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Uniform Buttons
Uniform Buttons

Our Collectable Buttons

Most of our uniform buttons are British or British Commonwealth from 1881 to the present - we have some even older antique buttons, plus a good selection of worldwide buttons, especially overseas police and merchant navy tunic buttons.

We are not tailors or military outfitters. The uniform buttons that we sell are mainly ...

Our Collectable Buttons

Most of our uniform buttons are British or British Commonwealth from 1881 to the present - we have some even older antique buttons, plus a good selection of worldwide buttons, especially overseas police and merchant navy tunic buttons.

We are not tailors or military outfitters. The uniform buttons that we sell are mainly official-issue buttons, rather than the special blazer buttons favoured by some Regiments and Corps. Many people do wear ordinary- issue uniform buttons on blazers, but please be aware that there is sometimes a difference. Where we do stock special non-issue blazer buttons they will be clearly marked as blazer buttons, and are often more expensive than issue-pattern buttons.

Vintage buttons are sold for collectors and whilst we may have some in large quantities, many are held as single items. Even the same size and type of button can vary due to age or manufacturing variations. This could be important if you require matching buttons for a uniform or blazer. If you specifically want matching buttons "all or nothing", please make this clear on your order form.

We are sometimes asked simply for a 'set of buttons', without a clue as to the quantity required.  Please note that the number of buttons in a 'set' will vary between different types of jacket.  For example, a double-breasted blazer (boating jacket) will have more buttons that a single-breasted blazer.  If you are trying to replace buttons on a uniform, please tell us the sizes and how many buttons you need rather than expecting us to know the details of the uniform or blazer that you have in your possession.

Uniform Button Sizes & Types

British Army buttons are as varied as cap badges. Each unit has its own unique regimental button, often with a crest and sometimes a crown.  Some regiments have a second design for use on cap buttons.  Most fall into 3 size categories:

Smallabout 14mm diameterfor the cap and mess dress waistcoats (vests).  This size is also used for gorgets (red tabs worn by Generals on the collar).
Mediumabout 19mm diameterfor pockets and shoulder straps (epaulettes) of most parade uniforms, also the front-fastening of Other Ranks Khaki No.2 Dress jackets.
Largeabout 25mm diameterfor the great-coat and the front fastening of Guards' scarlet tunics and Officers' khaki  Service Dress jackets.

Some units have a different range of sizes, such as about 16mm diameter for cuff buttons. We used to annotate these as 'Very-Large', 'Large-Medium' or 'Medium-Small', but for greater accuracy, we now use diameter sizes in millimetres.

Button Ligne - the traditional way of measuring buttons

In British military dress regulations, the diameter of buttons is often measured in 'Lines' or 'Lignes' (abbreviated to 'L'). 40L = 1 inch = 25.4 millimetres. 
We prefer to use millimetres because very few people have a way of measuring Lignes.  Lignes rarely have an exact equivalent in whole millimetres, which is why we round the measurement to the nearest half-millimetre when describing button sizes.

Ligne14L16L18L20L22L24L26L28L30L32L36L40L44L48L
Millimetres91011.51314151618192023252830

Comparative Rarity of British Military Uniform Buttons

There are fewer Officers than Other Ranks, so Officers' buttons are more scarce.  Some sizes of button are rarer than others.  Medium-sized buttons are the most common, and the following is a guide to the rarity of other sizes of British Army button -

  • Screw-fit buttons are the rarest, they are used to secure Officers bullion wire shoulder boards on Number 1 Dress (and perhaps other uniforms such as Mess Dress depending on regimental dress tradition). This means only 2 on each Officer's Number 1 Dress uniform. For most regiments, Number 1 Dress went out routine use at the outbreak of World War 2, and relatively few Officers now possess Number 1 Dress. Screw-fit buttons tend not to be used on Other Ranks' uniforms.
  • Small buttons (15mm and smaller) are fairly scarce. There are only 2 small-sized buttons on a peaked cap - used to secure the chin-strap. (Scots Guards Number 1 Dress Caps do not have chin-straps or buttons). Depending on regimental dress tradition, small buttons are sometimes worn on Mess Dress waistcoats by Officers, Warrant Officers and Senior NCOs.  Small buttons are particularly scarce for Scottish regiments as most of these regiments wear glengarries, Tam o'Shanters, or Atholl bonnets, none of which have cap buttons.
  • Large buttons (23mm and larger) are fairly scarce because they are only worn on the great-coat and the front fastening of Guards scarlet tunics and Officers Service Dress jackets. The great-coat is no longer on general-issue (now only used for 'Public Duties' - the ceremonial guarding of Royal palaces and households). Most Officers' khaki Service Dress jackets have only 4 large buttons. This size of button is much rarer than medium buttons.

