Companies: including Airlines, Banks, Mercantile Marine

Table of Contents


Adelaide Airways Ltd.

This company was registered in 1935 by the Adelaide Steamship Company, with the first flight occurring on 29th October that year. It operated services between Adelaide, Port Lincoln, Kangaroo Island and Melbourne. In February 1936 they bought the small firm of South Australian Airways Limited (incorporated in 1933), then in May merged with Holyman Airways  to form Australian National Airways (A.N.A.). However, they  continued to operate under their own name until November, by which time they had bought West Australian Airways Limited.

National Library of Australia #4926567. Three Adelaide Airways pilots on 29 April 1936.

This close up shows the company logo on the cloth badge. The buttons appear to be plain white metal. I have a similar button backmarked ‘Wiseman Bros Melbourne’. (I am not claiming this is the same button).

Wiseman Bros were warehousemen in Melbourne, and imported goods for local tailors. See

Western Mail (Perth), 19th November 1936 page 1.

Library SA #7278. 1935: Two of the company’s planes. On the left, a Short Scion, on the right a Monospar.



Ansett Airways P/L

See also the entry below for Ansett -ANA buttons under the Australian National Airways entry.

Stokes & Sons Melbourne.

Stokes & Sons Melbourne . Ansett Roadways. From the VBCC magazine, August 2009








?1960s design

1968-1981.One piece with flat back and convex top, no backmark. Cheap finish.



Reg Ansett started Ansett Roadways with one car in December 1931. In 1935 he set up Ansett Airways.

From The Reg Ansett Transport Museum’s collection, with thanks.

Reg Ansett registered ‘Ansett Airways’ in January 1936 . From a single Fokker airplane the business grew. The logo of a double A (for Ansett Airways) with a pair of wings dates from around 1946 through to the takeover of ANA in 1957. ANA was sold to Ansett in 1957 forming Ansett-ANA, which was renamed Ansett Airlines of Australia in 1968.

State Library SA. The company’s logo can been seen on the open door, with the map of Australia under ‘AA’ flanked by wings. 1953.


Australian Airlines

See also under entry for TAA and Qantas.


Australian National Airways

See also

Stokes & Sons Melbourne.

Stokes & Sons Melbourne. 1953-7 (Staybrite dates from 1953)







Clare McHugh Douglas c.1947. The buttons on her uniform are the version with the A.N.A. letters

A.N.A was registered in 1936 from the joining of Holyman’s and Adelaide Airways. It soon absorbed West Australian Airways. In 1937 it obtained a controlling interest in Airlines of Australia (AOA). The company’s DC-3 aircraft were requisitioned by the Government during the war and it provided services around Australia for the war effort, including for American forces. After the war it faced competition from Trans Australian Airways (TAA), the state run airline that would ultimately lead to the company’s decline. It was floated as a public company in 1949. ANA was sold to Ansett in 1957 forming Ansett-ANA, which was renamed Ansett Airlines of Australia in 1968.

?Ansett-ANA era.

The buttons retained the same basic design, but dropped the lettering. This design may have pre-dated the merger.

Unmarked. An identical button is in the Ansett museum as worn by an Ansett air hostess.

Stokes Vic









British Commonwealth Pacific Airways

Stokes & Sons Melbourne

The British Commonwealth Pacific Airways was initiated in 1946. At first it chartered flights from A.N.A.,  the inaugural flight taking off from Laverton on 15th September 1946.

The Sun (Sydney), 25th September 1946 page 3.

Mornington Bulletin (Qld), 19th February 1949 page 1.

It flew from Sydney to San Francisco across the Pacific Ocean from 1949-1953. (Note the airline was erroneously called British Canadian Pacific Airways in some newspapers.) A tragic crash occurred in 1953.

Northern Star (NSW), 31st October 1953 page 1.

B.C.P.C.  was owned in partnership between the Australian, British and New Zealand  governments.  In 1954 the ownership was re-organised and  it was merged with Qantas Empire Airways.

The Daily Telegraph (Brisbane), 16th April 1954 page 6.


Chartair Australiasia Pty Ltd.

backmark: Firmin London

Based in the Northern Territory from 1974 as Leach Aero Services, and still in operation. It may have changed its name in 1977. It has bases in Darwin, Alice Springs, and Katherine. It is now part of a larger group of aviation companies. It offers both scheduled and charter flights, as well as servicing FOFO customers. They carry mail, freight and passengers with subsidy from Federal Government Remote Air Services. See


Compass Airlines

No maker’s mark. 1990-92.

Compass Airline was an attempt from December 1990 by Bryan Grey (former owner regional  East-West airline) to challenge the Australian government’s “two airline” domestic air traffic policy. Due to lack of government support, finance and price cutting by its competitors, it failed a year later. A “Compass Mark II” under completely different ownership (Southern Cross Airlines) was operated from 31st August until 4th March 1992.

The Canberra Times, 13th October 1989 page 5.

The Canberra Times, 5th March 1993 page 1.


Guinea Airways Ltd.

Stokes & Sons

Guinea Airways was formed on 4th November 1927 as delivering freight was difficult and slow by land in New Guinea. They were pioneers in the area of commercial air freight.

