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At first, buttons consisted of white metal, usually with a rose in the centre.

In 1774 a foul anchor surrounded by rope edging took the place of the rose and in 1787 the same device with the addition of a wreath of laurel leaves was adopted for Admirals. When the Merchant Navy started to use the foul anchor device, a crown was added for all naval officers in 1812. The same basic design remains in use today.

The foul anchor device itself was first recorded in use in the seal of the Lord High Admiral of Scotland in 1402. It was subsequently adopted in the Admiralty seal and by a large number of navies throughout the world. The rope 'fouling' has no specific twist and may be deemed to be correct however it fits around the anchor

 

 

 

Great electronic on line reference Navy books written by:

Tim Burt
Hamwic House
Box 895
Elora
Ontario
Canada - N0B 1S0

He has written 19 Books on Tunic Buttons of all types. Contact him on info@hamwichouse.com to order a copy.

 

RN Captain - 1757
( Dress )
In Æ Gilt or Silver Gilt
In use 1757 - 1774

 

 

Royal Navy Lieutenant - 1748

RN Flag Officer - 1748
Full Dress - 1748 - 1767
G. P. Dress - 1748 - 1783
Full & Undress - 1748 - 1787

In 1774 a fouled anchor, plain edge or surrounded by rope edging, took the place of the Rose and in 1787, the same design, with the addition of a wreath of laurel leaves, was adopted for the Admirals.

 

 

 

Capt / Commander - 1774-1787
RN Master & Mate - 1787-1807
RN Surgeon - 1787-1805
RN Purser - 1787-1807
RN Warrant Officer - 1787-1860
RN Midshipman - 1787-1812
RN Volunteer Gr.I - 1787-1812
RN Instructors - 1727-1842
RN Engineer 1st Cl. - 1837-1841
Var. 01 . . . 1774 - 1860
In use 1774 - 1860

Unknown 18thC Royal Navy button

MS either side of anchor

 

 

 


Britain - Canada
Merchant Navy
Private Purchase - 1774-1812

RN Capt / Commander - 1787
RN Lieutenant - 1787

 

 

1900's Generic Merchant Navy Officers

 
RN Greenwich Hospital Service
Officer's Hospital Staff Tunic
Button
In use 1800 - 1815
RN Greenwich Hospital Service
Officer's Hospital Staff Tunic
Button
In use 1814 - 1868
RN Greenwich Hospital Service
Officer's Hospital Staff Tunic
Button
In use 1814 - 1868
 

Navy Hospital buttons

RN Master buttons

RN Master - 1807-1825
RN Ass't Master - 1807-1825
RN Volunteer Gr.II - 1824-1825
In use 1807 - 1825


Note: Anchors below stock

 

RN Purser buttons

RN Purser - 1807
In use 1807 - 1825
In Gilt

Very interesting Navy button with crossed swords - unknown ?


RN Flag Officer - 1795
Var. 02 . . . 1795 - 1807
In Gilt
Type as worn by
Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson
RN Capt / Commander - 1787
RN Lieutenant - 1787
RN Surgeon - 1807
In use 1807 - 1812
RN Capt / Commander - 1787
RN Lieutenant - 1787
RN Capt / Commander - 1787
RN Lieutenant - 1787
RN Capt / Commander - 1787
RN Lieutenant - 1787

Not in reference books

It's to the  Preventive Water Guard - established in 1809. The coast of Britain was divided into three divisions, Carlisle to Landsend, Landsend to North Foreland and North Foreland to Berwick. Naval Officers with the title of Inspecting Captains were appointed to each division and given command of a small fleet. In 1816 the Preventive Water Guard was made responsible to the treasury. The Preventive Water Guard operated in coastal waters to tackle smugglers who evaded revenue cruisers. If the weather was rough, they operated from the shore. All recruitment was from demobilised Royal Navy sailors.
Credit to Steve Newman of the British Military Buttons website for the info.

