20th November 2023

Military Badges: part 3

Here are a few more examples and explanations of designs, including some more recent examples.

Adelaide Observer, 18th August 1900 page 14.

Chronicle (Adelaide), 6th July 1907 page 30. the badges were designed and manufactured by H. D. Dobson of North Adelaide.

Daily Examiner (Grafton, NSW), 15th July 1943 page 1.

The Courier-Mail (Brisbane), 6th March 1951 page 3.

Australian Army, 29th October 1964 page 6.

Australian Army, 27th August 1970 page 1.

Australian Army, 23rd March 1972 page 9.

Australian Army31st May 1973 page 1.

Australian Army, 27th November 1975 page 2.

Australian Army, 15th April 1976 page 5. the Special Air Service regiment started recruiting that year.

Australian Army, 15th April 1976 page 5. the Special Air Service regiment started recruiting that year.

Army, 30th April 1987 page 10.

Army, 16th November 1995 page 1.

Army, 1st December 2005 page 3.

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19th November 2023

Military Badges: part 2.

A series of illustrations of badges of rank were printed in The Age newspaper in February 1940.

5th February 1940 page 11. “Badges of rank worn by Army officers.” Another, clearer illustration of some of these, from the Sunday Times, 1915, of these may be seen directly below.

Sunday Times (Sydney), 27th June 1915 page 1.

6th February 1940 page 4.”the badges in many cases indicate clearly what the duties of the wearer are.” Top row L-R: musketry instructor, physical training instructor, assistant signalling instructor, riding instructor, best swordsman in squadron, best swordsman in troop, best machine-gunner in squadron, light machine-gun marksman.  Middle L-R: 1st prize gunner, 2nd prize gunner, layer R A, range-taker 1st class, 1st prize driver mechanized, driver 1st class, 1st prize driver horse, best shot in battalion.  Bottom L-R: best shot in company, twenty-two best shots in battalion, rifle marksman, drummer, bugler, trumpeter, good conduct badge, Royal Tank Corps badge.

7th February, 1940 page 6.

8th February 1940 page 4.

9th February 1940 page 4.

10th February 1940 page 16.

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18th November 2023

Military Badges: part 1

Uniform buttons and badges were/are often made by the same manufacturers. There is a lot of crossover in terms of history, manufacturer and collectibility. For example, J. K. Cossum, as well as publishing the book ‘Buttons of the Defence Forces in Australia’, also wrote several books about Australian Army badges and cloth insiginia.

Here are some interesting historical images from Pix magazine, 12th January 1952 p2.

From the Army Magazine, 1st March 1991 pages 30 & 31.


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17th November 2023

Named Fashion Buttons

Victoria Hill

Although a small button, it has the name  ‘Victoria Hill’ inscribed twice.

The Victoria Hill brand is part of ‘infashion’, created in 2014, as part of the Direct Group, operating primarily in Australia and New Zealand through online and catalogue sales. It is a British company, with a warehouse/office in Sydney.

Yarra Trail

Established 1984, and based in Richmond, Victoria, they use to advertise menswear in print, but now seem to sell only  women’s wear. The clothing is designed in Melbourne and sold in David Jones, Myers and boutiques throughout Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

The Canberra Times, 1st November 1995 page 11. Advertising of Yarra trail trousers and shorts from Grace Bros.

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16th November 2023

New South Wales Police Pipe Band

Stokes & Sons Melbourne.

I have finally received my own copy of this button. Although the band was approved  by Commissioner William John Mackay in 1946, it is an aluminium button with two ‘air holes’ on the back. This dates them as 1953 onwards, when Stokes introduced the technology into Australia. The crest on the buttons is that of the Mackay clan. Unfortunately, the band was made  redundant in July 1989.

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney), 27th February 1946 page 4.

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney), 7th March 1954 page 53. Although the image quality is poor, 3 shiny buttons can be seen of the sleeve cuff.


15th November 2023

1940s General Plastics Finds

Two different cards, but both using the “vine-leaf” border. This style card appeared in a 1949 advert.

The Argus (Melbourne), 11th June 1949 page 39.Large cards including “famous Beutron Boiling buttons” and second down in the pile, General Plastic buttons with the vine leaf border clearly represented.

Inspired by the WW2 era American influence on fashions.

Undated partial Modern Miss cards. One of many style of cards that preceeded the Beauclaire branding.