News (Adelaide), 5th November 1927 page 3.

State Library SA image #B71534/1. Lae airport c.1932

In 1937 they started a weekly service between Adelaide and Darwin, extending into regional South Australia. In 1942 the company’s headquarters in Lae were bombed with the loss of most of their aircraft. Government legislation prevented their return to New Guinea after the war. Their profitable Adelaide-Darwin route was awarded to TAA. GAL became a junior partner to ANA then in 1959 was taken over by Ansett. The airline became Airlines of South Australia on 17th January 1960.


News (Adelaide), 6th June 1938 page 4.


Holyman Airways P/L.

See also the entry for Australian National Airways.

Tony’s Button: ?Stokes

The Holymans were a shipping family in Tasmania. Victor Holyman flew with the British Royal Naval Air Service and Royal Air Force during WW1. It was because of him that the family branched out into flying. In September 1932 Holyman Bros, Pty. Ltd. commenced services between Launceston and Flinders Island in their new  De Haviland Fox Moth 4-seater plane, ‘Miss Currie’.  They almost immediately merged with Mr Laurie M. Johnson, who had pioneered a similar service in his Desoutter monoplane, ‘Miss Flinders’. In October they formed a new company, Tasmanian Aerial Services Pty. Ltd. Routes soon included Smithton, King Island, and by  September 1933, Melbourne.

The Mercury, 4th October 1932 page 5.


Examiner(Launceston) 7th October 1933 page 9. His Desoutter monoplane was named ‘Miss Flinders’.


Examiner, 29th September 1934 page 9.

Examiner, 20th April 1934 page 7.

The Mercury, 14th May 1936 page 3. Ivan Nello Holyman












The Holymans bought out Laurie Johnson and launched a new airline, Holyman Airways Pty. Ltd. on 1st October 1934. Sadly, Victor and ten others were lost in a flight over Bass Strait on 19th October 1934. His brother Ivan took lead of the airline. Their brother Dare Holyman was also in the airline.

The first air hostesses in Australia were introduced by Holyman’s Airways in March 1936.  “They will probably wear the Holyman Airways uniform, which is navy blue with brass buttons and white cap.” (The Argus, 12th March 1936 page 3). Victor’s widow Hazel was in charge of their training for many years. In May , Holyman’s and Adelaide Airways were merged to form a new company, Australian National Airways Pty. Ltd.  West Australian Airways was sold to Adelaide Airways in July  and so also became part of the new airline. A.N.A. formally began operation on the 1st August. This name recalled the pioneering Bass Strait service of the same name run by Kingsford-Smith and Ulm in 1931, which ran for 6 months only.

In 1939 the 17 year old nephew of Ivan, Maxwell Holyman, was granted his commercial pilot’s licence, and also joined A.N.A. The airline gained a controlling interest in ‘Airlines of Australia’ in 1937 which extended the company’s reach into Queensland, although A.O.A. maintained a public identity until 1942.


Qantas Empire Airways/Qantas Airways Ltd.

Qantas had its inception in 1920 as a regional service. I am not sure that they had an official uniform until the formation of Qantas Empire Airways Limited (QEA) in 1934, a merged service with British Airways. Despite nationalisation in 1947, it retained this name until 1967, when it became Qantas Airways. From 1993 the airline was re-privatised.

Stokes & Sons Melboure

Stokes & Sons Melboure

A. J. Parkes Brisbane

National Library image #40511083. 1945.
















Pre 1968, with the QEA buttons.


In 1944 the (non-flying) kangaroo logo was first introduced. In 1947 this changed to a blue ‘flying kangaroo’. In 1968 the flying kangaroo turned red. This logo lasted until 1984 when the wings were dropped.

Please let me know if any of these buttons are wrongly identified:

1968-84 pilot’s button


1974-87 Flight director uniform.

The buttons below have no backmarks, and may have been made in China, as the uniforms were.

1989-1994 corporate wear

                                               Black plastic: 2003-7







1993-2003 all contact staff

2003-7 Pilot’s button

 2007 Crew button. The logo was been revised.















For more photos, see


Trans Australia Airways

The post WW2 Labour Government formed a government owned interstate airline. It was meant to be a monopoly, but this was successfully challenged in a High Court appeal by existing airways.  The first official flight of Trans Australian Airways was on 9th September, 1946.  See the Government uniforms page:

In 1986 it was renamed Australian Airlines and merged with Qantas in September 1992, as Qantas’s domestic service.

Metalised plastic. No backmark. 1986-1992. From the period when T.A.A. was re-badged as Australian Airlines.


Virgin Australia

The button can be seen on the jacket.

Under the name ‘Virgin Blue’, this airline started in 2000, co-founded by Richard Branson and Brett Godfrey. The brand was changed to Virgin Australia in 2011; this is when the new uniforms including this button were introduced. Financial troubles plus the effects of Covid-19 led to the company entering voluntary administration in 2020, followed by a change of ownership to Bain Capital.




No makers mark.