 

       
With Crown buttons

RN Flag Officer - 1827
Right Leaning Stock
In use 1827 - 1843

Victoria crown

Royal Navy - Officers (Roped Rim) Unlined Background 23mm - 1891-1901

Victoria crown

1827 Captains one piece Naval button(b)

Royal Navy - Officers (Roped Rim) Lined Background 17.5mm - 1843-1891

Victoria crown


RN Capt / Commander - 1901
Other Ship's Officers - 1901
In use 1901 - 1952

Kings crown

RN Capt / Commander - 1843
RN Lietenant - 1843
RN Master - 1843
RN Surgeon - 1843
RN Purser - 1843
RN Midshipman - 1843
RN Warrant Officer - 1843

Victoria crown

1843- 1890


Unusual Navy button - not recorded

XX ?


RN - Royal Naval Reserve

Captain & other Officers

In use 1886 - 1901


RN Capt / Commander - 1901
Other Ship's Officers - 1901
In use 1901 - 1952

Royal Navy -1824 issue
Late 18thC Navy cufflink
Admiralty Civil Police
In use 1940 - 1949
became the Admiralty
Constabulary in 1949
RN Air Service

In use WWI

Officers Tunic Button

RN Flag Officer - 1827
Right Leaning Stock

RN Capt / Commander - 1812
RN Lieutenant - 1812
RN Midshipman - 1812
RN Volunteer Gr.I - 1812
After this issue a Midshipman
will have the Captain's style

)

RN Capt / Commander - 1812 RN Capt / Commander - 1812
RN Capt / Commander - 1825
RN Lieutenant - 1825
RN Midshipman - 1825
In use 1825 - 1827
RN Capt / Commander - 1825
RN Navigation Branch - 1825
In use 1825 - 1832
In Gilt

RN Capt / Commander - 1891

RN Capt / Commander - 1901
Other Ship's Officers - 1901
In use 1901 - 1952

19thC Royal navy button

Legend Royal *****


RN Flag Officer - 1827
Left Leaning Stock
In use 1827 - 1843
RN Capt / Commander - 1825
RN Lieutenant - 1825
RN Midshipman - 1825
In use 1825 - 1827
R.N.V.R.
Royal Naval Volunteer
 Reserve
In use 1901 - 1952
       
RN Capt / Commander - 1891 RN Capt / Commander - 1825
RN Lieutenant - 1825
RN Midshipman - 1825
In use 1825 - 1827
Royal Yacht Squadron RYS - RN Master - 1807-1825

 

Honourable East India Company Navy button
RN Capt / Commander - 1787
RN Lieutenant - 1787
Very large 1901 to 1952 Royal Navy button Royal Navy - Officers (Roped Rim) Lined Background 1843-1891  

Royal Marines

In 1855 the whole marine corps took the name Royal Marine Light Infantry (Red Marines). In 1859 a separate Division of Royal Marine Artillery (Blue Marines) was formed, but in 1923 the two merged to become the single corps of Royal Marines.

During World War I, in addition to their usual stations aboard ship, Royal Marines were part of the Royal Naval Division which landed in Belgium in 1914 to help defend Antwerp and later took part in the amphibious landing at Gallipoli in 1915. It also served on the Western Front in the trenches.

1955 Royal Marines Light infantry button 1902-1923 WWI Royal Marines Light infantry button - Kings crown Re 1901 Royal Marines Light infantry button - Victoria crown
Re 1901 Royal Marines Light infantry button - Victoria crown
1902- 1923 WWI Royal Marines button - Kings crown 1902- 1923 WWI Royal Marines button - Kings crown 1902- 1923 WWI Royal Marines button - Kings crown 1902- 1923 WWI Royal Marines button - Kings crown
1902-1923 WWI Royal Marines Light infantry button - Kings crown Re 1901 Royal Marines Light infantry button - Victoria crown 1902- 1923 WWI Royal Marines button - Kings crown Re 1901 Royal Marines Light infantry button - Victoria crown
1902- 1923 WWI Royal Marines button - Kings crown 1902- 1923 WWI Royal Marines button - Kings crown 1902- 1923 WWI Royal Marines button - Kings crown Re 1901 Royal Marines Light infantry button - Victoria crown
 
1902-1923 WWI Royal Marines Light infantry button - Kings crown 1902-1923 Royal Marine artillery button- Kings crown 1902-1923 Royal Marine artillery button- Kings crown  

H.M. Coast Guard
O/R's Button
In use 1820 - 1836 ?