This card is a partial card of  Rex C. Norris’s  ‘Jack and Jill’ brand buttons. A complete card I own is printed with ‘Rex Patent display card 24410/49’ which indicated a 1949 dating. however, this duck design was produced by General Plastics (and later G. Herring) which seems to indicate that the design was bought by General Plastics before they appeared in 1953-4 on Beauclaire and Tiny Tot cards.

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14th November 2023

1940s G. Herring Finds

“Made of Beutron. The plastic of the future.” This terminology dates the card to 1947; later, the name Beutron applied to the buttons, not the plastic.

The Australian Women’s Weekly, 9th August 1947 page 45.

These style buttons appeared in 1948-9 advertising.

The Argus (Melbourne), 11th June 1949 page 39. Large cards including “famous Beutron Boiling buttons” and second down in the pile, General Plastic buttons.

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13th November 2023

Rising Sun Badge: Part 2

As well as the official General Service badge, there have been many “sweetheart” badges made  based on the design, including those made of silver, pearl, and resin (WW2 era). There are also reproduction/commemorative versions, including those sold through Army Disposal stores featuring a map of Australia instead of the crown.

Fourth version 1949


Corps and regimental buttons were reintroduced in 1949, having been discontinued, perhaps, “when Japan entered the war”:

Maryborough Chronicle (Qld) 18th October 1949 page 2.

The new version  changed the words in the scroll from “Australian Commonwealth Military Forces” to “Australian Military Forces”.


Fifth Version 1954

The death of the King and Elizabeth’s coronation required a new badge:  the St Edward’s crown replacing the Tudor Crown.

Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate (NSW), 15th July 1954 page 1.

Sixth version 1969

This version, with the Federation Star on a heraldic wreath, was never fully issued. According to Wikipedia, due to stocks of the old badge, it did not need to be produced until the late 1980s.


Seventh Version 1991

This was released to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli.  Due to criticism of the look of the new badge, there were further modifications in 1995 (returning to brass from the aluminium used since 1960s , raising of the crown and arms, and reintroducing the 1914 style piercing).

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12th November 2023

Rising Sun Badge: Part 1

The General Service Badge, later known as the Australian Army badge,  is affectionally called the Rising Sun badge. As the skills needed to make them are like those for unform buttons (die-sinking etc), many well known Australian and overseas uniform button makers were involved: Gaunt, Tiptaft,  Sheridan, Stokes & Sons, KG Luke, Amor, Swan & Hudson, Arendsen, AJ Parkes. However, many examples are unmarked. (NB: in early tenders, the badges seem to be described as Commonwealth badges, not General Service badges.)

There are 7 versions featured on the Army website: https://www.army.gov.au/about-us/history-and-research/traditions/rising-sun-badge

The Inspiration: Not a badge but a trophy

The Bulletin, 16th September 1959 page 52. The official Army story is below.

This trophy had been given to Gen. Hutton by Major Gordon of the South Australian Navy. The original drawing for the trophy by artist Frank Bartels was titled “The Australian Rising Sun”. It had originally been displayed at Fort Glanville, South Australia.

First and Second Patterns: Australian Light Horse

Australian War Museum item # RELAWM14445.002 Unknown maker.

Major-General Hutton asked that the trophy be the inspiration for the badge to be made for troops traveling to South Africa in 1902. (This story is disputed by some. See below*.) This was replaced only a couple of months later by a version that replaced the heraldic wreath with a scroll containing the words “Commonwealth Horse” and ‘Australia’ with ‘Australian’.

Second version used by 1St Australian Commonwealth Horse”, 1902. Warrnambool and District Historical Society. Unknown maker.

* Some claim the badge was designed by Colonel Cox-Taylor, based on the design from his old regiment, the 6th N.S.W. Infantry, and represented “the sun rising over the crown of the Empire on which it never sets.” In the first version (above) there does appear to be sun rays rather than the swords and bayonets used in the later versions. It was noted in 2001 that “there (was) no conclusive evidence as to who designed the badges” or as to the inspiration. 

                                                  The Daily Telegraph (Sydney), 9th August 1924 page 8.

I dispute that there is “no evidence”, and is it not possible that there were more than one inspiration and more than one designer involved?

A news report about General Hutton inspecting troops of the Victorian Contingent on the 3rd February, 1902, noted that he stated the men should have a badge to wear, rather than just the letters “A.C.” for Australian Commonwealth. This confirms he was interested in details such as the design of the badges, even with time tight for the troops were about to leave.