In 1913 Amalgamated Wireless Australasia Limited was formed from the previous Australasian Wireless Limited (AWL) which had started in 1909. They were an electronics and broadcasting company located in Sydney. In 1918 the first radio broadcast from the UK to Australia was received by AWA of Prime Minister Billy Hughes praising the troops he was inspecting at the Western Front. In 1930 the first newsreel from Sydney to London was transmitted.

Northern Star (Lismore), 12th October 1954 page 9. The head office of A.W.A. completed in 1939.

From Wikipedia.


Australia New Zealand Banking Group

1970-1988 logo

Possible mid-1980s.









ANZ was formed in 1951 from the merger of the Bank of Australasia (founded 1835) and the Union Bank of Australia Limited (founded 1837).

The  official ANZ coat of arms has the motto ‘Tenax Propositi’ or ‘Tenacious of Purpose’ in the banner. It was granted in 1960. The official supporters are an Antelope and Unicorn, but the kangaroo and kiwi (see below) are nice.

From Twitter: the embroidered pocket of an ANZ blazer.

State Library WA #47850564. Model wearing ANZ uniform 1958.


Australian Mutual Provident Society

No backmark

The Australian Mutual Provident Society was established in 1849 as a life-insurance company and mutual society. It became a public company in 1998, AMP Limited, and merged with AXA in 2011. Unfortunately, the  2018 Royal Commission saw the company’s reputation and market value tarnished.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 2st December 1848 page 1.

The Sydney Mail and NSW Advertiser, 28th February 1885 page 438. Many grand old AMP buildings around the country are now heritage listed.

The Sydney Mail and NSW Advertiser, 21st March 1885 page 606.


Bank of Australasia

According to this backmark dates c.1880-1910.

This bank was incorporated  in London by Royal charter in March 1834. It opened the first branch in Sydney on the 14th December 1835. Further branches were opened in Hobart, Launceston, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth over the next 6 years.

Colonial Times (Hobart), 19th July 1836 page 4. The bank is mentioned in a report about currency shortages in the colony.

The Sydney Monitor and Commercial Advertiser, 26th August 1839 page 2.

It expanded throughout Victoria during the gold rush years, then in 1863 to New Zealand. In 1951 it merged with the Union Bank of Australia to form the Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) Bank on 1st October.

The Evening Advocate (Innisfail, Qld), 2ns October 1951 page 5.

National Library Photo #3987001, dated c.1876

Libraries of Tasmania photo LPIC147/6/344. Branch in Brisbane St., Launceston, Tasmania. 1890.

Weekly Times (Melbourne), 29th December 1934 page 31. The branch in Strathmerton, Victoria


Bank of New South Wales

Backmark Firmin London.

 This was the first bank in Australia, established in Sydney in 1817.

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney), 12th March 1910 page 15. Head Office from 1817-1822.

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney), 12th March 1910 page 15. The bank in 1910.

It opened branches around Australia and New Zealand in the 19th century, then expanded into Oceania in the 20th century.

State Library Qld Libraries Australia ID 66949379.
Staff of Bank of NSW, Brisbane, 1903.

I am not sure when the above button dates from. I have not found mention of uniforms for men until 1982. Men seem to have worn  suits to work. The first female uniforms were called ‘overalls’, but were more like dress coats. In 1934  brown dresses with yellow stripes on collar, cuffs and pockets were introduced. By 1956 the striped had disappeared.

From Westpac archives: c.1936.

The Australian Women’s Weekly, 27th June 1956 page 33. The ‘girls’ get a new uniform at the Bank of New South Wales in 1956. The old brown version is on the left. The new was ‘slate-blue”.

Coffs Harbour Museum: Staff at Bank of New South Wales, Coffs Harbour 1956-62. It seem the men still did not have uniforms. Perhaps the uniform buttons are on the dresses?

In 1960 new female bank workers got taught deportment, fashion, etiquette and make-up as well as banking. I wonder if the males did too? No? It was renamed Westpac in 1982. New uniforms were ordered but but slacks were not allowed for women!

Australian Women’s Weekly, 13th October 1982 pages 10 & 11.


Commonwealth Bank of Australia

No backmark. The inner arc protrudes further than the other rings. Tasmania is larger and closer to the arcs.

No backmark








1991-2020  logo. 19mm, gilt finish.

Founded in December 1911 by the Government  with the first branch opening in Melbourne on 15th July 1912. It was the first Australian bank to have a federal guarantee. It was list on the stock exchange in 1991 and fully privatised by 1996.









The first insignia, from 1921 to the 1950s was the Australian Coat of Arms. For a short period during the 1950s  light and dark blue entwined CBA letters were used. In 1960 the bank was formed into the Commonwealth Banking Corporation, with a new logo. The three rings represent the three parts of the corporation; the Savings, Trading and Development banks. The original version included the seven-point star and the words ‘Commonwealth Banking Corporation. The version without the star and wording dates from 1984-1991, then the yellow and black  diamond was introduced.

Sydney: Construction and real Estate Journal (Sydney) 15th June 1932 page 9.

Adelaide: Construction and Real Estate Journal (Sydney) 14th August 1935 page 6.