British Army Uniform Button Design & Materials

Sometimes the design and materials used for buttons can give a clue as to their age and identity.

  • From 1830 onwards, Regular Army infantry regiments that had been wearing silver buttons changed to gilt buttons and thereafter, silver buttons were mainly worn by Militia and Volunteer regiments, and sometimes by pipers of regular regiments.
  • Other Ranks buttons were made of lead or pewter until 1855 when brass was introduced.
  • Officers' buttons are often made to a higher specification, often gilt, and sometimes 'mounted'. A mounted button is made from more pieces of metal. The regimental badge is made separately and mounted onto a plain domed or flat button. Mounted buttons are real works of art and very expensive to produce - not many Regiments have them.
  • Anodised-Aluminium - known as Staybrite - this was introduced into the British Army about 1950.  Some Staybrite buttons were made with a King's Crowns prior to the death of King George VI in 1952.  With a life-span of just 2 years, King's Crown Staybrite buttons are quite rare.

Other manufacturing materials include:

  • 'white metal' (this is not actually white, but a silver-colour, similar to that used for coins),
  • horn - normally black and used by Rifle Regiments and Gurkhas,
  • plastic,
  • chrome (this is more common for Police, Fire, Ambulance and transport than for the Army),
  • compressed leather - mainly for economy patterns during World War 1 and now quite rare.

British Army Numbered Regimental Buttons

In 1751, British Regiments of Foot (infantry) were numbered; after 1767 these numbers were shown on buttons.  Some of these may be confused with more modern French or Belgian buttons, so look for the maker's name on the back: if it has a French maker, it is probably a French button.

In 1881, the numbering system for regiments was discontinued. Although regimental pattern buttons continued for Officers, Other Ranks wore 'General Service' buttons from 1871 until after the First World War (the same pattern throughout the whole Army). The British Army is full of exceptions, and some regiments permitted NCOs to wear regimental buttons during this period.

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Uniform Buttons 

Subcategories

  • Staybrite Military Uniform Buttons

    Staybrite Military Uniform Clothing Buttons for Sale

    Staybrite (electro-plated Anodised Aluminum) began to replace the traditional metals used for British military uniform clothing buttons from about 1950 and is still used for modern buttons. King George VI died in 1952 so buttons with a King's Crown (KC) are relatively scarce. These Staybrite (Anodised Aluminium) uniform buttons are available to buy and are listed alphabetically by Unit. Numbered regiment buttons are at the beginning.

    In the British Armed Forces, buttons tend to be permanently sewn onto uniform, but some uniforms that require more frequent washing have detachable buttons that are fastened using metal k-clips or button-rings. This might apply to tropical uniforms or chefs' whites.

    Screw-fit buttons are made for the shoulder boards of ceremonial uniforms and are fastened to uniforms using special shoulder shanks, which are sewn onto the shoulder of the uniform. Please note that manufacturers have used different sizes of screw-fitting over the years and we cannot guarantee to have the correct size on stock, particularly for very old screw fit buttons. If you need shoulder shanks, it would be easier to order them at the same time as ordering the screw-fit buttons as we will try to enclose the matching size.

    Due to established practice and customer preference, our stock is sold without fastenings such as button rings, k-grips or shoulder shanks for screw-fit buttons, however these are (usually) available separately.

