Mystery British Rev War and Colonial Mix

Lost Signal

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Went back to the same site where mbcuce and I found the matching 64th Reg. buttons last week. (He posted them already.) Today I found a few interesting things, including part of the smallest folding knife I think I've seen and an oval pewter buckle with tongue still in place.

But, the find that I'm most curious about is the pewter button with a British crown and maybe some kind of animal. I would think that it would be military, but maybe not. I've searched every book and resource I can find, with no luck. I've included multiple views, hoping that someone might be able to figure out the writing.

Thanks for looking.
group obverse.jpg
group reverse.jpg
button views.jpg
 
Upvote 21
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Lost Signal

Lost Signal

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Really cool find. My research shows the Governor of Jamaica sending folks to the Charleston after the siege trying to conscript people into service. That would line up with the 64th regiment being in that same area around that time. Would love to know the whole story.
There were also many planters, who started out in Jamaica and then resettled in the SC Lowcountry. Not that it necessarily belonged to one of them, but the connection was there.
 

CRUSADER

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Went back to the same site where mbcuce and I found the matching 64th Reg. buttons last week. (He posted them already.) Today I found a few interesting things, including part of the smallest folding knife I think I've seen and an oval pewter buckle with tongue still in place.

But, the find that I'm most curious about is the pewter button with a British crown and maybe some kind of animal. I would think that it would be military, but maybe not. I've searched every book and resource I can find, with no luck. I've included multiple views, hoping that someone might be able to figure out the writing.

Thanks for looking.
View attachment 1995994 View attachment 1995995 View attachment 1995996
One thing I'm sure about, it will turn out to be at least Very Rare. Make sure you preserve it.
 
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Lost Signal

Lost Signal

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One thing I'm sure about, it will turn out to be at least Very Rare. Make sure you preserve it.
Thanks, Cru. I agree. It's sealed up with a water and white glue mixture.

I'm hoping to have Don Troiani weigh in. I saw, on his FB, that he recently completed a painting of a War of 1812 soldier from a regiment of the West Indies.
 

Bramblefind

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I found another posted on Worthpoint -the seller was not sure what it is. But the edge legend is clearer. Maybe it reads "Nil Desperandum" --- ? That is a motto that is seen on other crests etc.

 

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Hunk-a-lead

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Went back to the same site where mbcuce and I found the matching 64th Reg. buttons last week. (He posted them already.) Today I found a few interesting things, including part of the smallest folding knife I think I've seen and an oval pewter buckle with tongue still in place.

But, the find that I'm most curious about is the pewter button with a British crown and maybe some kind of animal. I would think that it would be military, but maybe not. I've searched every book and resource I can find, with no luck. I've included multiple views, hoping that someone might be able to figure out the writing.

Thanks for looking.
View attachment 1995994 View attachment 1995995 View attachment 1995996
great saves, wtg!
 
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Lost Signal

Lost Signal

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I found another posted on Worthpoint -the seller was not sure what it is. But the edge legend is clearer. Maybe it reads "Nil Desperandum" --- ? That is a motto that is seen on other crests etc.

Man! Thank you for taking the challenge! I don't think I've ever spent so much time looking for something online, and I could not find anything. Having the text is huge. I'll bet if I ever do zero in on the exact ID, it will be because of that motto.

Don Troiani was kind enough to look at it, and he also said Jamaican Militia. He thinks it's probably War of 1812.

I'm still determined to know how it got there, but as Mr. Troiani suggested, it might have just been someone wearing a used garment with a button from another time and place.

But, even that scenario would have an interesting story.

Thanks again, Bramblefind.
 

Red-Coat

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Great find. For sure that's going to be a rare button. I have some random comments and observations.

Jamaica has no alligators… only crocodiles (one species), so that’s what the emblem is. It has a long history of association with Jamaica, having been jncluded as the crest for the colony’s armorial granted by Royal Warrant on 3rd February 1661. The original design had the crocodile on a log “fesse” (laying horizontally) but the log has not always been included on later representations. It's not seen on this one from 1687 for example:

1687.jpg

Jamaica was the first British colony to receive its own arms under Royal Warrant and the armorial was given the distinction of being crowned with a Royal Helmet and the Mantlings of the British Monarchy.

The original motto on the arms was INDUS UTERQUE SERVIET UNI (literally "The two Indians will serve as one", or "Both Indies will serve Together") in reference to the collective servitude of the Taino and Arawak Indians to the colonisers. The Latin version was replaced in 1962 by what was deemed to be a more politically acceptable English equivalent as "Out of Many, One People".

