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  #1  
Old 23-02-16, 11:49 AM
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Default Gaunt Buttons

Hello good people from the world of buttons. I have a probably simple and possibly silly question:

for the period covering the Great War, (and I understand button designs can span decades) did Gaunt make all/most regimental buttons? Primarily I am interested in the line regiments and Corps - such as Machine Gun, RFC etc.

Many thanks for any info

Cheers, Tim
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  #2  
Old 23-02-16, 11:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chipper View Post
Hello good people from the world of buttons. I have a probably simple and possibly silly question:

for the period covering the Great War, (and I understand button designs can span decades) did Gaunt make all/most regimental buttons? Primarily I am interested in the line regiments and Corps - such as Machine Gun, RFC etc.

Many thanks for any info

Cheers, Tim
Hi Tim

In a word "no"!. They did produce a considerable quantity of buttons but there were many manufacturers during that period. It also depends to some extent whether you mean Officers or O/R's buttons. They produced both but possibly more O/R's than many other makers, at a guess. Also, bear in mind most O/R's of line regiments wore general service (royal arms) buttons at the time.

David

PS..... a word of caution - be wary of any large size buttons purporting to be WW1 period and which have a "GAUNT // LONDON" backmark, they may well be 1970's restrikes.
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  #3  
Old 23-02-16, 12:08 PM
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Originally Posted by davidwyke View Post
Hi Tim

In a word "no"!. They did produce a considerable quantity of buttons but there were many manufacturers during that period. It also depends to some extent whether you mean Officers or O/R's buttons. They produced both but possibly more O/R's than many other makers, at a guess. Also, bear in mind most O/R's of line regiments wore general service (royal arms) buttons at the time.

David

PS..... a word of caution - be wary of any large size buttons purporting to be WW1 period and which have a "GAUNT // LONDON" backmark, they may well be 1970's restrikes.
Thanks David. Sorry, I left out some info! Primarily I am looking at officers guilt buttons. I have seen 4 major back marks so far (and this is just my observation), being:

J.R GAUNT & SON LONDON
J.R GAUNT & SON Ltd LONDON
J.R GAUNT & SON Ltd LONDON ENGd
J.R GAUNT & SON Ltd LONDON ENGld

There appear to be dots under the lower case letters, but hard to tell from pics.

Thanks for the info

Cheers, Tim
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  #4  
Old 23-02-16, 12:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chipper View Post
Thanks David. Sorry, I left out some info! Primarily I am looking at officers guilt buttons. I have seen 4 major back marks so far (and this is just my observation), being:

J.R GAUNT & SON LONDON
J.R GAUNT & SON Ltd LONDON
J.R GAUNT & SON Ltd LONDON ENGd
J.R GAUNT & SON Ltd LONDON ENGld

There appear to be dots under the lower case letters, but hard to tell from pics.

Thanks for the info

Cheers, Tim
Hi Tim

You should be OK, as regards authenticity, with all the above.

As regards manufacturers of Officers buttons during WW1 period - Gaunts and quite a few others such as Jennens, Firmin, etc.

David
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  #5  
Old 23-02-16, 12:24 PM
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Cribyn Cribyn is offline
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Hello Tim

Gaunt used a large variety of backmarks over the years and it is very difficult to pin any down to a precise period (unlike some other makers who changed addresses and used these as backmarks).

The backmarks you list are all consistent with a First World War time period in my view but they were used both before and after the war, so it would be almost impossible to link one particular button to the war using a backmark.

The more information on the backmark, the earlier it tends to be. As David pointed out Gaunt were using a simple 'Gaunt London' backmark in the 1970s at the time they reproduced so many buttons and this is a dead give away when seen on buttons purporting to be First World War period - Royal Munster Fusiliers and Royal Dublin Fusiliers are two that instantly spring to mind but there are many, many more.

Stick with J' R Gaunt & Son' and variations thereof and you can't go far wrong.

Regards
Roger
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  #6  
Old 23-02-16, 12:47 PM
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Just to follow on from the above. The backmarks you have listed highlight an important point relating to backmarks in general.

The first one is without "Ltd". Gaunts became a limited company in 1899 (at least I think it was 1899, I'm not at home and can't check - Roger will shout at me if it's the wrong date! ) It's easy to assume that because there is no "Ltd" then the button must pre-date 1899. Not so, they continued to use that backmark for many years, alongside those which included "Ltd".

The point I'm trying to make is that while backmarks can be very useful in dating buttons, it's best not to place too much emphasis on the exact wording.

David

Having said the above, it's certainly true that Gaunts didn't use "Gaunt / London" on large size buttons until long after WW1. There is much debate as to when it was first used, some would say as early as mid 1940's, others no earlier than c.1950. It certainly wasn't used on any genuine large size buttons of the disbanded (1922) Irish Regiments.

