The Mystery of the ‘Sussex Hunt’ button.

Posted on Wednesday, September 27, 2017
In: Hunt Button Collecting
Written by: Firebrand

One of the more well-known reference books to include hunt buttons is Gwen Squire’s ‘Buttons: A guide for collectors‘ – NB by general I mean other than our own fine annual Directory.  Squire’s book illustrates a particular button and refers to it as being for the ‘Sussex Hunt. Now part of the East Sussex and Romney Marsh.’  The trouble was no-one could find a solid reference to a Sussex Hunt.  Once a ‘must have’ the book now seems sparse and out of date.

In his excellent (if flawed) second edition, the late Neil McShane again illustrates the same button, this time adding that it was listed in 1849, but no-one can find the listing to which he refers in any of the bibliographical sources he lists.

Then, a rare copy of The English Hunt Annual 1908/09 was found to list the button as being the Suffolk Hunt dress button. “At last!” we all cried documentary and pictorial evidence of what it is…………except.

Except all three of the above named books contain a number of errors of attribution, which would constitute reasonable doubt in any sensible person’s mind.  In fact, even the venerable Firmin pattern book has the same button, obviously misplaced and marked as being Cottesmore dress!  As the young ‘uns say…“Yeah right!”

Below is one example of the villain of the piece.  This one having a C&J Weldon backmark, placing it a fairly safely into the late 19th or early 20th century, and no later than 1910.  It is hand-chased and blackened by acid in the lettering.


This second one, although almost identical, has the ubiquitous Pitt & Co. 31, Maddox St mark, which could take it into the 1970’s at a push.  Again hand-engraved, but not acid etched later.


Neither of which bear any resemblance to the familiar ‘Old English’ or gothic typeface of the established Suffolk Hunt  field or dress button.


So, is it a Suffolk dress button after all?

Sitting quietly in the background all this time is (whisper it….) Stevenstone.  The similarity of our mysterious little monster to the standard Stevenstone button is clear to see (below)


But no-one has yet suggested it might be a variant, maybe dress version, of an early Stevenstone button.  Okay, I’m half-suggesting it now, but with caution and question.

Could there have been an early Sussex Hunt in the mid-19th century that we (or at least I) cannot find?  Could the Suffolk have adopted their button’s design after they had disappeared?  Is it something as simple as the dress button for a well-known and extant pack?  Does anyone other than crazy button collectors actually care? (a wry grin here)

So how do we get an answer?

General button collectors have no knowledge of hunting and little relevant reference material.  Hunting folk, especially Hon Secs and M’s FH,  are generally too busy hunting to worry about little brass fastening devices (and rightly so!), so we need a hunting ‘historian’ with knowledge of any or all of those three packs: Stevenstone, Suffolk and the questionable Sussex, to weigh in and help us out.

Can you help?





5 responses to “The Mystery of the ‘Sussex Hunt’ button.”

  1. says:

    pre 1900 to around 1850 the Suffolk was virtualy a private pack of green kings brewery with the greens and kings in charge ,then came Eugeen Wells and Frank Rielly Smith so they may have had their own buttons.In George Osbaldestons time and George Mure they Hunted a much larger country including the thurlow some of the Cambs and some of the East Essex at various times.I dont know what the buttons were like as its not one of my areas of study.

  2. says:

    Could the H be Harriers

  3. Firebrand says:

    Hi Gerald, Thanks for the information of the Suffolk, and your question re: harriers. All grist to the mill and very welcome. I’ll look more closely into the harrier possibility. Presumably, at that time they would be either a mixed hare/fox pack or fox-hunting harriers? Both Eugene Wells and F. Riley-Smith had staghounds as well, and we know what those buttons were.

  4. Peter Brook says:

    Dave Collop Firebrand, I think your thoughts re the Stevenstone would be correct. I have read many books on the history and never come across a Sussex Hunt.

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