 

 


 
UNITED KINGDOM
Royal London Yacht Club
R. T. Y. C. - R. T. Y. C.
London, England
In use 1837 - 1901
Royal Northern Yacht Club
Glasgow, Scotland
In use 1837 - 1901
UNITED KINGDOM
Royal Victoria Yacht Club
Ryde, IOW, UK
2nd Pattern Button
In use 1845 - 1901
UNITED KINGDOM
Royal London Yacht Club
R. T. Y. C. - R. T. Y. C.
London, England
In use 1837 - 1901

UNITED KINGDOM
Royal London Yacht Club
R. T. Y. C. - R. T. Y. C.
London, England
In use 1837 - 1901

19thC Royal Victoria Yacht Club

Firmin & Sons

London

UNITED KINGDOM
Royal London Yacht Club
R. T. Y. C. - R. T. Y. C.
London, England
In use 1837 - 1901
19thC Northern Yacht Club button
19thC Royal Victoria Yacht Club button
UNITED KINGDOM
Royal London Yacht Club
R. T. Y. C. - R. T. Y. C.
London, England
In use 1837 - 1901
UNITED KINGDOM
Royal London Yacht Club
R. T. Y. C. - R. T. Y. C.
London, England
In use 1837 - 1901
UNITED KINGDOM
Royal London Yacht Club
R. T. Y. C. - R. T. Y. C.
London, England
In use 1837 - 1901

Royal Western Yacht club

In use 1845 - 1901

UNITED KINGDOM
Royal London Yacht Club
R. T. Y. C. - R. T. Y. C.
London, England
In use 1837 - 1901
UNITED KINGDOM
Royal London Yacht Club
R. T. Y. C. - R. T. Y. C.
London, England
In use 1837 - 1901
Junior Thames Yacht club
1837 -1901 Royal Thames Yacht club 1837 -1901 Royal Victoria Yacht club button 1837 -1901 Royal Victoria Yacht club
1837 -1901 Royal Harwich yacht club UNITED KINGDOM
Royal London Yacht Club
R. T. L. C. - R. T. L. C.
London, England
In use 1837 - 1901
1837 -1901 Royal Eastern Yacht club 1837 -1901 Royal London Yacht Club button
     
1837 -1901 Royal Harwich yacht club
     

Yacht clubs

One piece Navy buttons

HONI SOIT QUI MAN Y PENSE

PACKET

Honi soit qui mal y pense (Old French: shame upon him who thinks evil of it)

RN - Packet Service
( Mail & Supplies Delivery )

c.1800-1811
Firmin & Co

RN - Packet Service

 
19thC Customs button
19thC customs button
19thC Customs button
 

Customs button

Napoleonic Navy button
Netherlands
Royal Netherlands Navy

Engineering

From 1890

WWII German Navy Kriegsmarine Button Neat 1820 USA navy cuff button
'Further research on this button reveals this button appears to be relate the French 2nd Empire. My sample is of French Maritime Customs. Note the similarity'.
French Navy - 1920's
WWII German Navy Kreigsmarine Button

 

WWII German Navy Kriegsmarine Button

French Navy - 1870's

US Navy button ID'd

AUSTRIA
MN Generic Issue
In use 1880 - 1918
Ship's Officer Button
Maker - Unknown
Shipping line button Alloy Navy badge ?? Unknown Continental Navy button
WWII German Navy Kriegsmarine Button

WWII French Navy button

Back mark , M &CE Paris

WWII German Navy Kriegsmarine Button
WWII German Navy Kriegsmarine Button

USA Marines button

Boston Elevated Bowe & Seligman as a backmark from 1880's to 1920

USA Marine button

1941 - 1960

German navy pre 1918
French Navy
WWII German Navy Kreigsmarine Button
Austria-Hungary
Austria-Hungary Navy
1918 - 1920s
Austria-Hungary
Austria-Hungary Navy
1918 - 1920s
Austria-Hungary
Austria-Hungary Navy
1918 - 1920s
 
