G. J. Coles/ Embassy brand: 1929-1994

G. J. Coles

George James (G. J.) Coles opened his first variety store in September 1914 in Collingwood, Melbourne.  During the 1920’s more stores were opened.

Embassy brand

In 1929 the ‘Embassy’ brand was launched, initially for gramophone records, but over the years extending to hundreds of products. The brand was discontinued in 1994.  See  https://www.coles.com.au/about-coles/centenary  At some stage in the 1980s until around 1994 Coles sold cards of buttons under the name ‘Haby Habits”. These, like the Embassy buttons, were labelled as being made in Australia. Over the years various logos were used.  You’ll notice the changes in the examples to follow. The buttons were supplied by General Plastics initially, then G.Herring after the merger.

This re-order card shows that Embassy branded buttons were supplied by General Plastics up until the merger with G. Herring.



Note that although this logo was used from 1947, the cards of buttons probably date from a couple of years later.


Most of the cards had the brand name printed upon it, but some imported glass examples were simply labelled ‘Fashion Buttons’.

These glass buttons are marked West Germany, and the clear, Czechoslovakia.









The similarity between the below card’s printing makes it likely that American firm B. Swanda Inc. provided these cards for Coles.



1959 – early 1960s







The first cards featuring the map of Australia had rounded corners and no prices printed upon them.







The card on the right is a hybrid between the previous Embassy cards with rounded corners, and those to follow with squared corners and the G. Herring’s gimmick added cotton. This would date after the 1957 when the companies started to merge.

Early-mid 1960s

Prices are printed onto the cards. Corners are square. G. Herring “added cotton”.

Some of the styles below also appear on Leda and Kencrest cards, indicating that they too were supplied by G. Herring/Beutron.

Brown, grey and black.

The famous ducks.


Dual pricing (imperial/decimal) printed on the cards. The buttons are stapled instead of sewn onto the cards. Thankfully, this was a short lived trend as the staples get rusty, and can scratch!


1967- June 1970

From October 1967 dual pricing was no longer required.

Similar buttons with dual pricing (1966-67) and decimal only (from October 1967).

July 1970-1980s

A new logo was introduced.










Character printed on ‘water-white’ plastic

JHB made similar ‘Beatrix Potter’ buttons printed onto urea plastic, so perhaps these are urea. They might otherwise be cellulose actetate.


Figural Buttons:

These were originally Beauclaire “Tiny Tots” designs from the 1950s.


New Finds:












Early 1970s

These date around 1969 when dual imperial/decimal pricing was no longer mandated.

Faux leather.



Haby Habits: 1980s-1994

Both Embassy and Haby Habit branding were discontinued in 1994.

These three designs all hark back to the 1950s, even 1940s.