State Library SA: staff in 1921, Adelaide. Image

The Sun (Sydney), 9th August 1931 page 5.


National  Australia Bank

The NAB was formed from the merger of the National Bank of Australasia and  Commercial Banking Company of Sydney in 1982.


Rural & Industries Bank Uniform Buttons

Established in 1895, the Agricultural Bank of West Australia was a government instrumentality that provided loans to farmers. In 1916, the name was changed to the Rural and Industries Bank of West Australia. It became a full trading bank in 1945, then a saving bank in 1956.

Leader (Melbourne), 24th December 1914 page 49.

The Norseman-Esperance News (WA), 25th October 1956 page 3.

The Bulletin, 14th February 1984 page 9

In 1990 it was incorporated, and in 1994 changed its trading name to Bankwest, with shares floated in 1996.

The Canberra Times, 6th July 1990 page 11.

The Canberra Times, 30th April 1994 page 57.

It was acquired by HBOS (UK banking group) in 2001, which was itself bought out by Lloyds TSB. They sold Bankwest to Commonwealth Bank of Australia in 2008.


State Bank of South Australia

No backmark.

The bank was formed in 1984 by the merger of the State Bank of  South Australia and the Savings Bank of South Australia. After problems with its loan portfolio, the bank collapsed in 1991, with a Royal Commission held into the collapse. A portion of the bank was sold to Advance Bank, which was in turn purchased by St George Bank, then merged with Westpac. That portion is known as BankSA.


St George Bank

St George’s was originally a Building Society formed in 1937. It became a bank in 1992. There have been mergers and acquisitions, notably of BankSA. In 2008 St George and BankSA became subsidiaries of Westpac. In Victoria, St George branches were rebranded as a (relaunched) Bank of Melbourne.


Originally the Bank of New South Wales (from 1817), the bank was rebranded in 1982.



A.J. Parkes Brisbane

The Bus SA is the industry association for the bus and coach operators.



No backmark.









Crown Melbourne Opened in Melbourne’s Southbank in 1997 after operating from a temporary location on the Northbank since 1994. It is a resort with three hotels, a casino, restaurants and entertainment.



Adelaide Steamship Company

According to Wikipedia, it was formed as a cargo and passenger company between Melbourne and Adelaide in 1875. In the 1930-40s it diversified, including the formation of Adelaide Airways in 1935, which was one of the founding airlines that merged to form Australian National Airways (ANA) in 1936. The company was liquidated in 1997.

Backmark: Kitchener ltd Sydney. This is also a spun back and may be identical to the O’Neill button. perhaps made by the same UK firm?


Australasian Steam Navigation Company

Tony Earle’s Button.VBCC magazine August 2018.

The company commenced as the Hunter River Navigation Company in 1839, renaming in 1851. This company merged around 1886 with the Queensland Steam Shipping Company to for the Australasian United Steam Navigation Company Limited.

State Library NSW. archivecatalogue:110318080, Call Number: SPF/837
Australasian Steam Navigation Co. engineering works at Pyrmont, Sydney 1870-1875.


Australasian United Steam Navigation Company

H. F. Axon Brisbane

House Flag: it is depicted on the buttons.







H. F. Axon Brisbane

Kitchener Ltd Sydney







This shipping company was formed in 1887 from the merger of two other companies, and lasted until 1961.

Two articles both from The Mercury (Hobart 9th March 1887 page 2.

In 1940 one of their ships ran aground near Barwon heads during a storm and caught fire. A newspaper reported that ”the bursting of an oil pipe in the Orungal fortuitously spread a calming film of oil over the sea and made it possible to bring the lifeboat alongside to pick up the first load of 17 passengers and 23 seamen.”

Nambour Chronicle and North Coast Advertiser (QLd) 20th December 1940 page 12.


Australian National Line






Both buttons are backmarked Miller Rayner & Haysom Ltd.

This was a coastal shipping line set up by the Government from 1956 until sold in 1998 to a French company.


Australian-Oriental line

Backmarked: Paisley’s Ltd Glasgow.

This  shipping company ran from 1912 until 1961. It provided shipping between Australia, Japan and Hong Kong.

Australian National Maritime Museum #00027438. Watercolour of SS Changsha of the A &O Line.

The Labor Daily (Sydney), 18th November 1932 page 10.

The Telegraph (Brisbane), 3rd May 1939 page 6. Although the details aren’t clear, you can see the uniform buttons.


Australian Steamships Line

The Australian Steamship line was managed by Howard Smith Ltd, (see ) from around January 1913-1938 to cruise Australian coastal waters.

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney), 3rd May 1913 page 15.


Australind Steam Shipping Company

Back mark: ‘greek key’ design around the border.

In October 1904 a new shipping company was registered in London. It’s owners had been operating a twice monthly service from London to Fremantle and Albury since the 1880s in their ship the Australind. They transported emigrants, and were to own five ships by 1912. The company ran until 1981-2.

