A Parting Gift from Dear Old England
Dating from the mid-nineteenth century, these buttons form part of the uniform worn by prisoners sentenced to transportation to Australia or Tasmania. The buttons and uniform remained property of the Crown but one can only imagine how rigorously that was observed on the other side of the world. In any case, new arrivals quickly found that they could be used as currency in their own right since buttons made in the colony were very plain in comparison. The smaller button sewn onto the black silk rosette formed part of a bicorn hat and the uniform as a whole was cleverly designed to allow prisoners to get dressed and undressed while still bound in chains joined at the wrist and ankle.