Last edited by davidwyke; 23-02-16 at 12:55 PM.
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  #7  
Old 23-02-16, 12:51 PM
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Many thanks to both of you gentlemen.

I have been kicking tyres trying to gather some knowledge, and very much appreciate both of your advice.

I realised early on that there is no such thing as a "Great War button" for most regiments, and so I think I will be looking at buttons that simply have WW1 inside their timeline. I grabbed a copy of Howard Ripley's book, which has been great as well.

So again, thanks, and like Roy, I'm hooked. Just don't tell my wife.....

Cheers, Tim
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  #8  
Old 23-02-16, 03:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davidwyke View Post
Just to follow on from the above. The backmarks you have listed highlight an important point relating to backmarks in general.

The first one is without "Ltd". Gaunts became a limited company in 1899 (at least I think it was 1899, I'm not at home and can't check - Roger will shout at me if it's the wrong date! ) It's easy to assume that because there is no "Ltd" then the button must pre-date 1899. Not so, they continued to use that backmark for many years, alongside those which included "Ltd".

The point I'm trying to make is that while backmarks can be very useful in dating buttons, it's best not to place too much emphasis on the exact wording.

David

Having said the above, it's certainly true that Gaunts didn't use "Gaunt / London" on large size buttons until long after WW1. There is much debate as to when it was first used, some would say as early as mid 1940's, others no earlier than c.1950. It certainly wasn't used on any genuine large size buttons of the disbanded (1922) Irish Regiments.
"The first one is without "Ltd". Gaunts became a limited company in 1899 (at least I think it was 1899, I'm not at home and can't check" - Spot on, David!

I am not sure if this is the place to start a debate on the 'Gaunt London' backmark but I would love to hear other views on when they started using this backmark - and this applies, of course, to large size buttons only.

There are many King's crown buttons with the 'Gaunt London' backmark and because many of them are known to be 1970s reproductions (the 'Gaunt London' 24th Lancers and 27th Lancers are obvious examples of non-genuine ones) it is often assumed that all King's crown buttons with 'Gaunt London' are 1970s reproductions. However, nobody seems to know exactly what Gaunt did reproduce in 1970. I have often heard it said that it was the war-time raised cavalry units (two of them mentioned above), the Irish Regiments disbanded in 1922 and those of the cavalry regiments amalgamated in the 1920s and other 'sought after' buttons - the latter without any further explanation. I have seen many Yeomanry buttons with a King's crown and 'Gaunt London' that I would almost certainly guarantee to be 1970s manufacture.

However, I have some King's crown Royal Air Force buttons marked 'Gaunt London' and I find it hard to believe that Gaunt would go to the trouble of reproducing such a common and hardly 'sought after' RAF button in the 1970s! This would seem to suggest that they were using the 'Gaunt London' backmark before 1952 or thereabouts.

Does anyone have a definitive list of what Gaunt did produce in the 1970s or any other thoughts on the matter?

Roger
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  #9  
Old 23-02-16, 04:15 PM
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I for one, would be fascinated to hear what everyone has to say. The more info the better I say!

And at the very least, we get to talk about buttons, a subject I shamefully dismissed when I started collecting British badges, so it's a win win for me...

Cheers, Tim
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  #10  
Old 23-02-16, 05:59 PM
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Hi Chaps

As regards when Gaunts first used the "Gaunt / London" backmark on large size buttons.

Some people say it's as early as 1945 but that's probably because they would like the war-raised cavalry buttons with this backmark to be genuine.

Others would say post 1952 but this is very unlikely as there are numerous KC buttons with this backmark which are almost certainly genuine; some of them, as Roger says, are very common today and would have been even more so when the repros were produced.

In my opinion, the backmark was probably introduced c. 1949/1950.

As regards the 1970's repros - It's often said the first ones to be made were all the disbanded Irish Regts but the only two I can recall seeing are RMF & RDF. Some Yeomanry Regts were produced (Worcestershire is a common one), some line regts (Scottish & Irish regts seem to turn up most frequently), some Cavalry. Probably some Indian Army buttons also - some of the post 1922 regts have this backmark and at least some have the tell-tale signs of the repros.

There are several tell-tale signs which often mark out the repros but it will probably only confuse matters to list them as they can also appear on genuine buttons. However, the most common one (other than the backmark) is the poor quality "gilt" finish which the repros often have

I have been told that Gaunts produced the buttons in response to a specific request and that there was a production run of 500 (large size) for each of the buttons. The best list of them would be the postal sales list which they were sold from!

David

PS.... something important to remember about these 1970's repros and, even more so, the repros of pre 1881 line regt buttons - they are almost always offered for sale as genuine, even by respected dealers; probably more through lack of knowledge than anything.

Last edited by davidwyke; 23-02-16 at 06:32 PM.
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  #11  
Old 25-02-16, 08:50 AM
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Hello David

Many thanks for the input.

