Uniform buttons

Post your photographs of the LNER and its Constituents here! Links to film/video are also welcome.

Moderators: 52D, Rlangham, Atlantic 3279, Blink Bonny, Saint Johnstoun, Tom F

Post Reply
Maggie
NER Y7 0-4-0T
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Sep 17, 2009 8:39 am

Uniform buttons

Post by Maggie » Thu Sep 17, 2009 9:29 am

I have acquired a small collection of railway uniform buttons, and I hope someone might know the answer to this question.

I have read in the LNER Encyclopedia that the LNER was "one of the Big Four companies formed during the 1923 Grouping Act". I assume that these buttons were for uniforms made in that "Big Four" period:

Image

I understand that they were designed by Eric Gill (if anyone has more information about this, I'd love to know!), and they certainly have a 1920s art deco look about them. However, I also have some more buttons with LNER on them:

Image

The lettering on these looks much earlier - 1890s, perhaps - yet according to the Encyclopedia, the LNER wasn't established until 1923. Can anyone tell me what these older buttons are, please?

Bill Bedford
LNER A3 4-6-2
Posts: 1241
Joined: Sat Mar 08, 2008 9:43 pm

Re: Uniform buttons

Post by Bill Bedford » Thu Sep 17, 2009 9:51 am

Maggie wrote:I have acquired a small collection of railway uniform buttons, and I hope someone might know the answer to this question.

I have read in the LNER Encyclopedia that the LNER was "one of the Big Four companies formed during the 1923 Grouping Act". I assume that these buttons were for uniforms made in that "Big Four" period:
I understand that they were designed by Eric Gill (if anyone has more information about this, I'd love to know!), and they certainly have a 1920s art deco look about them.
Eric Gill designed the type face 'Gill Sans' in the late twenties. These buttons therefore date from after the mid thirties.
The lettering on these looks much earlier - 1890s, perhaps - yet according to the Encyclopedia, the LNER wasn't established until 1923. Can anyone tell me what these older buttons are, please?
These are the original 1923 design.

User avatar
Flamingo
GCR O4 2-8-0 'ROD'
Posts: 565
Joined: Tue Feb 12, 2008 1:23 pm
Location: Hampshire

Re: Uniform buttons

Post by Flamingo » Thu Sep 17, 2009 11:46 am

If you are serious about collecting railway buttons you really need to have them authenticated and valued before accepting them as genuine or paying good money for any more. Many replica railway buttons have been made in recent years. They are often worn by the volunteers who work on preserved steam railways and the souvenir shops on such lines usually have replica buttons for sale. If you live near any of these lines go along and have a look round, I'd be very surprised if you were not to see any.

blandford1969
LNER J94 0-6-0ST Austerity
Posts: 43
Joined: Mon Jul 07, 2008 7:07 pm
Location: Bridgnorth

Re: Uniform buttons

Post by blandford1969 » Thu Sep 17, 2009 12:20 pm

The image is not showing up on my pc, If you dont mind saying was it a shop they came from?

If they are replica LNER buttons they are certainly not as common as other railways. Certainly Longleat sell LMS, GWR and SR buttons, but i have not seen LNER replica buttons for sale.

Indeed there are at least 2 station staff at Goathland would love to know where to get replica LNER buttons from. I agree on the comment about getting them authenticated.

Maggie
NER Y7 0-4-0T
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Sep 17, 2009 8:39 am

Re: Uniform buttons

Post by Maggie » Thu Sep 17, 2009 9:18 pm

Thank you for so many helpful answers - and so quickly too! I'll try to answer all the points raised.

First, I should have realised the Gill Sans was too late for the first round of LNER uniforms - thanks for clearing that up. I think that the script face of the earlier buttons must have looked a tad old-fashioned in 1923!

I had never considered the possibility of replica buttons, and I have no idea how one would go about having buttons authenticated. However, I have seen single buttons for sale on eBay which look suspiciously shiny. The eBay ones seem to sell for about a pound apiece, and I bought my buttons (39 in total) for much less than that, so even if they are replicas I don't think I've been ripped off. But now I have to try and convince you that mine are the genuine article.

