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Retail Equipment > Buttons

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Olney Amsden & Sons button cards, 1925
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Object statement
Button cards (6), cardboard / felt / linen / plastic / cotton / pearl / metal / ink, made by Olney Amsden & Sons Ltd, London, England, 1925
Buttons reflect the technology, materials and fashion of the time they were produced. They have been in existence since ancient times. In the past their purpose was mainly ornamental and they were made by a craftsman, quite different to their mass produced utilitarian function today.

The buttonhole was invented in the thirteenth century replacing loop fastening. This is when buttons began to be produced in large quantities and the modern button began (1.). The eighteenth century is considered to be the 'golden age' of buttons with flourishing industries beginning in France and Britain. The Industrial Revolution expanded the button industry and numbers of buttons being produced.

These button cards are an example of British package design from 1925. Decorative button cards were a convenient way to sell and display buttons. The buttons reveal the styles and materials that were available and fashionable at the time. Buttons are generally no longer sold on decorative cards and most buttons are mass produced and utilitarian. Many buttons in this collection are decorative signifying the changes in the last eighty years in the production and purpose of buttons.

(1.) Whittemore, Joyce, 'The book of buttons: A practical and creative guide to the decorative use of buttons', Sydney: Hodder & Stoughton, 1992.
Made by Olney Amsden & Sons Ltd., London E.C.
These button cards were owned by Mrs Ella-Nora Smith (nee Seward), who was born in 1904 and died in 2001 at the age of 97. She was the donor's great aunt. Ella was not a seamstress, however like many women of her time could sew and did make some of her own clothes when she was a young woman.

It is likely that Ella obtained these button cards through her work as a secretary/typist in the Sydney Office of the London Times. She worked here until she married at 45. Product samples were sent to Australia with copies of the Times from the United Kingdom. Ella's boss would frequently give some of the samples to her. Samples included haberdashery items such as buttons and ribbons.

Some of the buttons may have been purchased to mend her clothing. Ella worked in Sydney's CBD and could have purchased them from one of the department stores at the time such as Farmers or David Jones.

 This text content licensed under CC BY-NC.

Description
Button cards (6), cardboard / felt / linen / plastic / cotton / pearl / metal / ink, made by Olney Amsden & Sons Ltd, London, England, 1925

Six button cards by Olney Amsden & Sons of London. Five cards are the same in design and one is different. Button card descriptions are:

Button card no.37

White cardboard button card with a cream felt backing. The card has an ornate gold, red and black border. '1925' is marked on the card as well as 'Card No. 37'. At the top in ornate gold and black writing is 'Olney Amsden & Sons Ltd London, E.C.'. At the bottom of the card in black is 'All prices are subject to Fluctuations of the Market.' There are 41 buttons on this card of various shapes, patterns and colours. Each button has a border marked on the card with the button at its centre. There are 20 different styles of buttons on this card. The first style and price is: 'ART MB729' with two sizes '8´´´' and '13´´´' 'Lines'. The smaller is priced '18/6' and the larger is '42/-' 'Per Gross'. For this style each button also has 'Col.' and a number printed above it. The second style and price is: 'ART MB41' with two sizes '6´´´' and '8´´´' 'Lines'. The smaller is priced '8/6' and the larger is '12/6' 'Per Gross'. For this style each button also has 'Col.' and a number printed above it. The other styles have one cream crocheted button per style, they are: MB38-39, MB43-47 and MB50-58. Each one has their price marked near it. The button for style 'MB58' is missing.

Button Card No. 39

White cardboard button card with a cream felt backing. The card has an ornate gold, red and black border. '1925' is marked on the card as well as 'Card No. 39'. The card has two parts cut out from the top and bottom. The companies name is partly missing because the card has been cut, however the card is the same as four others in this collection. In ornate gold and black writing 'Olney A ..' and 'Ltd London, E.C.' can be seen, therefore the company must be Olney Amsden & Sons Ltd. There are 68 plastic buttons on this card of various shapes, patterns and colours. Some have holes at their centres and others have a shank at the back. Each button has a border marked on the card with the button at its centre. One button is missing from one of the borders. Each button also has 'Col.' and a number printed underneath or above it. There are 7 different styles of buttons on this card. It could be presumed that there would have been two more styles if the card wasn't cut. The styles and prices are: 'Art J410 4/3 Per Gross'; 'Art J125 4/11 Per Gross'; 'Art J400 3/11 Per Gross'; 'Art J425' with two sizes- '16´´´' and '28´´´' 'Lines', the smaller is '3/11' and the larger is '6/6' 'Per Gross'; 'Art J420 3/9 Per Gross'; 'Art J130 5/6 per Gross' and 'Art J415 3/6 Per Gross'. Above one of the bits cut out is 'Art J430 2/6 Per Gross' and below the other bit cut out is 'J435 done up loose in Envelopes'.