I note your comment "I have been told that Gaunts produced the buttons in response to a specific request and that there was a production run of 500 (large size) for each of the buttons". Very interesting as I was told years ago that the impetus for the reproductions came not from Gaunts themselves but from Gwen Squire, the button book author. She is supposed to have persuaded Gaunts to issue the reproductions, although, once again, I have never seen any real confirmation of this, so possibly it is just another rumour. However, her book "Buttons A Guide For Collectors" was published in 1972 and she would have been working on it for a few years previously, so she would have been in contact with Gaunts at about the right time.

I would dearly love to see any list of those buttons they reproduced as this would obviously answer a whole host of questions! Surely someone, somewhere must have this information?

As for the date the 'Gaunt London' backmark was introduced, you said "In my opinion, the backmark was probably introduced c. 1949/1950." This is the conclusion I have always leaned towards. As with most other changes I suspect they continued to use 'old' and 'new' backmarks alongside each other for a good few years, just to confuse future collectors!

Roger
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  #12  
Old 25-02-16, 09:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cribyn View Post
Hello David

Many thanks for the input.

... Very interesting as I was told years ago that the impetus for the reproductions came not from Gaunts themselves but from Gwen Squire, the button book author. She is supposed to have persuaded Gaunts to issue the reproductions, although, once again, I have never seen any real confirmation of this, so possibly it is just another rumour. However, her book "Buttons A Guide For Collectors" was published in 1972 and she would have been working on it for a few years previously, so she would have been in contact with Gaunts at about the right time.

I would dearly love to see any list of those buttons they reproduced as this would obviously answer a whole host of questions! Surely someone, somewhere must have this information?

Roger
I have heard the same rumours. I cannot confirm them. Somewhere in my paper files are her old sales lists from the 1970s. Her service was excellent. She struggled with her book because no publisher wanted it and in the end she financed it herself.
I contacted her a couple of years ago and got the impression she was not happy with button collectors. She was one of the early members of the British Button Society, but cancelled her membership many years ago.

Re 'reproductions': Gaunt was a commercial enterprise. The dies were theirs and I do not think the designs were copyright protected. All they needed was approval to supply badges and buttons to the government. If a private party puts in an order for items they can supply, then who is going to stop them? If a trader is able to sell items and make money from them, who is going to stop him?
We can wail, complain and harass people, but we have chosen to collect commercially produced objects ourselves. We need to learn ourselves to distinguish genuine items from cheap reproductions. This forum and its experienced members (e.g. Andy) are of great help.

I regret I cannot contribute to the "Gaunt, London" query. My records are on 'backmark per design' and not per size or individual button.
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  #13  
Old 25-02-16, 09:45 AM
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With reference to the 1970s fake/restrike "Gaunt London" buttons,

When I was a kid around 1980 we used to travel to East Sussex from Devon to visit the family in the School summer holidays, and we regularly had a stop at Newhaven Fort on the way. The Museum shop had a row of jars half full of these buttons and I used to spend my pocket money on them.

From memory I think they were all large size, and were about 1.50 each.

I still have the following.

RHG QC post 1952 26mm
3rd Carabiniers 26mm
24th Lancers KC 26mm
27th Lancers KC 25mm
DCLI 26mm (This one I may have bought elsware at a later date?)
Seaforth Highlanders 26mm
Argyle & Sutherland Highlanders 25mm
Royal Dublin Fusiliers KC 26mm
Royal Munster Fusiliers 26mm

And I'm sure I had a large pre 1909 KC Worcestershire Regiment but I can't find it now.

If only 500 hundred of each were made I guess that makes them rarer than originals?

Rob
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Old 25-02-16, 10:04 AM
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I got mine from militaria shops in London.

I remember a lady with a bathtub full of anodised buttons. She also had bags and bags of anodised badges. She said 'collectors do not want these'. I can still draw the floorplan, but I have forgotten the location of the shop.

On Portobello Road I declined to buy two 1800s Royal Navy admiral's buttons for a pound each. I did not know what they were, how old they were and one shank was missing. I do not know if they were repros from the 1900s or the real thing, but it still hurts. I need to learn more and educate myself to become a better collector.

Rob: 1,50 apiece? You had a lot of pocket money and the museum shop was very expensive.
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  #15  
Old 25-02-16, 11:17 AM
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Hi Chaps

Some very interesting posts there.

As regards who commissioned Gaunts to manufacture the re-strikes (and I think we can call them re-strikes as I believe they were produced from the original dies), the above comments are probably not far off the mark.

The buttons which Rob has listed are certainly all well known to have been produced as Gaunt restrikes (except maybe the QC RHG, can't remember about that one off-hand).

The restrikes/repros are, in theory, rarer than the originals but to my mind certainly not as desirable and not usually of the same quality. Personally, I would much rather have a "common" original than a "rare" restrike!

David
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