The Mail (Adelaide), 14th September 1912 page 5. The A.S. Ajana


British Petroleum

Stokes Vic

The company started as the Anglo-Persian Oil Company in the year after oil was found in Persia after a mammoth 7 year seach for oil. British Petroleum was actually a German firm (so named for marketing purposes) whose assets were ceased by the British Government during WW1 and sold to Anglo-Persian, later Anglo-Iranian, in 1917. The company’s name changed again to The British Petroleum Company in 1954.

The Australian Government formed a joint venture with Anglo-Persian Oil to construct our first refinery at Laverton, Victoria in 1924, which sold fuel under the C.O.R. brand BP bought the Commonwealth’s share of the refinery but did not change the branding until 1959.


British Phosphate Commission (BPC)

 Backmarked Pisley’s Ltd Glasgow

This Melbourne based concern managed the extraction and export of phosphate from Nauru from 1920 until 1981. Narua was a mandated territory managed by Australia, New Zealand and Britain after Germany was forced to give up its territorial assets following WW1. However, Narua purchased the assests of BPC in 1967. During WW2 there were Japanese attacks on BPC ships.

National Archives photo #6445958: The Tristar in 1938.

National Archives photo #6423140. The Triona being loaded with phosphate by 2 cantilever cranes.


Broken Hill Propriety (BHP)

Bachmark: M. & S.”  ?Marks and Spencer

B.H.P. chartered vessels from 1915 and owned ships from around 1918. From 1939 it was building ships at its facility at Wyhalla. See

The Newcastle Sun, (NSW), 27th April 1920 page 1.

State Library image H32040


Black Ball Line  (of Australian Packets, Liverpool)

Although not Australian owned, this company was greatly responsible for immigration to Melbourne and to Queensland.

Backmark: L. Williams, Liverpool. I have not been able to find out anything about this backmark.

Museums Victoria collection: “Black Ball” Line ticket, 1862.

Despite a “Black Ball Line” plying a trans-Atlantic trade from 1817, James Baines & Co also named their line of packet ships traveling from Liverpool to Melbourne as the Black Ball Line, which was cheeky to say the least. The ships carried cargo and passengers from 1851 with the ship ‘Marco Polo’, expanding with another four ships during the gold rush.

The Argus (Melbourne), 10th March 1853 page 2.

From 1860, with trade to Melbourne dwindling, they had a monopoly in bringing people to the Queensland colony. At that time they had a fleet of 86 ships. Unfortunately, the ships were often dirty, crowded and poorly ventilated. Many of the ships had to be sold in 1866 due to the firm’s bank failing, but it continued trading using chartered ships until 1871.

The Sydney Mail, 17th January 1934 page 10.


Canadian-Australian Steamship Company

Backmark: Baxter & Hicks London. 1893-1986

Miniature lifebouy souvenir, in the Australian National Maritme Museum.

Australian Town and Country Journal (Sydney), 30th May 1896 page 27.

James Huddart owned two ships which he traded separately from Huddart Parker & Co under the name New Zealand & Australian Steam Navigation Co. from 1892. The name was changed in 1893 to the Canadian Australian Steamship Co to focus on trans-pacific services to Vancouver then on to England. In 1896 it was renamed the Canadian-Australian Royal Mail Steam Ship Company. It was taken over by the New Zealand Shipping company, which in turn was in turn absorbed into Union Steam Ship Company by 1910.


Commonwealth Oil Refinery

Stokes & Sons Melbourne

From Wikipedia:  The Commonwealth Oil Refineries ran between 1920-1952 as a joint venture by the Australian government and the Anglo-Persian Oil company.  Billy Hughes initiated the partnership.  In 1924 the first Australian refinery opened near Laverton.  The Menzies government sold their interest in 1952 to the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company,  which in 1954 become the British Petroleum Company (BP).  The brand COR was continued until 1959.

Queensland Times (Ipswich), 25th August 1920 page 5.

State Library SA: Commonwealth Oil Refinery 1936.

State Library SA 1936

From a vintage road map in our collection.


Eastern & Australian Steam Ship Co (E & A)









Backmark: O’Neill & Co                                                                                       Kitchener Sydney

Originally established in 1873 as the Eastern & Australian Mail Steamship Co. to carry mail between Australia and Asia. When the mail contract was not renewed in 1880, a new company was formed; the Eastern & Australian Steamship Co. Ltd. It was taken over by P&O chairman Lord Inchape in 1918 but continued to run its passenger/cargo liners separately until 1946 when the shares were owned by several P&O subsidiaries. In 1966 it became part of P&O.

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney), 26th July 1919 page 11.

State Library NSW photo collection of Sydney Harbour 1865-1930 File number: FL12037136 File title: 45. [E. & A.S.S. Co. Wharf, Circular Quay]


Howard Smith Limited

W. H. Smith & Sons, backmarked David Jones & Co Sydney

Howard Smith Limited (prob. post 1914)









According to the Australian National Maritime Museum:

“Howard Smith Limited was established in 1854 by Captain William Howard Smith, who began transporting both people and supplies to the goldfields. Originally founded as William Howard Smith and Sons Pty Ltd, the company became Howard Smith Company Ltd in 1901 and in 1914 changed to Howard Smith Limited. The company has interests in distribution of hardware, towage and safety. According to ‘deListed’ website, Howard Smith Limited was delisted from the Australian Stock Exchange on 17 October 2001 because it was taken over (compulsory) by Wesfarmers Retail Pty Ltd.”