    Uniform Button Sizes & Types

    British Army buttons are as varied as cap badges. Each unit has its own unique regimental button, often with a crest and sometimes a crown.  Some regiments have a second design for use on cap buttons.  Most fall into 3 size categories:

    Smallabout 14mm diameterfor the cap and mess dress waistcoats (vests).  This size is also used for gorgets (red tabs worn by Generals on the collar).
    Mediumabout 19mm diameterfor pockets and shoulder straps (epaulettes) of most parade uniforms, also the front-fastening of Other Ranks Khaki No.2 Dress jackets.
    Largeabout 25mm diameterfor the great-coat and the front fastening of Guards' scarlet tunics and Officers' khaki  Service Dress jackets.

    Some units have a different range of sizes, such as about 16mm diameter for cuff buttons. We used to annotate these as 'Very-Large', 'Large-Medium' or 'Medium-Small', but for greater accuracy, we now use diameter sizes in millimetres, measured to the nearest half-millimetre.

    Button Ligne - the traditional way of measuring buttons

    In British military dress regulations, the diameter of buttons is often measured in 'Lines' or 'Lignes' (abbreviated to 'L'). 40L = 1 inch = 25.4 millimetres. 
    We prefer to use millimetres because very few people have a way of measuring Lignes.  Lignes rarely have an exact equivalent in whole millimetres, which is why we round the measurement to the nearest half-millimetre when describing button sizes.

    Ligne14L16L18L20L22L24L26L28L30L32L36L40L44L48L
    Millimetres91011.51314151618192023252830

    Comparative Rarity of British Military Uniform Buttons

    There are fewer Officers than Other Ranks, so Officers' buttons are more scarce.  Some sizes of button are rarer than others.  Medium-sized buttons are the most common, and the following is a guide to the rarity of other sizes of British Army button -

    • Screw-fit buttons are the rarest, they are used to secure Officers bullion wire shoulder boards on Number 1 Dress (and perhaps other uniforms such as Mess Dress depending on regimental dress tradition). This means only 2 on each Officer's Number 1 Dress uniform. For most regiments, Number 1 Dress went out routine use at the outbreak of World War 2, and relatively few Officers now possess Number 1 Dress. Screw-fit buttons tend not to be used on Other Ranks' uniforms.
    • Small buttons (15mm and smaller) are fairly scarce. There are only 2 small-sized buttons on a peaked cap - used to secure the chin-strap. (Scots Guards Number 1 Dress Caps do not have chin-straps or buttons). Depending on regimental dress tradition, small buttons are sometimes worn on Mess Dress waistcoats by Officers, Warrant Officers and Senior NCOs.  Small buttons are particularly scarce for Scottish regiments as most of these regiments wear glengarries, Tam o'Shanters, or Atholl bonnets, none of which have cap buttons.
    • Large buttons (23mm and larger) are fairly scarce because they are only worn on the great-coat and the front fastening of Guards scarlet tunics and Officers Service Dress jackets. The great-coat is no longer on general-issue (now only used for 'Public Duties' - the ceremonial guarding of Royal palaces and households). Most Officers' khaki Service Dress jackets have only 4 large buttons. This size of button is much rarer than medium buttons.
  • Older Types of Military Uniform Buttons

    Older Types of Military Uniform Buttons For Sale.

    These are mainly collectible antique and vintage military uniform clothing buttons from the British Royal Navy, Royal Air Force and UK army regimental uniforms, including old military buttons from women's uniform clothing. These buttons are made from older materials such as brass, gilt, white metal,silver-plate, plus plastic and military horn buttons. Some old-style buttons are current issue for those regiments that still use traditional buttons.

    In the British Armed Forces, buttons tend to be permanantly sewn onto uniform, but some uniforms that require more frequent washing have detachable buttons that are fastened using metal k-clips or button-rings. This might apply to tropical uniforms or chefs' whites.

  • Police and Prison Uniform Buttons

    Police Uniform Buttons For Sale

    Modern Police Service uniform clothing buttons tend to be Chromium-plated - this is shown as Chrome in our button catalogues. Older Police Force uniform buttons are made from White Metal (abbreviated to WM in our button catalogues). Some senior Police officers buttons may be silver-plated; particularly those from British colonial police forces. Older Constabulary uniform buttons might also be made from black horn or black plastic - these tend to be for police capes or overcoats; particularly those worn at night.

