General Service Buttons

One of the most common finds, appearing in boxes of junk and old sewing boxes, is the humble general service button. These brass buttons were used on millions of army uniforms for many decades and came in a number of different sizes. The most common ones however are the 1″ buttons used to secure the front of World War One service dress amongst many other uniforms:

The buttons themselves feature the royal coat of arms and can be found with both the slightly pointed crown of Queen Victoria and the Imperial crown of Kings Edward VII, George V and George VI which is the version we have here:

General service buttons had been introduced in the 1870s, when only officers had regimental pattern buttons and other ranks wore the standard design. The buttons continued in service right through from that point onwards and the new khaki service dress introduced in 1902 specified that the buttons should be of the standard GS pattern. A small number of units such as the Guards, Household Cavalry and Rifle regiments had dispensation to wear different buttons, but the vast majority of men used the standard pattern.

During World War One the number of manufacturers of GS buttons boomed and there were over thirty different producers that are known about today. These four buttons are split evenly between Gaunt of London:

And Cheney of Birmingham:

Other manufacturers’ marks include:

  • BURY COURT MFG
  • SYDNEY GRIFFITH BIRMINGHAM
  • NEWEY BROS. LIMITED BIRMINGHAM
  • W. DEARN & CO. BIRMINGHAM
  • C.H.C.& S. LTD BIRMINGHAM
  • C.H. PARSONS LTD BIRMINGHAM
  • STRATTON B’HAM
  • SMITH & WRIGHT LIMITED BIRMINGHAM
  • ESSOR B’HAM
  • ADAMS B’HAM
  • THE DEVERLEA PRODUCTS LTD. BIRMINGHAM
  • BUTTONS LIMITED BIRMINGHAM
  • CHENEY B’HAM
  • HEATON & TAYLOR LTD BIRMINGHAM
  • RECAL BUTTON WORKS LTD. B’HAM
  • W. TWIGG & CO. BIRMINGHAM
  • KENWORTHYS LTD BIRMINGHAM
  • LION BIRMINGHAM
  • HARCOURTS LTD BIRMINGHAM
  • MORTON & CROWDER LTD BIRMINGHAM
  • E. ARMFIELD LTD BIRMINGHAM
  • WM. DOWLER & SONS LTD BIRMM
  • FIRMIIN & SONS LTD. LONDON
  • WRIGHT & SONS EDGEWARE MIDDX
  • JR GAUNT & SON LTD. LONDON
  • G.J. WEBB & CO LTD. LONDON

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