The crown on the button is of a style not used for official purposes beyond 1901. Were crowns of this type used on livery buttons? Yes, but not on family buttons, although quite possibly on livery crests granted to companies/services at civic level (livery is not confined to family heritage), or for government organisations and services, both military and uniformed non-military.

The “rope border thing” referred to by Crusader in post #16 is a “torse”… a twisted wreath of silver (or white) and red silk depicted edgewise, either straight, or more usually with slight curvature, like this:

Heraldic Torse.jpg

In heraldry, it separates the top of the helmet on an armorial from the base of the crest, masking the join between them and holding the mantling in place. When seen only with the crest (as for the crocodile on the button) it usually means the depicted crest is not a standalone emblem, but part of a full armorial for which the other elements have been intentionally omitted (eg because of space limitations or for other reasons).

The button motto does seem to be “NIL DESPERANDUM” (Never Despair). That has never been an official Jamaican motto, but was the motto accompanying the armorial of at least two prominent families in Jamaica… the Sampson family and the Knill family, although neither used the crocodile as an emblem for their personal crests. The army regulars and local recruits (such as the “Accompong Maroons”) on the island were supported by militia groups under the control of plantation owners (eg by Colonel William Grignon, who ran several estates), so that creates a possibility for either the Sampsons or the Knills to have had such a group under their control. There was a general mobilisation of militia groups to help put down the armed rebellion of some 60,000 slaves in 1831/2.

One other possibility sprang to mind. On 11th December 1882 the Jamaican capital, Kingston, suffered a great disaster. A disgruntled employee of the Alexander Feurtado Lumber Company, Edward Foster, set fire to his employer’s premises and the out-of-control blaze pretty much destroyed half the city, including a large portion of its business district. Some 6,000 people were left homeless, official premises/city services destroyed and many businessmen ruined. In the aftermath of the fire, the phrase “Nil Desperandum” was seemingly adopted as a motto by many of those determined to rebuild what they or the city had lost.

For example, the “Jamaica Gleaner” newspaper of 10th March 1883 reported (in relation to a grocer and druggist advertising with them): “We are pleased to see that Mr. Samuel R. Da Costa of 119 Harbour Street, has adopted the principle expressed in the heading of his advertisement, Nil Desperandum, and has determined not to sit down and weep over spilt milk. He has re-opened with a large supply of articles of household necessity, and will endeavour by perseverance and pluck to regain at least a portion of the loss which has overtaken him, as well as numerous other of his fellow citizens. We wish Mr. Da Costa every success in his renewed undertaking."

There’s also an advert in the 1891 Business Directory for “A. Brandon Son: Marble Workers, Painters” of 87 Harbour Street, Kingston headed with the same “Nil Desperandum” phrase, so the spirit of the message seems to have lasted for some years.
 
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Lost Signal

Lost Signal

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Great find. For sure that's going to be a rare button. I have some random comments and observations.

Jamaica has no alligators… only crocodiles (one species), so that’s what the emblem is. It has a long history of association with Jamaica, having been jncluded as the crest for the colony’s armorial granted by Royal Warrant on 3rd February 1661. The original design had the crocodile on a log “fesse” (laying horizontally) but the log has not always been included on later representations. It's not seen on this one from 1687 for example:

View attachment 1996795

Jamaica was the first British colony to receive its own arms under Royal Warrant and the armorial was given the distinction of being crowned with a Royal Helmet and the Mantlings of the British Monarchy.

The original motto on the arms was INDUS UTERQUE SERVIET UNI (literally "The two Indians will serve as one", or "Both Indies will serve Together") in reference to the collective servitude of the Taino and Arawak Indians to the colonisers. The Latin version was replaced in 1962 by what was deemed to be a more politically acceptable English equivalent as "Out of Many, One People".

The crown on the button is of a style not used for official purposes beyond 1901. Were crowns of this type used on livery buttons? Yes, but not on family buttons, although quite possibly on livery crests granted to companies/services at civic level (livery is not confined to family heritage), or for government organisations and services, both military and uniformed non-military.

The “rope border thing” referred to by Crusader in post #16 is a “torse”… a twisted wreath of silver (or white) and red silk depicted edgewise, either straight, or more usually with slight curvature, like this:

View attachment 1996796

In heraldry, it separates the top of the helmet on an armorial from the base of the crest, masking the join between them and holding the mantling in place. When seen only with the crest (as for the crocodile on the button) it usually means the depicted crest is not a standalone emblem, but part of a full armorial for which the other elements have been intentionally omitted (eg because of space limitations or for other reasons).

