with the Opal-Glo numbering.) ‘Opal-Glo’ buttons appear on both large and smaller cards. These cards never appeared in advertising, but I presume they date from late 1940s- late 1950s.





























All Purpose Buttons

From around 1949 til 1959 there were yellow carded ‘All Purpose’ buttons with matching cotton. Advertising from 1949 onwards shows that Opal-Glo buttons were sold on these cards.

The earlier (from 1949) cards had no price printed on the cards.

From 1951 the price went up from 1 shilling to 1/3.

Faux-stitching around the centres.

Faux-stitching around the edges.

G. Herring was not consistent with their marketing. Other (non Opal-Glo) buttons were also sold on General Purpose cards.

Top left: black glass.



Along with Opal-Glo, G. Herring’s other main lines in the 1950’s included ‘Originals’,  which included ‘light as a feather’ plastics, metal coated dress buttons  and glass buttons. Some of these (e.g. the glass) were imported from West Germany.

Glass beads/buttons. Early 1950s.

Faceted black glass in 3 sizes.

All black glass, most with silver/gold lustre.

Glass cabochons in metal bases. A missing cabochon shows the base.

The cabochon buttons are on cards with blank backs. The other glass buttons have this on the back:

The card displaying the 3 different colours is just to show variation in that style; it was not sold that way.

The 2 cards from the left are glass with diamente centres (some missing).

‘Design under glass’ teddy bears. This design is also seen in plastic on Beutron Kiddie cards. Was the design made under license for the plastic buttons?



I’m surprised these standard plastic buttons are mounted on ‘Originals’ cards. Most were mounted on Opal-Glo/General Purpose cards.

Left: ‘Pearls’ with metal shanks. Right: sew-through ‘pearl’ beads.

A late 1950 version of an Original card.

Some of the glass ‘Originals’ are labelled “made expressly for Beutron in Western Germany”.

The name ‘West Germany’ was the English term for the ‘Federal Republic of Germany’ from 1950 until reunification in 1990. Before that, from 1945-49, exported buttons were labelled ‘Germany – US – zone’. Ethnic Germans involved in the Bavarian glass button industry were forced to leave the lands being ceded to Czechoslovakia. Resettling in the new West Germany they re-established from scratch (most of their equipment and moulds being left behind) a glass button and bead industry, making the country the dominant glass manufacturing area during the 1950-60s. The remnant button industry in Czechoslovakia under Soviet control did not export buttons until the break up of the USSR circa 1990.

‘Originals’ were also sold on larger cards, as these metalised plastic buttons show. All three designs are also seen in non-metalised versions.












There were also ‘Boil-tested Whites’ (for uniforms) and cardigan buttons.

Cardigan Buttons

These included backing disks to stop the button pulling through the knitting, as shown in this detail from a 1950 advert.

Australian Women’s Weekly, 25th March 1950 page 23.

This article describes the metalised buttons shown above, as well as the cardigan buttons below:

The Newcastle Sun (NSW), 26 January 1950 p13.


Boil Tested Whites

These cards were possibly only used in 1952-4.

This design was used for many years in more than one type of plastic. The right lower corner shows the older card, the rest date from the late 1950s- early 1960s

Late 1950s. Note one card marked ‘made in England’.


Press Studs

The Sunday Mail (Brisbane) on the 5th July 1953, trumpeted the ‘most sensational advances in the Australian button trade’.  What was the cause of this excitement, you ask?  The new Beutron press stud pearl buttons with the  clip on top that could ‘be removed in seconds’ for washing or dry-cleaning.

Available in 3 sizes and 10 shades.


Published in The Newcastle Sun, 26th January 1950 page 13.

A disastrous fire, sparked by an electrical storm on Sunday morning, the 16th November 1952,  destroyed the Herring button factory, and damaged a couple of neighbouring factories. Employees living near-by rushed to help fight the fire.  More arrived to protect the machinery from the heat and water, and to help clean up. The company was able to start manufacturing buttons the following week. Below is a thank-you letter from the managing director, Marshall Carl Ney, published in several newspapers.

Daily Telegraph, 17th November 1952.