Button card no.74

White cardboard button card with a cream felt backing. The card has an ornate gold, red and black border. '1925' is marked on the card as well as 'Card No. 74'. At the top in ornate gold and black writing is 'Olney Amsden & Sons Ltd London, E.C.' At the bottom of the card in black is 'All prices are subject to Fluctuations of the Market.' There are 59 buttons on this card of various shapes, patterns and colours. Some have holes at their centres and others have a shank at the back. Each button has a border marked on the card with the button at its centre. There are 6 different styles of buttons on this card. The first style and price is: 'ART C966' with two sizes '5' and '8' 'Lines'. The smaller is priced '6/11' and the larger is '15/11' 'Per Gross'. For this style each button also has 'Col.' and a number printed above it. The second style and price is: 'ART H235' with four sizes '24', '28', '36' and '44' 'Lines'. The prices are from smallest to largest: '5/11', '6/11', '9/11' and '14/11' 'Per Gross'. For this style each button also has 'Col.' and a number printed above it. The third style and price is 'L73' with three sizes: '18´´´', '22´´´' and '28´´´' 'Lines'. The prices are from smallest to largest: '2/6', '2/11', and '3/11' 'Per Gross'. The fourth style and price is 'L75' with three sizes: '18´´´', '22´´´' and '28´´´'. The prices are from smallest to largest: '2/6', '2/11', and '3/11' 'Per Gross'. The fifth style and price is 'L72' with three sizes: '18´´´', '22´´´' and '28´´´'. The prices are from smallest to largest: '2/3', '2/6', and '3/6' 'Per Gross'. The sixth style and price is 'L74' with four sizes: '18´´´', '22´´´', '28´´´' and '36´´´'. The prices are from smallest to largest: '2/9', '3/3', '4/3' and '7/11' 'Per Gross'.

Button card no.81

White cardboard button card with a cream felt backing. The card has an ornate gold, red and black border. '1925' is marked on the card as well as 'Card No. 81'. At the top in ornate gold and black writing is 'Olney Amsden & Sons Ltd London, E.C.' At the bottom of the card in black is 'All prices are subject to Fluctuations of the Market.' There are 28 plastic buttons on this card of various shapes, patterns and colours. They all have holes at their centres. Each button has a border marked on the card with the button at its centre. Each button also has 'Col.' and a number printed above it. There are 2 different styles of buttons on this card. The first style and price is: 'ART C 967' with two sizes '4½' and '8' 'Lines'. The smaller is priced '5/11' and the larger is '9/11' 'Per Gross'. The second style and price is: 'ART H 271' with two sizes '36' and '70' 'Lines'. The smaller is priced '11/6' and the larger is '36/-' 'Per Gross'.

Button card no.93

White cardboard button card with a cream felt backing. The card has an ornate gold, red and black border. '1925' is marked on the card as well as 'Card No. 93'. At the top in ornate gold and black writing is 'Olney Amsden & Sons Ltd London, E.C.' At the bottom of the card in black is 'All prices are subject to Fluctuations of the Market.' There are 46 pearl buttons on this card of various shapes and sizes. Some have holes at their centres and others have a shank at the back. Each button has a border marked on the card with the button at its centre. Each type of button has available sizes and the price printed near the button. Printed on the card is: 'Selected Quality Pearl Buttons'. There are seventeen different styles of button on this card, they are: 'S. T.', 'O.N', 'A.C.', 'F.T.', 'H.', 'T.', 'O.', 'W.Q.', 'B.W', 'HW', 'A.C.S.', 'K.B.', 'A.W.B.', 'Z.W.B.', 'H.W.B.', 'D.S.S.' and 'M.S.S.' One button from 'D.S.S.' is missing and 3 buttons from 'S.T.' are missing.

Button card that is different in design

White cardboard button card with a cream felt backing. There is a black double line border. At the top of the card is printed: 'OLNEY, AMSDEN & SONS. LTD., LONDON, E.C.' in large black writing and underneath in smaller black writing is 'THESE BUTTONS ARE ALL BEST BRITISH MANUFACTURE.' On the left and right corners just inside the border written at an angle is 'EXPORT Dept.' Printed outside the border at the bottom is: 'SUBJECT TO THE FLUCTUATION OF THE MARKET'. There are 6 button cards on this cardboard, three on the top row and three on the bottom.

The first button card on the top row has a black background and gold writing. The top 1 cm of the card label is ripped off where another card would have been attached. There is a logo that includes the words 'PROGRESS', 'UNIFORMITY' and 'EXCELLENCE'. There are the words 'REGISTERED TRADE MARK' underneath the logo and then in the outline of a shield is written: 'WARRANTED ENGLISH MAKE'. On either side of this writing are the words 'COVERED' and 'BUTTON'. The card also has printed on it: '20 LINES', 'ASK FOR THE CLIMAX BUTTON.', 'STRONG & DURABLE BUTTON.' and 'WILL NOT BREAK IN WASHING OR MANGLING'. There are nine buttons missing. Below this card written in black is: 'CLIMAX Plain' and 'CLIMAX 2-Hole' and both are '8/- Per Gross Cards'.