For a detailed obituary, see:


Huddart Parker Ltd

Backmark: E. E. Kersey. Sydney c.1900-1909.

Backmark: Gardiner & Compy London

Stokes & Sons Melb, 1911 onwards.

From the Maritime Museum.

Started in Geelong in 1876 by James Huddart, Thomas J. Parker, and others as Huddart, Parker & Co. P/L. It moved to Melbourne in 1890.

Leader (Melbourne), 1st January 1901 page 79.

It traded the main intercolonial routes as well as to New Zealand with fierce rivalry occurring with other shipping lines.  It became a public company in 1911. The firm was taken over in 1961 by Bitumen and Oil Refineries Australia Ltd.

SLV #je003323 : Officer Huddart Parker & Co.


James Patrick & Co. Ltd.

Stokes & Sons Melb.
Tony Earle’s button: VBCC magazine May 2017

The Telegraph (Brisbane), 29th July 1940 page 4. Captain J. R. Patrick.















Founded by James Patrick in 1919 as the Patrick Steamship Company, becoming James Patrick & Co Ltd by 1925 and operating ships until 1962.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 5th October 1927 page 18. “The Cardross, built for James Patrick and Co. Ltd., was recently launched at Aberdeen.”


Melbourne Steamship Company Ltd.

Australian National Maritime Museum collection.1895-1961

In 1884 the Melbourne Coal, Shipping and Engineering Co Ltd became the Melbourne Shipping Co. Ltd. then in 1895 the Melbourne Steamship Co Ltd. They opened branches in Fremantle, Sydney, Adelaide and Newcastle. In 1961 the firm was taken over by Howard Smith Ltd.

NB: There was an earlier  similarly named Melbourne Steam Ship Company 1864-1883.


Mercantile Navy (unspecified)

White metal: Stokes & Sons. Gilt: Stokes & Sons Melb

The larger button is backmarked Stokes & Sons Melbourne, the smaller, Stokes Vic

Stokes & Sons Victoria


The Newcastle & Hunter River Steamship Company Ltd.

In 1892 this company was formed from the amalgamation of the Newcastle Steamship and the Hunter River Steam Navigation companies. It operated until 1956. It was delisted and became the Southern Shipping Company Limited in 1965. For detailed information and pictures of the fleet see

From a company brochure.

By 1904 they provided services between Sydney, Newcastle, Morpeth, Raymond terrace, Miller’s Forest, Paterson and Clarencetown. By 1914 they also serviced Bulahdelah and Port Stephens. The advent of rail and road transport lead to the demise of the company.


Pacific Steam Navigation Co.

Backmark: Firmin & Sons Ld. London. Pre 1902.

The company was founded in London in 1838, carrying mail along the Pacific coast of South America. Around 1876 it gained a mail contract from London to Sydney; this route was sold in 1905 to the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company followed by the rest of the company five years later.

Evening News (Sydney), 4th March 1876 page 4.

The Telegraph (Brisbane), 12th July 1910 page 6.

Australian Town and Country Journal (Sydney), 26th December 1896. The Orotna unfortunately sank in 1896.


Royal Dutch Shell Group

Stokes & Sons Melbourne

from left: R. MacLeod Forest Avenue East London, Stokes & Sons Melb, unmarked.

In 1833 Marcus Samuel started selling shells imported from the far-east from his antiques business. This was the start of the Samuel family’s import/export future. In 1892 they arranged for a bulk steamer to ship oil from Baku to the United Kingdom through the Suez canal for the first time. In 1903 ‘The Shell transport and Trading Company’ started to merge with the Royal Dutch petroleum Company. By 1907 they had became Royal Dutch Shell group.

In 1904, the scallop shell (or pecten) had replaced Shell Transport’s first marketing logo, a mussel shell.

Shell started shipping bulk fuel to Australia in 1901. In 1905 Shell and Royal Dutch established the ‘British Imperial Oil Company’ in Australia. Over the years they expanded into storage, distribution, refining and service stations.

The Inverell Times (NSW) 27th Nov 1925 page 4.

In an 1925 newspaper article boasted of the companies policy of  “…  preference for Australian workers and Australian products …. The Shell Company here is proud of the fact that everything, from its Motor Spirit to its back-country Depots is All-British, and most of it All-Australian. It is the Spirit of the Flag.”  So while I can’t find a reference to when the uniform button was produced, it could have been as early as this era.


Tasmanian Steam Navigation Co.

Note there is some possibility this is another company, as according to heraldic rules, the button shows a white cross on a red background, rather than the reverse.

Tony’s button: Bidencope Hobart

Maritime Museum of Tasmania: Badge of the T.S.N. Co.








The company was established in Hobart in 1853. it provided shipping between Tasmania and the mainland, then later to New Zealand.  It was bought out in 1891, but traded under this name until 1922.

Maritime Museum of Tasmania: Officers of the OONAH belonging to the TSNCo.


Union Steam Ship Co.

