Author Archives: admin

31st January 2023

B. Schwanda & Sons Inc.

Benedict Schwanda started making buttons in Czechoslavakia in 1882. He emmigrated with his family and two button mechanics to the States in 1892, with a couple of lathes. By 1894 they were producing beautifully carved ocean pearl buttons in New York City. The two sons, then later his grandsons, followed into the business. Manufacturing plants were built in New York, Connecticut (in 1916) and Maryland (from 1933-6) also a warehouse in Long Island.

In the first decade of the 20th century they increased the range of buttons imported from Europe, sold under the trade name of ‘Buttons by Schwanda’, including casein, rhinestones, corozo, horn, leather, glass and crystal.

Cards of buttons were sold to department, variety and what Australians call haberdashery stores. They imported buttons from the “USA zone – West Germany” after WW2. Sadly, in 1968 the firm was liquidated.

Apart from the notable exception of Grant Featherston (and possibly some ‘studio button’ concerns), no glass button industry existed in Australia. Buttons sold by G. Herring and General Plastics were imported. So far I have only deduced that glass buttons were imported  through Schwanda and Blumenthal. Notice the similarilties between the printing on Schwanda and Embassy branded cards.

See also http://www.austbuttonhistory.com/2nd-september-2020/

http://www.austbuttonhistory.com/16th-november-2021/

Reference: The Collector’s Encyclopedia of Buttons, by Sally C. Luscomb

For any comments or questions, please use the Contact page.

30th January 2023

Found in Trove

A giddy description of the delights of haberdashery, especially the new “zipp fastener”.

The Australasian (Melbourne), 6th July 1929 page 17. 

The first such fasteners sold in Australia around 1916, but they were still a relatively novel thing in 1929, as this article shows. See also http://www.austbuttonhistory.com/23rd-may-2022/

Table Talk (Melbourne), 2nd September 1937 page 32.

The Age (Melbourne), 10th June 1939 page 20.

For any question or comment, please use the Contact page.

29th January 2023

“Volunteer Military Forces c.1870”

This lovely photo is from the State Library of South Australia Collection.

B 13237 by B. Goode & Co., c.1870.

Bernard Goode, photographer called his business “B. Goode & Co” from 1868 until 1874. He sold his photography studio in Rundle Street in 1874 and moved to NSW. The business was taken by W.A. Francis , who ran the studio until 1881.

However, a description of new volunteer artillery uniforms from 1877 describes the shakos (hats) as well as the broad red stripes on the trousers:

Evening Journal (Adelaide), 13th September 1877 page 3.

I wonder whether this is actually a photo of one of the two volunteer artillery units, the Port Adelaide Volunteer Artillery (B Battery), in their new uniforms, c.1878. The photos could have been printed onto old card stock marked “B. Goode & Co”. If so, the buttons would have been the generic artillery design, see: http://www.austbuttonhistory.com/25th-november-2022/ The Adelaide Artillery (A Battery) Officers of 1877 had a similar uniform, excepting the shoulder belt, trouser strip and belts were ?white or light coloured, see below:

State Library SA; photo B7211. 1877.

For any comment or question, please use the Contact form.

28th January 2023

A Mystery Solved and a new Mystery?

Bother: I posted this a day early!

I have a partial card of buttons from New Zealand:

 

The card has the same artwork as for Beauclaire buttons in the early 1950s, and a style of button also sold on Beauclaire cards. Another example recently came up for sale.

This button style was also made by G.P.  At least the branding is now clear. In Trove there were a couple of references to clothing made by “Ryders” in 1950-1, which is the right era. General Plastics must have carded these buttons for a clothing manufacturer.

The term “Bonnie Buttons” has me confused. I thought they were a G.Herring branding (see http://www.austbuttonhistory.com/australian-button-history/federation-to-ww2/g-herring-beutron/#G_Herring_Australia_Pty_Ltd_1939-1949 ), but perhaps they were actually made by General Plastics? However, the font type used is different.

Does any other collector have some “Bonnie Buttons” made in Australia or New Zealand?

For any comment or query, please use the Contact page.

 

27th January 2023

D. C. Quinn

These cards came up for sale recently. The images are used with permission.

The words “Manufactured by D.C. ” can be seen under the green buttons. I have not seen this name on cards of buttons before, although I was aware of the firm.

http://www.austbuttonhistory.com/australian-button-history/ww2-and-onwards-including-leather-buttons-and-obscure-companies/cygnet-delphi-e-walker-son-pty-ltd/#D_C_Quinn_Pty_Ltd

The font used is the same as found  on their ‘Delphi’ and ‘Walker’ branded cards.

Has anyone own any “Buttons of Distinction” by D.C. Quinn they are willing to share images of?

For any comments or queries, please use the Contact page.

 

26th January 2023

New Find

NSW Corps of Commissionaires

This example has the backmark of  A. J. Parkes, Brisbane, unlike Carol’s unmarked version.

The button has the 2 “air holes” on the back, dating from approx 1953 onwards.

http://www.austbuttonhistory.com/25th-august-2020/

The Sun (Sydney), 27th May 1945 page 3.

The Advertiser (Adelaide), 1st October 1948 page 2.

Although the Corps of Commissionaires (N.S.W.) was wound up in 1974, a Federal Association still exists. http://www.thecorps.com.au/

For any comment or question, please use the Contact page.

25th January 2023

Buttons & Sundries

I recently purchased a book of the above title, written by Vittoria de Buzzaccarini and Isabella Zotti Minici in 1990. It has been translated from Italian, which leads to odd sentences at times, but also gives a differing perspective to the intersecting histories of fashion and buttons. As a result, I have been able to add a bit of history under ‘Italy’ on the Wide World of Button Manufacturers page. http://www.austbuttonhistory.com/its-un-australian/the-wide-world-of-manufacturers/#ITALY

The authors also mentioned a couple of button museums/collections that sound wonderful.