    To help collectors: 'Ripley' reference numbers are shown from the book 'Police Forces of Great Britain and Ireland - their Amalgamations and their Buttons'. By Howard Ripley (1983).

    Button diameters are shown in millimetres, measured to the nearest half-millimetre.

  • Fire Service Uniform Buttons

    Fire Brigade uniform clothing buttons for sale. During World War 2, Fire Brigades were brought under central Government control (nationalised) in 1941 in order to be able to quickly share resources across the UK. From 1941-1948, all Fire Brigades in the UK wore the same design of NFS (National Fire Service) button. In 1948, Fire Brigades returned to a regional structure under local authority control and adopted separate designs for the buttons and badges of each town and county Fire Service. In 1974 there was a major re-structure of UK counties and the names of many fire brigades changed as a result.

    Most of the buttons on our catalogues are from UK town and county fire brigades and date from 1948 to the present day.

    Fire Brigade buttons tend to be chromium plated - this is shown as chrome on our button catalogues.

    Button diameters are shown in millimetres, measured to the nearest half-millimetre.

  • Civilian Uniform Buttons

    Civil uniform livery clothing buttons for sale from civilian organisations, including town and county councils, Lieutenancy, ambulance services, banks, hunt clubs, commercial, political and fraternal organisations. Coast Guard, Customs and Excise, Royal Household and Diplomatic Corps buttons.

    Button diameters are shown in millimetres, measured to the nearest half-millimetre.

  • Merchant Navy and Shipping Buttons

    Merchant Navy and Shipping Buttons For Sale

    We buy and sell a wide range of collectable uniform clothing buttons for the following types of organisation: Merchant Navy, Mercantile Marine, shipping lines and canals. Our buttons are from many countries but are mainly British buttons.  Our buttons are for sale in various sizes.  Button diameters are shown in millimetres, measured to the nearest half-millimetre.

    Vintage buttons are sold for collectors and whilst we may have some in large quantities, many are held as single items. Even the same size and type of button can vary due to age or manufacturing variations. This could be important if you require matching buttons for a uniform or blazer. If you specifically want to buy matching buttons "all or nothing", please make this clear on your order form.

    We are not manufacturers, tailors or outfitters.  Our main business is with insignia for collectors.  In the ‘chance’ nature of dealing in collectable original items, many items are one-of-a-kind or stocked as single quantities. We cannot ‘buy to order’ or predict future stock: we might not get any for years, or might buy 20 next week.  In the case of one-off items, our advice is to buy whatever you can, whenever you can, as it may be a long time before you get another opportunity.

  • Airline, Road & Railway Buttons

    Airline, Road & Railway Uniform Buttons For Sale

    We buy and sell a wide range of collectable uniform clothing buttons for the following types of organisation: airlines, railways, tramways, motoring organisations, bus and coach companies. Our buttons are for sale in various sizes.  Button diameters are shown in millimetres, measured to the nearest half-millimetre.

    Vintage buttons are sold for collectors and whilst we may have some in large quantities, many are held as single items. Even the same size and type of button can vary due to age or manufacturing variations. This could be important if you require matching buttons for a uniform or blazer. If you specifically want to buy matching buttons "all or nothing", please make this clear on your order form.

    We are not manufacturers, tailors or outfitters.  Our main business is with insignia for collectors.  In the ‘chance’ nature of dealing in collectable original items, many items are one-of-a-kind or stocked as single quantities. We cannot ‘buy to order’ or predict future stock: we might not get any for years, or might buy 20 next week.  In the case of one-off items, our advice is to buy whatever you can, whenever you can, as it may be a long time before you get another opportunity.

  • Yacht and Boat Club Jacket Buttons

    Yacht Club Buttons For Sale

    Yacht clubs, boat clubs, rowing clubs and sailing clubs have been in existence since about the year 1720 and many have their own design of jacket button for blazers, boating jackets and formal evening wear. These clothing buttons are now very collectable. Most of the buttons in our catalogue date from the days of Queen Victoria to the present day.

    Button diameters are shown in millimetres, measured to the nearest half-millimetre.