The second button card on the top row has a black background and gold writing. The top 2 cm of the card label is ripped off where another card would have been attached. There is a logo that includes the words 'PROGRESS', 'UNIFORMITY' and 'EXCELLENCE'. There are the words 'REGISTERED TRADE MARK' underneath the logo. 'FOUR FOLD' is printed in large letters. Also printed on the card is: '20 LINES', 'ASK FOR THE ENTERPRISE BUTTON.', 'STRONG & DURABLE BUTTON.', 'WILL NOT BREAK IN WASHING OR MANGLING', 'ALL SIZES SAME PRICE' and 'MADE IN ENGLAND'. There are 11 white cotton covered buttons and one more space for a button that is missing. Below this card written in black is: 'ENTERPRISE Plain' and 'NONPAREIL 2-Hole' and both are '16/9 Per Gross Cards'.

The third button card on the top row has a light blue background and gold writing. The top 2 cm of the card has been ripped off where another card would have been attached. Writing on the card near the top says: 'FOUR-FOLD' and underneath 'Linen Buttons'. The card also has printed on it: '20 LINES', 'BEST HEAVY METAL FRAMES', 'GUARANTEED IRISH LINEN' and ASK FOR THE CHATSWORTH BUTTON.' There are 12 white linen buttons. Below this card written in black is: 'CHATSWORTH Plain' and 'HERCULES COVERED BACK 2-Hole' and both are '16/9 Per Gross Cards'.

The first button card on the bottom row has two cards attached together at the top. The card on top has a white background with blue, white and red writing and design. In white writing with a blue background are the words: 'THE "OASIS"' and 'PLAIN OR TWO HOLE'. Written in red is 'CARD OF SUPERIOR BUTTONS.', 'AVERAGED CARDS', '20 LINES FULL SIZE.', 'DOES NOT BREAK IN MANGLING', 'ASK FOR THE "OASIS" CARD.', 'RELIABLE QUALITY BUTTON' and 'MADE IN ENGLAND'. There are twelve white cotton covered buttons on the card. At their centre are two holes edged in metal.

The top of the card below can not be seen. In white writing with a blue background are the words: 'PLAIN OR TWO HOLE'. Written in red is 'SUPERIOR BUTTONS.', 'AVERAGED CARDS', '20 LINES FULL SIZE.', 'DOES NOT BREAK IN MANGLING', 'ASK FOR THE "OASIS" CARD.', 'RELIABLE QUALITY BUTTON' and 'MADE IN ENGLAND'. There are twelve white cotton covered buttons. Below both cards written in black is: 'OASIS Plain' and 'OASIS 2-Hole'. Both are '9/6 Per Gross Cards'. '9/6' is written in pen and something else printed has been scratched off.

The second button card on the bottom row has a white background and gold, red and white writing and design. Written in white with a gold background is: 'OLNEY, AMSDEN & SONS. Ltd..', 'EXTRA QUALITY', 'FOUR FOLD' and 'LINEN BUTTON'. In red is a logo that includes the words 'PROGRESS', 'UNIFORMITY' and 'EXCELLENCE'. There are the words 'REGISTERED TRADE MARK' underneath the logo. Also written in red is: 'NEW REGISTERED CARD.', '20 Lines Full Size', 'DOES NOT BREAK IN MANGLING', 'THE GENUINE LINEN BUTTON', 'MADE IN ENGLAND' and 'MADE OF FINEST QUALITY LINEN.'. There are twelve white linen covered buttons. Below this card written in black is: 'REGISTERED 4-Fold Plain' and '22/- Per Gross Cards'.

The third button card on the bottom row has a light blue background with black writing. Written on the card is: '"THE PROTECTOR" REGISTERED TRADE MARK No. 47-610.', 'LINEN BUTTON.', 'COVERED BACKS', '20 LINES', 'THIS BUTTON IS ONLY MADE IN BEST QUALITY AND WILL BE FOUND THE MOST DURABLE OF LINEN BUTTONS', 'THE BEST TWO-HOLE BUTTON.', 'MADE IN ENGLAND' and 'THE SUNK CENTRE OF THIS BUTTON PROTECTS IT FROM ALL FRICTION ON THE THREAD.' There is a logo that includes the words 'PROGRESS', 'UNIFORMITY' and 'EXCELLENCE'. There are the words 'REGISTERED TRADE MARK' underneath the logo. Below this card written in black is: 'PROTECTOR COVERED BACK 2-HOLE' and '26/- Per Gross Cards'. There are twelve white linen buttons with a sunk centre and two holes surrounded by metal on this card.

Made: 1925
2007/91/1
Production date
1925
Width
264 mm
Depth
1 mm

 This text content licensed under CC BY-SA.
Acquisition credit line
Gift of Kerrie Dougherty, 2007
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Concise link back to this object: http://from.ph/365125
Cite this object in Wikipedia
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{{cite web |url=http://from.ph/365125 |title=Olney Amsden & Sons button cards |author=Powerhouse Museum |accessdate=21 August 2014 |publisher=Powerhouse Museum, Australia}}


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