Little more than a year later there was another fire that destroyed most of the second story of a Herring’s button factory.  This time twelve had to flee, with two sustaining minor burns. The Sydney Morning Herald, on 19th January 1954,  announced planned for a new factory to be built for G.Herring with an amusing title:

The Sydney Morning Herald, 19th January 1954 page 13.

‘Building, Lighting and Engineering’ 24th February 1954 page 36.


The Herald (Melbourne) 4th April 1953 page 2. At the time women were paid 9 pennies to sew six cards with 24 buttons, the factory manager was to start at £1500!

Detail of Women’s Weekly Ad: 21 April 1954 page 33.

Buying buttons at G & R Wills, Perth, 1953. Note the Beutron displays on the counter, and draws of buttons lining the wall behind it.

For many years Beutron buttons were made in Australia, but as the company thrived and demand increased, factories would be opened overseas. G. Herring established G. Beutron (Hong Kong) Limited on 21st May 1954 with Cornelius Ney, brother of Marshall Ney, as the manger. According to  https://industrialhistoryhk.org/64226-2/ they then built a four story, 12000 square foot factory called Beutron House  in Aberdeen, HK, to make polyester buttons. The firm became ‘Herculoid Far East’ on  20th August 1957. In 1964, seventy-five workers were producing 25-30 tons of buttons and blanks per month. The firm was dissolved on 24th February 1984.

In the late 1950s Australian made Beutron buttons were reportedly shipped in cardboard tubes to Japan to be sewn onto cards  then re-imported for retail sale.


Details from 1958 Tariff Report

Herculoid (Aust) Pty. Ltd.  (mentioned above) was registered in 1953, and in liquidation in 1973.

Dun’s Gazette for NSW, 17th April 1953 page 137.


In 1958 Beutron’s new ‘Tecpearl’ buttons were marketed (note that “Techperl” buttons had been mentioned in advertising as fitted to business shirts from 1954, but hadn’t been marketed by G. Herring before.) These were pearl-like plastic buttons with (supposedly) the look of pearl without the inconvenience. They were still being sold in 1965. It probably marked a move away from casein to polyester plastic buttons.

The Canberra Times, 1st November 1958 page 5.

A detail from a 1958 advert shows that Beutron supplied quite a few well know brands.

Probably the earliest Tecpearl card is on the same type of blue card as “boil-proof whites”.

“TecOpal” was never advertised. Obviously made at the same time as Tecpearl.



Late 1950s- early 1960s

The artwork for the button cards changed around this time. Example with boil tested and Tecpearl are shown above. Following are the new Opal-Glo cards. Note that at some stage the cards were changed again, with the cotton and the words ‘Opal-Glo” changing ends!

Yet another card style, this time without cotton, dates to the late 1950s:

A curiosity: “tub buttons” (1940s terminology) on a late 1950s style card


G. Herring (Australia) Pty. Ltd. 1960-1963

In 1962 Burns Philips sold the interest they had in the firm since 1938. The company was setting up more overseas factories.

Overseas Trading, 16th November 1962, page 528, discussing the building of a South African factory.

South African Beutron card.


Beutron Australia Ltd. 1963- 1970

In 1963  F.W. Williams Holding acquired a half interest in the company that was now named Beutron Australia Ltd.  By that stage there were, or had been, factories in Sydney, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Japan and  South Africa.  Beutron branded buttons were being supplied world-wide.

The Bulletin, 30th May 1964 page 73. In 1963  F.W. Williams Holding acquired a half interest in the company that was now named Beutron Australia Ltd.


Early 1960s: there were several  styles of cards being used simultaneously.

This style card is seen in 1960 adverts.

Detail from 1960 ad.

Black glass buttons are still being sold in the 60s.

Metal and metalised plastic.

Real MOP buttons. (The small white button on the top left corner is placed there to show sizing.)

“New Beutron” strip cards appeared around 1964-5. They measured approx 4.5 x 14cm. Perhaps the term new was used to indicated the change from Burns Philp to F. W. Holding as a major partner in 1963.

These are ‘double sided’ buttons. One side has a matt finish, the other gloss.

Dating from approx 1965-1966-1967. The buttons on the right are leather.

The marketing term “Colour matched” was used from 1962-1969, but it appears on cards around 1966 (as indicated by the dual prices).






