Stokes & Sons

Stokes & Sons Melbourne








See the full entry on the New Zealand Page.







W. H. Smith & Sons Limited

1883-1898. Image used with permission.

National Maritime museum item #00037518. Plaque to Howard Smith Line house flag.















Englishman William Howard Smith (1814-1890) brought his family to Australia in 1854. His first steam shipping business here was a successful passenger Melbourne-Geelong service, with partner S. P. O. Skinner. Eight years later he sold out to start an inter-colonial business with his ship, the You Yangs, running between Melbourne, Sydney and Newcastle. He was again successful, and able to buy a second ship, the Dandenong, which was later unfortunately wrecked. He became the largest coal importer into Melbourne with a growing fleet. Three of his sons had joined the firm by the late 1870s. It became a limited liability company in 1883 then a propriety limited company in 1898. It then became the Howard Smith Co Ltd in 1901. From 1870 captain Smith had ceased sailing, although he stayed in management until 1887. Smith was involved in many maritime pursuits, including the Maritime Harbour Trust, the Marine Board of Victoria, the Melbourne Sailors’ Home and the Victorian Shipwreck Relief Society. Upon his death in 1890 the firm continued under the control of four of his sons.

The Argus (Melbourne), 24th March 1890 page 8.

Leader (Melbourne), 1st January 1901 page 78.

The firm  got out of passenger services to focus on bulk and speciality shipping. It diversified into coal mining, steel production, stevedoring, travel, railway rolling stock building, sugar production and retail. It was the largest operator of tug boats. From 1990 its divisions were sold off, with the firm closing in 2001.

The Pictorial Australian (Adelaide), 1st September 1894 page 1.

Chronicle (Adelaide), 26th March 1936 page 38. The Canberra was a fast, reliable and popular cruise and freight ship in her day. She was used as a troop ship during WW1.




Stokes & Sons Melb

The Mail Adelaide, 12th July 1913 page 1.

“After long years of strenuous fighting and planning those whose brains conceived the idea of municipal abattoirs to control the meat supply of this city reaped their reward today, when what might be termed the city’s great meat shop was officially declared opened. The days of the old cattle market on North Terrace …  have gone forever.”

The Mail Adelaide, 12th July 1913 page 1.

The abattoirs had 17 ‘motor lorries’ to deliver meat to Adelaide and suburbs and the drivers were provided with uniforms. Perhaps the button is from one such uniform.



Stokes & Sons 1956-1962.

Tribune (Sydney), 23rd May 1956 page 3.

In 1956 M.S.S. started supplying security guards to various work places, initially to the upset of various unions that believed the security guards were armed thugs spying on the workers.  In 1970 M.S.S. (ACT) was taken over by Mayne Nickless Limited. It was part of Mayne Nickless until 1992, when company sold of its security and transport interests. Both M.S.S. and the  Australian Watching Company (later Wormald Security) were bought by Chubb Security. After 20 years Chubb sold off the security services.

On its webpage of the current version of M.S.S the company tries to claim it traces back to 1896 (which Chubb does) which is a little rich, as they were only owned by Chubb from the 1990s for twenty years. It is owned by SIS (Security and Intelligence Services). All this is confusing, but there have been multiple mergers and demergers in the security industry.

State Library Victoria: MSS officer (Mr Day), 1974.




Parkes Australia wide

NASA was a private training school for pilots, based on the methods of the Empire Air training School in Canada in February 1967. It was named in jest after the “other” N.A.S.A. and an acronym was made up to suit; Nationwide Aviation Space Academy. It was renamed the Civil Aviation Training Academy (C.A.T.A) in the late 1970s and closed in the 1980s.

The Canberra Times, 25th April 1967 page 10.



Stokes. The motto translates as ‘United Service”.

Stokes & Sons









According to the site

“Formed in 1881 as a meeting place for officers, the Naval and Military Club is reputedly the oldest service club in Australia with a continuous history. First known as the Pipeclay Club …  It moved quarters many times before acquiring 7 Alfred Place (the former German Club) in 1920. By then, as a result of World War I, its membership had greatly increased. In 1967 it moved to a new clubhouse at 27 Little Collins Street.  In its first years it held lectures on military topics but this activity was taken over by the United Services Institution after 1889. The current name dates from 1952*. Distinguished presidents include General Sir John Monash and Field Marshal Sir Thomas Blamey. Membership was extended to civilians after long years of peace, and to women in 1992.”

*However, from Trove, comes these articles, which indicate that the Pipeclay club was merged with the Naval & Military Club in 1889. It was referred in newspapers under that name from that time.

The Argus (Melbourne), 26th may 1886 page 5.

The Age (Melbourne), 6th December 1889 page 4.

State Library Victoria: 7 Albert Place, c.1928




Backmark: Stokes & Sons Melb. The compass surrounding the outline of Australia dates from around the late 1940s- early 1960s.

