Thursday 25th August 2011 A Photo for The Elders in Mapoon

HC&MS Button Front LoResToday I took some photographs of a very old button for Mary-Jean who is a PhD Candidate at the University of Queensland.

Mary Jean is working with the Elders in Mapoon (Far north Queensland) to discover the origins of a button found near aboriginal burial site. The hope is to unlock some history of the area using archeology

What is known about this button is that ….
The button was made by Joseph (or Josh) Starkey 23 Conduit Street London W1
The Company moved there from Old Bond Street in 1856 and then moved to George Street in 1914 so this button is dated between 1856 and 1914 so just before the great war when they would have been allowed to make civilian buttons.

Its about 1 inch in Diamter and therefore would have been made for a coat

The front of the button has the letters “HC & MS. Co.” on the top of the shield and on the bottom of the shield insignia the letters “LIMd” so it looks like it has been made for a Limited Company.

My own guess on the story of this button is ….  that Joseph Starkey although known for making Military buttons, made this button for a Scottish civilian clothing company (I am guessing the shield has been taken from the Scottish flag). This button may have been then transported to Australia in the early 1920’s or so by the presbyterian missionaries for the native Aborigines.

Two mistakes may have occurred with this button as 23 Condiut St has been engraved 23 Oonduit St and London has a space between “lond” and “on”. This is interesting! Maybe they only allowed the apprentice to engrave the mold used on this button which was then used to make civilian buttons whilst the experienced hands worked with better molds on the more prestigious military buttons. Who Knows!

Also how did it find its way to Mapoon? and who would have taken it there?

Feel free to post any ideas or thoughts as they are welcomed and will be passed onto Mary-Jean at the University of Queensland.

HC&MS Button Front LoRes

HC&MS Button Back LoRes

show hide 10 comments

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Peter Paul, Just curious, what camera did you use or this Macro? Peter

Paul Copsey Hi Peter, I used a Canon G11 which has a lovely shallow DoF (depth of Field). The issue was more the lighting in order to see the inscriptions. Broad light was not good and in the end I used window light at a 45 degree angle. Rgds Paul

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