The button motto does seem to be “NIL DESPERANDUM” (Never Despair). That has never been an official Jamaican motto, but was the motto accompanying the armorial of at least two prominent families in Jamaica… the Sampson family and the Knill family, although neither used the crocodile as an emblem for their personal crests. The army regulars and local recruits (such as the “Accompong Maroons”) on the island were supported by militia groups under the control of plantation owners (eg by Colonel William Grignon, who ran several estates), so that creates a possibility for either the Sampsons or the Knills to have had such a group under their control. There was a general mobilisation of militia groups to help put down the armed rebellion of some 60,000 slaves in 1831/2.

One other possibility sprang to mind. On 11th December 1882 the Jamaican capital, Kingston, suffered a great disaster. A disgruntled employee of the Alexander Feurtado Lumber Company, Edward Foster, set fire to his employer’s premises and the out-of-control blaze pretty much destroyed half the city, including a large portion of its business district. Some 6,000 people were left homeless, official premises/city services destroyed and many businessmen ruined. In the aftermath of the fire, the phrase “Nil Desperandum” was seemingly adopted as a motto by many of those determined to rebuild what they or the city had lost.

For example, the “Jamaica Gleaner” newspaper of 10th March 1883 reported (in relation to a grocer and druggist advertising with them): “We are pleased to see that Mr. Samuel R. Da Costa of 119 Harbour Street, has adopted the principle expressed in the heading of his advertisement, Nil Desperandum, and has determined not to sit down and weep over spilt milk. He has re-opened with a large supply of articles of household necessity, and will endeavour by perseverance and pluck to regain at least a portion of the loss which has overtaken him, as well as numerous other of his fellow citizens. We wish Mr. Da Costa every success in his renewed undertaking."

There’s also an advert in the 1891 Business Directory for “A. Brandon Son: Marble Workers, Painters” of 87 Harbour Street, Kingston headed with the same “Nil Desperandum” phrase, so the spirit of the message seems to have lasted for some years.
Thanks (again) for all the research!

The possibility of it coming from a plantation-supported militia seems plausible. If the button had come from an official British-Jamaican militia or regiment, it seems like it would be better documented. But, maybe not.

The motto, Nil Desperandum, was also one that was adopted by the Patriots in the American Revolution, so it might have picked up a lasting military connotation from that.

Maybe this will be solved. One of my best friends is Jamaican and I just sent him a link to this thread. He might be able to help from his end.
 

ARC

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Livery button.... IMO

Otter.
Here is similar...

Waterton [small] (1).JPG
 
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Lost Signal

Lost Signal

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Could be a beaver even...

View attachment 1996828
ARC,
Bramblefind found the same button on Worthpoint (check his post). It's definitely a crocodile. The lighting made mine look like it has a humped back when it actually doesn't.
You're right, though. It could be a type of livery button, but as Red-Coat says, not of a family. The crown is "official."
Also, I just searched Fairbairn's Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland, which seems to be a definitive guide. I don't see any crocodiles.
 
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ARC

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ARC,
Bramblefind found the same button on Worthpoint (check his post). It's definitely a crocodile. The lighting made mine look like it has a humped back when it actually doesn't.
You're right, though. It could be a type of livery button, but as Red-Coat says, not of a family. The crown is "official."
Also, I just searched Fairbairn's Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland, which seems to be a definitive guide. I don't see any crocodiles.
Well... if that was the case... a "crocodile"... (cant see how it could or would be differentiated from an "alligator".)

It would be rare or the first in either case... BEINGS neither is listed as a known example in the common livery button database.

So... with that said... hard to say IF livery and i would agree with Jamaica.

I missed doods post.... dont read some.
 
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CRUSADER

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If the button had come from an official British-Jamaican militia or regiment, it seems like it would be better documented. But, maybe not.
I would steer you away from that assumption.
I have 5 unknown (undocumented) British mainland Militia buttons in my collection alone. So the fact that one of our lesser Common Wealth Countries Militia/Govt Authorities Button has been lost to History would not be surprising to me.
Hence Don Troiani best guess of 1812. In the rough ballpark I'm thinking.
I'm 90% sure the Crown is pre-Victorian, so narrows it to pre-1837, but it's not clear enough to narrow further.
One day you may just trip across the right expert for a full attribution, but it's always worth firing off a few emails.
 
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