Albert Arthur Withers was the pioneer of this company. It had its origins as a one coach business from 1905, building up a fleet of coaches which became Withers P/L in 1914, then the Pioneer Tourist Couches in 1923.  In 1923 you could tour places such as Yarra Glen, Christmas Hills, Mornington, Sassafrass, the Grampians, Gippsland including Buchan Caves, Warburton and a “Grand Sydney Tour”. In 1927 they offered transport to the opening of the Federal Parliament in Canberra. The following year they started tours of Central Australia and the Northern territory.

Bruce Howard Collection. Libraries Australia #46721358. Pioneer coach c.1925

Walkabout magazine, 1st January 1937 page 6. They offered tours through their own bureaus.

The first around Australia Tour was held in 1934.

Border Morning Mail (Albury NSW), 1st November 1944 page 5.

Restrictions of petrol sales halted the tours during WW2, but they resumed in 1945. In 1944 Ansett Airways Limited had bought the firm with plans to expand the services and co-ordinate then with its plane trips. The company ran 84 coaches by that stage.

To complement the business, Ansett planned to build a chain luxury hotels along focal points of the routes, and started to buying existing hotels and also build new accomodation, under a new subsidiary called Poineer Hotels P/L. They established a body-building plant in Essendon to produce luxury coaches. By 1947 they had 115 vehicles, ran 210 routes (in all states except for Western Australia) and carried nearly 2000 tourists a day staying in 26 hotels. They had set up garages to service the fleet. “With a sense of acheivement” Ansett advertised:

The Daily telegraph (Sydney), 30th November 1947 page 40. The hotel business was renamed Ansett Hotels P/L around 1952.

The Bulletin, 6th October 1948 page 4. The compass symbol caan be seen, without the outline of Australia.

With fuel shortages gradually being  addressed, overland buses to Perth started in 1948, as well as services to Broken Hill. There were now over 150 vehicles in operation, 28 hotels and 5000 tourists carried each week in Victoria alone. In 1950 the firm was applying for permission to build bigger coaches, to increase seating from 10 to 20 passengers. This was why the number of coaches were able to be reduced from 173 down to 135 in 1952. Ansett were finding running of luxury hotels very expensive, and decided not to expand this area of the business further. They had to drop tariffs to Hayman Island to get more visitors.

From 1954 the touring company was known as Ansett-Pioneer Tours.

Pioneer Express services, rather than touring, began with a daily Melbourne-Sydney journey, in 1955. This was renamed Ansett Roadlines of Australia in 1958.

Ansett Pioneer was sold in 1986 then split up in 1988. In 1993 the various coach firms were merged into Greyhound Pioneer Australia.

Mimag magazine, July 1964 page 19. See the symbol on the door.



Backmark: A. J. Parkes

The Australian Jewish News, 14th April 1989 page 36.

The address of this business was 12 North Wharf Road, Melbourne in 1998.  The logo was registered for trademark in 1993, by Stonepack P/L, even though it was in use from at least 1989 (see above). Stonepack was in administration from the late 1990s and formally deregistered in 2008.



Securicor was a large UK security business that had a subsidiary in Australia from around 1964 to ?1993. It merged with Group 4 Falck in 2004.

Backmark: K.G.Luke Melbourne

Source: From an old auction.




See entry for State Government Insurance Office on the Government uniform page. This insurer was privatised in 1994.



Backmark: Stokes

The South Mailands Railways P/L is a privately owned railway company. It was established in 1891 by the East Greta Company to service the coal fields in the region, and link them to the Great Northern Railway. The initial gravitation and horse drawn trains were replaced by steam locomotion from 1895. As the region developed over the next couple of decades the network grew to service up to 26 mines. In 1918 two private mining railways merged to form the South Maitland railways. It is now owned by H&M Holdings P/L.

The Age (Melbourne), 6th September 1918 page 7.

From Wikipedia: East Greta No1 Tunnel Colliery, near Maitland, New South Wales, Australia c.1910

From Wikipedia: Engine SMR10 at the East Greta Junction. 2010.

Wikipedia reports the “mothballing” of the last line ( to the Pelton Colliery) as of March 2020, but the company’s webpage seems to indicate it is still operating for maintenance, training, repair and tourism.



Backmark: Luke Badge 8732555

The company was originally called the ‘Australian Watching Company’ from 1957. It was taken over and called Wormald International Security in 1972. Around 1988 the company sold off the security part of the business to concentrate on fire protection services (Wormald International).



 Stokes & Sons Melb

P. W. Tewksbury c.1916








In early 1924 Mr Pearson William Tewksbury proposed to introduce to Australia the “Chicago Yellow” cab.  He had already been involved several other taxi companies, the City Motor Service Ltd. (from 1911) and the Royal Blue Motor Service Pty. Ltd. (from 1921) in Melbourne,  and the de Luxe in Sydney.  This company,  ‘The Yellow Cabs of Australia Limited ‘,  was the first in Australia to run meter-operated cabs,  and did not to charge the customer for the return journey when the cab was empty!  This was achieve by locating various depots in the suburbs so the taxi could wait at the nearest location rather than return to the city.

The Mail (Adelaide) 1st March 1924 page 16.

Yellow Cab, 1926 State Library SA:

 Uniformed taxi driver 1927. State Library WA

The Sun (Sydney) 10th March 1948 page 3.