Spain 1812-1820s
Unknown

Austria-Hungary

Austria-Hungary Navy

1918 - 1920s

 

 

Foreign Navy buttons

19thC Great Eastern Railways and Steam ships company button MN - G & J Burns Ltd In use 1842 - 1922 19thC Cunard Line button Unknown shipping line button
Britain - Canada
Merchant Navy
Private Purchase - 1774-1812
UNITED KINGDOM
MN - G & J Burns Ltd.
In use 1842 - 1922
Honourable East India Company Honourable East India Company
UNITED KINGDOM MN - G & J Burns Ltd. In use 1842
UNITED KINGDOM
P&O Line 
In use 1920 - 1940s
Maker - Unknown
P&O Line
In use 1920 - 1940s
Maker - Unknown

Britain's Merchant Navy
Generic Design Issue
In use 1900 - 2000's

Bliss Bros Ltd

Rd 665050

Britain's Merchant Navy
Generic Design Issue
In use 1900 - 2000's

Bliss Bros Ltd

Rd 665050

1950 - 1990s period
P/O or Crew
Possible Muslim Bloc

BELGIUM

Red Star line 1900 - 1950's

Britain's Merchant Navy
Generic Design Issue
In use 1900 - 2000's

Bliss Bros Ltd

Rd 665050

Britain's Merchant Navy
Generic Design Issue
In use 1900 - 2000's

Bliss Bros Ltd

Unknown shipping line button
UNITED KINGDOM
MN - G & J Burns Ltd.
In use 1842 - 1922
MN - Anchor Line
In use 1900 - 1960s
Maker - Waterbury
P&O Line
In use 1920 - 1940s
Maker - Unknown
Shipping line
P&O Line
In use 1920 - 1940s
Maker - Unknown
Surrey commercial docks

 

UNITED KINGDOM
C & D Line Ltd.
Commonwealth &
Dominion Line
In use 1914 - 1937 ?

Britain's Merchant Navy
Generic Design Issue
In use 1900 - 2000's

Bliss Bros Ltd

Rd 665050

CANADA
Canadian Pacific SS Line
In use 1901 - 1930's
Early Version
Maker - Unknown

Britain's Merchant Navy
Generic Design Issue
In use 1900 - 2000's

Bliss Bros Ltd

Rd 665050

MN - Anchor Line
In use 1900 - 1960s
Maker - Waterbury
UNITED KINGDOM
Castle Mail Packet
Company
In use 1869 - 1899
Maker - Unknown
Merged - Union Castle Line 1899

Union Castle Line
In use 1899 onwards
CANADA
Canadian Pacific SS Line
In use 1901 - 1930's
Early Version
Maker - Unknown

Bristol Docks Authority
In use 1820 - 1992
UNITED KINGDOM
Nourse Line
In use 1860 - 1917
IRELAND
James P. Corry & Cº
In use 1860 - 1920
Ship's Officer Button
Honourable East India Company
 
Honourable East India Company Honour East India Company button Britain - Canada
Merchant Navy
Private Purchase - 1774-1812
 

19thC Cinque Ports button

The Confederation of Cinque Ports is a historic series of coastal towns in Kent and Sussex. It was originally formed for military and trade purposes, but is now entirely ceremonial. It lies at the eastern end of the English Channel, where the crossing to the continent is narrowest.

The name is Norman French, meaning "five ports".

Shipping line and docks buttons

Trinity House
UK Lighthouse Authoruty
Pilot's Tunic Button
In use 1900 - 1930s
"Trinity House Pilot"

 

Trinity House

Not known Royal Navy button Navy button ?

Navy button - similar to Trinity House pilot

Could be livery

Navy button or dress ?
 
 
Navy livery button ?  
 
       
       

 

 

 

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