1964/65 Catalogue

A Spring/Summer catalogue of 1964/65 stated there was an  assortment of 465 Tecpearl and Opal-Glo buttons, in standard and semi-fashion ranges. The fashion selection were designed by  the “world’s leading stylists … New York, London, Paris, Rome”. There was a minimum order of 6 cards of each style, with free point of sale merchandising and wire fitment. There were different display units available for different size stores, a ‘reel unit’ for counter tops, a ‘moneyspinner’ with 75 hooks (ideal for small stores) and a ‘King size’ with 120 hooks.






















Note that the two different styles of cards below were being used simultaneously in 1964:


Summary of business during the 1960s

1962  Burns Philips sold the interest they had in the firm since 1938.

1963  F.W. Williams Holdings Ltd bought a 50 percent interest in Beutron Australia and made a cash offer for General Plastics.

1965  F.W.Williams returned no dividend from Beutron. The name Beutron Plastics Australia Ltd appears in the press.

1966  F.W. Williams made losses from Beutron and other holdings. The name Beutron Plastics Australia Ltd appears in the press.

1968  Pioneer Concrete took over over F.W.Williams. They then owned 50 percent of Beutron (Aust) Ltd.  Marshall Ney was still a director, and his son David Marshall Ney (1927-2018)  General Manager.

David Ney in 1956, then 19 years old. He died in 2018, aged 81.

1969 Pioneer Concrete sold its interest in Beutron “for a substantial cash profit’.


Late 1960s – 1970s

Note that on some of these cards the name Beutron appears in cursive script, and some use block letters. The latter date from July 1970, the former 1968-1970.


24ct gold plated! How swish!


Mid 1970s onwards

Beutron cards went through multiple incarnations with only the pricing then the appearance of bar codes to give an approximate dating. Some cards were marked “packed in Australian by Beutron”. Some are marked made in Thailand.

 In 2001 J. Leutenegger (a large craft firm that was started in 1891 in Brisbane by a Swiss immigrant, Jacques Leutenegger) acquired Beutron, now a proprietary company.


Plain 9 x 5.5 cm card; price 75 cents

Plain 8 x 4.5 cm card; price 95 cents and above










JHB released the Peter Rabbit series of buttons under license in 1977 to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the publishing of the first of Beatrix Potter”s books in 1902. Hunca Munca and Jemima Puddle Duck were two of these. The other two were Peter Rabbit and Miss Moppet. JHB went to the effort source a company (in Japan) capable of faithfully reproduce the effect of the original water colours. Over the next 11 years, more were released. Beutron must have sold these buttons under licence from JHB.


Plain 8 x 5 cm card with indented edges; price $1.00

These were both Beauclaire designs from the 1950s.

Small 8 x 4.5 cm card with gold top, rounded corners ; prices $1.65-2.10

Small 8 x 4.5 cm card with gold edging;  bar code on back/no price

Plain cards 9 x 6sm with rounded corners, bar code on back; prices $2.45-3.35


Department/Variety stores

Beutron packaged and/or made buttons for other companies/stores such as these: Kmart,  Target and Butterick, probably from post 1967, as there are no dual prices.

The styles of the buckles are seen on Beauclaire and Beutron cards.

On the back of the Butterick cards.

Originally a 1950s Beauclaire (Tiny Tots) design, it has been reused many times over the following decades.

The back of the Needleworks cards show that these cards were sold through Myers/Grace Bros.

Obscured by the top button, this card is labelled ‘Notions of Australia’. The design was originally a Beauclaire example.




From ads 1956-7.


Sample Cards, Display and Packaging


Tailor’s box of Tecpearl shirt buttons


Marion’s refill pack.

A handy box for tailors:

Counter top display drawer.

The drawers below belong to Marian.



Display Cards 1960s


Display Cards 1970s

Card/Catalogue 1980s

For the individual pages of this folder, see  http://www.austbuttonhistory.com/uncategorized/16th-august-2020/

Catalogue 1990s

For close ups of the pages see http://www.austbuttonhistory.com/uncategorized/7th-august-2020/


From South Africa



The ‘Beutron’ button is modern in the feel of its plastic (not casein; maybe nylon?) and the moulding marks. Interestingly, the shank it not typical of Beutron buttons. It has the shape typical of Beauclaire buttons. Perhaps this dates the button to the period of the merger, 1957-1963?