I bought my buttons from an auction. The auctioneer is not an expert in railway memorabilia, but he knows when somebody's trying to put one over on him. I've written to ask if he can tell me any more about the source of the buttons. In the meantime, all I can say is that there were a couple of other railway-related items in the auction - the lot preceding mine was a big carton full of railway ticket printing blocks, so I suspect that the railway stuff came from a single serious collector.

My buttons are home-mounted on five thick pieces of card. Four of the cards contain a mixture of sizes, and the buttons are in varying conditions - some shinier than others, some badly stained, some with good strong shanks and others loose, some worn and others quite crisp. They look as though they have been mounted as they were acquired, not as part of a set. Click on these pictures to see them full size:

Image Image

These are the backs of the LNER buttons, original and Gill versions:

Image Image

Sorry the first picture isn't very good - the wording says SPECIAL QUALITY.

There are two LNER cards (one with six of the original buttons, and the other with twelve of the Gill ones). The other cards - which I hardly like to mention in this forum :roll: - are Southern Region, Great Western Railway and London Midland and Scottish, all with the same sort of variations in condition. These have little puzzles of their own - for example, the GWR buttons are also in two types (one script and the other sans serif), but two of the sans serif buttons just have the letters GWR, while another has the sans serif face but surrounded by a wreath.

Again, thanks for your responses. If I hear anything more about the source of the buttons, I'll let you know.

User avatar
Flamingo
GCR O4 2-8-0 'ROD'
Posts: 565
Joined: Tue Feb 12, 2008 1:23 pm
Location: Hampshire

Re: Uniform buttons

Post by Flamingo » Fri Sep 18, 2009 9:24 am

When I worked as a volunteer on a steam railway I wore replica buttons myself. They were bought in a railway souvenir shop and I knew they were replicas. The point is that when they were new they were bright and shiny, and as they aged the surface took on a dull matt appearance just like some of those in your pictures.
2SRbuttons.jpg
Repilca SR buttons after about 10 years use
It would be more accurate to call this sort as 'brass effect' buttons and if that is how they are described for sale then the EBay price is about right. If however they are genuine brass buttons authenticated as coming from one of the old railway companies, and you still bought them for the EBay price or even less, then you probably got a bargain and I would repeat the advice so often given by the experts on Antiques Roadshow to get such items valued and insured.

There are auction houses which specialise in railwayana who would probably value them for you, or alternatively the National Railway Museum at York has a lot of information on railway uniforms and the like.

Maggie
NER Y7 0-4-0T
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Sep 17, 2009 8:39 am

Re: Uniform buttons

Post by Maggie » Fri Sep 18, 2009 11:01 am

I take your point, Flamingo. Perhaps my next step should be to get them authenticated, but I wonder whether it is worth doing? I bought the buttons for my own interest, I've worked out that they cost me 64p each, and I'm not planning to sell them on eBay for 99p. The only thing is, I'm intrigued and I want to know!

PS. You say "insured" - you can't be serious?

User avatar
Malcolm
GNR C1 4-4-2
Posts: 732
Joined: Sat Apr 12, 2008 4:22 am
Location: Kuwait

Re: Uniform buttons

Post by Malcolm » Fri Sep 18, 2009 2:47 pm

Maggie wrote:I take your point, Flamingo. Perhaps my next step should be to get them authenticated, but I wonder whether it is worth doing? I bought the buttons for my own interest, I've worked out that they cost me 64p each, and I'm not planning to sell them on eBay for 99p. The only thing is, I'm intrigued and I want to know!

PS. You say "insured" - you can't be serious?
Oh yes, he is. You would be surprised how much collectors would pay for genuine articles, and how much they are actually worth. I used to have the 'Matchbox number 1 toy car' (which was actually a Dennis Fire engine) in mint condition, and gave it away. I have seen collectors offering up four figures for this......and it's tiny.

Malcolm
The world is seldom what we wish it to be, but wishes don't change it.

Post Reply