Branded buttons

Buttons inscribed with the name of tailoring firms, department stores and companies are sometimes overlooked but really interesting. In Australia they are found commonly by metal detectors in old gold-rush areas and whilst of historical interest, they are rarely valuable. Many are made of vegetable ivory (Tagua Nut), horn or metal, although they also have been made of  horn, rubber, wood and composition. In the book  ‘The Importance of British Material Culture to Historical Archeologies of the Nineteenth Century’ edited by Alasdair Brooks it states that “Birmingham button makers stamped buttons for local tailors, outfitters, and department stores.”

This button was unearthed from a mass grave at Pheasant Woods (Fromelles):

From Queensland RSL News Edition 3, 2016 page 29. Button found in mass grave at Pheasant Wood (Fromelles) during a dig in 2009. It is referred to as a braces button, used by soldiers to keep their trousers up.

The photo below from the Australian War Memorial’s collection clearly shows the braces buttons on this WW1 era soldier’s breeches.

For a good and affordable resource on these buttons see:

‘Dome Make’ (part of the Buttons Limited group from 1907) trouser buttons. Detail shows the differing engraving or embossing available.

A Sydney Post Office directory from 1886-7 listed British firms importing into Australia. Such firms would have been the source of many uniform and military buttons used here, but marked with the Australian uniform makers name.

After federation, only Firmin continued to advertise.

Wise’s NSW post office directory. 1921.

The article below explains that these buttons also came from Italy.

Published in the News (Adelaide), 17th August 1940 page 3.

Metal trouser/braces buttons may date from the late 18th century onwards. They often bear generic slogans such as ‘Our Own Make’, ‘Best Ring Edge’, ‘Excelsior’, etc.

Please note that these trouser buttons are also found overseas. They  came from button manufacturing centres such as Birmingham. Note also the same generic terms may have been used in more than one era and by more than one maker. These buttons are not valuable, but they are certainly interesting!

There are a few cards of Australian made trouser buttons:

The card on the right has German made buttons. They are of better quality!Some British Trouser Buttons


From Trove ( archived Australian newspapers etc):

It is often claimed online that ‘Best Ring Edge‘ buttons date from late 19th to early 20th century, and this was backed up by a newspaper story in Trove dated 1897 of a child wearing these buttons. “Monster Cards” of 12 or 24 double ring edge brace/trouser buttons were advertised in Australia from 1905-1924.

Some of these cards are printed with ‘Made in England’.

‘Excelsior’ trouser buttons were advertised in Australia circa 1893- 1896.

‘Double Ring Edge’ are mentioned  in 1866. They are found on trousers in a museum from the late 19th century.

‘Our Own Make’ buttons are mentioned from 1892 through to 1930s.

“Best Solid Eyelet” buttons are found on a  1890s uniform, as are “Four Holes Improved”.

For Gentlemen

Advance Australia

Tailor Made

Best Ring Edge












Solid Ring Edge

“Ask For Crowns”. Crowns were  a brand of English made moleskin trousers sold in Australia from 1867-1910.

“Wear Only Elephant Moles”.

Tailors’ buttons link us to a time past, when cheap, imported, ready -to-wear clothes weren’t an option. A time when you made your own, or went to a tailor. The tailor’s would pay to have their name inscribed, printed or embossed onto the buttons as a form of advertising, and a mark of pride in their work. The good thing about these buttons is that researching the names allows us to date these buttons, and make an historical journey into past lives and times. Sorry to disappoint metal-detectorists, though, whilst collectable, they are not intrinsically valuable. They are just too common and pedestrian.

The back of these two tailor’s buttons are marked with the country of origin, England and Germany:









Enjoy looking through the pages for tailors’, manufacturers’ and department stores’ buttons!

For more about Pants/Trouser buttons read

For a description of their manufacture from 1861 see