Rothschild Collection, Buckinghamshire, England.

Adelheid, Baroness Edmond de Rothschild (1853-1935) and her husband were great collectors. The collections were bequeathed to the children.One of these, James,  bequeathed Waddesdon Manor to the National Trust in 1957 where there are held a number of collections relating to costume.

https://www.rothschildarchive.org/family/family_collections/buttons

The Button Museum, Santarcangelo, Romagna, Italy.

Opened in 2008, it contains a collection of 14,000 buttons from the 17th century onwards.

https://www.santarcangelodiromagna.info/en/museo-del-bottone-15/

https://www.italybyevents.com/en/events/emilia-romagna/button-museum-santarcangelo-di-romagna/

German Button Museum, Bärnau. https://us.dill-buttons.com/knopfstadt-baernau

 

There are, or have been, button displays at these museums also, although I could not directly access the collections to confirm these:

Musée Carnavalet, Paris: French Revolution buttons: https://www.carnavalet.paris.fr/musee-carnavalet

Musee Ile de France, St. jean-Cap Ferrat also at the Musee de Normandie in Caen, Louis XV buttons: https://www.placesinfrance.com/musee_ile_de_france.html https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Normandy_Museum

Cooperhewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, New York. https://www.carnavalet.paris.fr/musee-carnavalet

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. Holds the Luckock Collection of buttons https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Luckcock

Fashion Museum, Bath. Apparently now moving to new buildings. https://www.fashionmuseum.co.uk/

Royal Museums of Art and History, Brussels, Belgium. French and English buttons. https://www.fashionmuseum.co.uk/

Museum of Costume and fashion, Florence. Interesting buttons on the costumes. https://www.uffizi.it/en/pitti-palace/costume-and-fashion-museum

Museum of Palazzo Mocengio, Venice Italy. https://mocenigo.visitmuve.it/en/home/

 

These button shops were mentioned as worth a visit. Unfortunately, ‘Tender Buttons’, New York, closed in 2019.

The Button Queen,UK.

This store has been selling collectable buttons since 1950, particularly Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles. They were located in London, but are mainly online now.

https://www.thebuttonqueen.co.uk/about/

Tender Buttons, New York.

Opened in 1965 by Diana Epstein, joined by Millicent Safro. A tiny treasure trove, sadly gone.

https://theshopkeepers.com/tender-buttons/

La Drouguerie, Paris.

A popular store since 1975 for discerning shoppers of fabrics and haberdashery. be prepared for a long wait to be individually served.

https://www.timeout.com/paris/en/shopping/la-droguerie

https://www.textiletoursofparis.com/blog/la-droguerie-a-universe-bursting-with-delicious-temptation

Vintage Delirium, Milan.

Established in 1985, Franco Jacassi’s boutique is a cross between a museum and a boutique of vintage fashion. His favourite types include “material buttons of coloured silk interwoven with gold thread, and those of opalescent coloured glass paste and hand painted, which were produced in Czechoslovakia and ermany during the Twenties”, also the “industrial plastic of the Fifties – the Italian button par excellence “.

https://blog.bonbrand.com/in-milan-a-fashion-hoarder-is-a-designers-best-kept-secret/#.Y8u86B1S924

https://vintagedelirium.shop/

For any comment or question, please use the Contact page.

24th January 2023

WRANS

This article written on the retirement of Captain Joan Streeter provides a good history of women serving in the Navy. It was published in the Royal Australian Navy News, 27th April 1973 page 3.

Captain Streeter pioneered the return of women after marriage into the WRANS in 1968, reducing the entry age of recruits from 18 to 17 years. Unlike the WRAAC and the Women’s Air Training Corps, the WRANS did not have a distinct button design, just the RAN design.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Age (Melbourne), 7th December 1950 page 5.

See http://www.austbuttonhistory.com/14th-september-2020/

For any comment or query, please use the Contact page.

23rd January 2023

New Finds

It has been slim pickings for me lately, but at last here are some new buttons for my collection.

University of Sydney

Backmark: Stokes & Sons Melbourne

Unlike my other example, this one is a flat 2-piece button (face and shank), not a 3-piece (face, back and shank). It dates before 1963.

Valley Horn

Tamrookum is an inland region  (pop. 91 in 2016) in Queensland.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the back of the card is printed:

” Horn with its beautiful texture and colour has been used for centuries to produce essential household items such as combs, drinking vessels, buttons, spoons – the list is endless.

 In our Tamrookum Valley workshop we manufacture this traditional range as well as items with a  Australian character.

To maintain the beauty and polish of natural horn, wash only in warm water without detergent.”

Tasmanian Bush Buttons

These were sold by Touchwood (a craft outlet, accommodation and cafe) in Stanley, Tasmania (125 km west of Devonport), of “horizontal scrub”. This is the common name of Anodopetalum biglandulosum, which is, according to Wikipedia, “known as horizontal scrub due to the habit of its slender trunk (primary shoot) bending down horizontally under its own weight. This fallen stem sends vertical branches up its length (secondary shoots), which in turn bend down and branches arise (tertiary shoots), forming an impenetrable horizontal scrub.”

For any comment or query, please use the Contact page.

22nd January 2023

Design Problems from the Army.

The Canberra Times. I am not sure if these are buttons are being referred to, but many collectors will be aware the coating on some “Staybrite” anodised uniform buttons did not wear well.

 

Army newspaper, 21st April 1983 page 11.

See https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/REL33211

The term “housewife” dates back to the second half of the nineteenth century, when soldiers were issued with a pouch containing spare buttons, cotton, etc. The term is now considered as being sexist.