Evening News (Sydney), 6th February 1902 page 2.

Letters exist dated 6-8th February between Hutton and his adjunct, General Hoad, which report a Melbourne based die-sinking firm being asked to submit designs, with Hutton accepting the design and asking it to be hastily made (by the 13th February).

A report dated 22nd February 1902 confirms that Hotton had already designed a new badge.

The Age (Melbourne), 20th February 1902 page 5.

Therefore, the “controversy” regarding Hutton’s involvement, and the “Rising Sun” verses “trophy of arms” inspiration must be put to rest, although it is still possible that others in his staff worked on the design. It must be remembered that this particular trophy was also inspired by the Rising Sun motif. It is not an either/or issue.


The Sydney Morning Herald, 30th June 1923 page 7.

The Melbourne die-sinkers were Stokes and Sons. They made the “distinctive badges”.

Commonwealth of Australia Gazette, 2nd May 1902 page 202. This is part of the supplies for the “Second Commonwealth Contingent for Service in South Africa.” A similar order appeared in the 6th June 1902 gazette.

A special version of the badge was made for troops invited to King Edward’s coronation in 1902.

Australian War Museum #REL/17313.001. Unknown maker.

Third Pattern: Australian Commonwealth Forces.

Army (newspaper), 13th August 1981 page 6, quoting from earlier documents. Gaunt was involved with making an Australian badge, but had not finalised it in 1902, so Stokes & Sons initially supplied them.

In 1903 it was decided to design a badge for the Commonwealth Military Forces. J. R. Gaunt made the badges retaining the Australian Horse design. It was first only worn by staff, and did not come into general use until universal training was instituted in 1911. This design was worn during both world wars.

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11th November 2023

Rising Sun Imagery

Although not exclusive* to the nation of Australia, the Rising Sun imagery has none-the-less become a part of the Australian consciousness. Its use preceeded federation, as it was adopted by those hoping for a united and prosperous nation to emerge from the separate colonies.

By 1821 there was a Rising Sun Hotel in Sydney. There were similarly named hotels, clubs, even gold mines, throughout the colonies. At a concert in Sydney during 1826 there was displayed a painting including “the real or assumed” arms of Australia, possibly similar to that below.

State Library NSW, Mitchell Library. possibly 1821. The artist is unknown.

The term was used in poetic odes to the country. It was used on trade tokens during the 1850s.

The Australian (Sydney), 22nd July 1826 page 3.

Museums Victoria 1858. Item #NU 4564.

*The Imperial Japanese army adopted a Rising Sun Flag in 1870, although it had origins dating from the 6-7th centuries. Various companies, such as P & O, included it the their heraldry: http://www.austbuttonhistory.com/10th-june-2022/

After federation it became a popular architectural motif, symbolising the optimisim of the new nation. Hoadley’s even made a “Rising Sun” jam!

Punch (Melbourne), 5th October 1911 page 31. Children in dress-up representing Hoadley’s Rising Sun jam.

In 1907 it became part of the NSW coat of arms.

Evening Journal (Adelaide), 2nd March 1907 page 4.

The “Rising Sun” shoulder and hat badges were first used in 1902 during the Boer War, and were afterwards adapted for the new Australian Military Forces from 1903-4. (see tommorow’s post). The motive also formed part of regimental badges, both official and unofficial, and various war service badges. During WW1 a ‘Rising Sun’ newspaper was produced by the Australian Army to entertain men of the A.I.F. during 1916-1917.

Tweed Daily (Qld), 13th August 1940 page 4.

Unofficial badge of the Camel Corps. WW1.

Pix magazine: 12th January 1952 p2 .

Bendigo Military Museum. 29th battalion badge, post 1945. https://victoriancollections.net.au/items/582ba1cfd0cdd1275464f7d5








Australian War Museum: Machine Gun Corps sweetheart brooch, WW2.

From Wikipedia. various schools made individualised Rising Sun cadet badges.

14th ALH regiment badge: thanks to diggerhistory (http://www.diggerhistory.info/pages-badges/light-horse.htm)









Australian War Museum. Australian Tank Corps badge1930s.

For the 27th Battalion (South Australian Scottish regiment): https://www.militaria-sales.com.au/product/27th-battalion-south-australian-scottish-regiment-white-metal-hat-badge-1930-to-1942/

For further information: