This page is essentially complete and as it will appear in the book, barring the discovery of new information. The other pages in the button section will be condensed with just sample information. The full story of 19th. century Spanish military, police and civil service uniform buttons will be a complete chapter in the book.
A SPECIAL NOTE ABOUT THE SPANISH COAT OF ARMS AS DISPLAYED ON INFANTRY BUTTONS: The Spanish arms or crest emblazoned on a shield appears in two forms on Infantry buttons at various times. The full arms of Spain are quartered with the emblems of the provinces of Castilla, León, Aragón, Navarra, and Granada on the bottom point. The simple arms are quartered with only the emblems of León and Castilla, and Granada on the bottom point. An oval escutcheon with the arms of the ruling monarch's family will come and go in the center of the shield with changes in political fortunes.
Before 1867 Line Infantry uniforms bore brass buttons embossed with regimental numbers. The Light Infantry - Cazadores - buttons were embossed with the number and name of the battalion.
1867 - 1870
A universal button for both Line and Light Infantry was authorized on January 18, 1867. The button was brass, convex in form and a one piece, hollow back stamping. The face was embossed with a royal crown over a scalloped shield quartered with the simple arms of Spain. The Bourbon family escutcheon (three fleur de lis) was placed in the shield's center. Under the shield was the title "INFANTERÍA". On May 25, 1869 the Bourbon escutcheon was ordered to be removed. Both variation also exists in an officer's pattern with the device applied and the title on a scroll. A button of this pattern with Cuban provenance has been noted.
Top row - left to right; enlisted man's and officer's buttons without the Bourbon escutcheon as authorized on May 25, 1869.
Bottom row - left to right; enlisted man's and officer's buttons with the Bourbon escutcheon as originally authorized on January 18, 1867.
1870 - 1873
In 1870, a new Infantry button was adopted. The basic design of this button would remain the regulation pattern, with changes in elemental details that reflect changes in monarchs and governments, until 1931. The button was brass and convex. Early manufactured examples are hollow back stampings with later buttons being made in two piece construction with a back plate. The face is embossed with a royal crown over the full Spanish arms on the shield. Below is a scroll with the title "INFANTERÍA". The whole design is flanked by the two Pillars of Hercules and a scroll with the motto "PLUS ULTRA". Initially, no escutcheon was present on the shield. However, soon after this pattern was adopted, an Italian, Amadeo of the House of Savoy, was crowned King of Spain. Buttons made between February 2, 1871 and February 11, 1873 included an oval escutcheon with the cross of Savoy. Examples also exist with the simple arms of Spain on the shield. An officer's button with an applied device exists for this and all subsequent models.
First pattern button introduced in 1870 without the central escutcheon.
Button authorized on February 2, 1871 with the cross of the House of Savoy on the central escutcheon.
1873 - 1875
The First Spanish Republic was proclaimed on February 11, 1873. The Infantry button remained basically the same with the exception that the royal crown was replaced by a mural crown. Examples with both the simple and full arms have been observed. Interestingly, a variation also exists that has the Bourbon escutcheon on the shield, probably a manufactures error.
Left to right; Republican 1873 pattern; enlisted man's and officer's buttons with the mural crown and full arms but without the Bourbon escutcheon. Variations exist with the political anomaly of a Bourbon escutcheon.
Detail of the mural crown composed of a wall and turrets.
1875 - 1931
On December 29, 1874 the republican government collapsed and the Bourbon monarchy was restored with the pronouncement of Alfonso XII as king. The new button initially displayed the full arms on the shield without the Bourbon escutcheon but the royal crown again returned to its place above the shield. Soon the Bourbon escutcheon was again added. By the time of the birth of Alfonso XIII in 1886 the simple arms had replaced the full arms on the shield. Variations with a raised edge border exist. Hundreds of buttons of this pattern with provenance from all three colonies have been noted.
This button also exists in a silvered finish. Which unit used this button is not currently known. Any additional information concerning these silver Infantry buttons is welcome.
Left to right; Initial pattern of the 1875 buttons; enlisted man's and officer's buttons with full arms but without the Bourbon escutcheon.
Second pattern of the 1875 buttons; button with full arms and the Bourbon escutcheon.
Left to right; Final pattern of the 1875 buttons; enlisted man's and officer's buttons with simple arms and the Bourbon escutcheon. This is the pattern most commonly found on uniforms from the Spanish American War.
Variation of the final pattern of the 1875 button with a raised edge border. Colonial examples are known.
Brass hook with the 1875 pattern button face used to support the weight of the equipment belt. Two of these are found on either side of the rear waist of the Peninsula Army issue Model 1886 Infantry enlisted man's tunic. They appear not to have been used on any rayadillo uniforms and none have been found in a colonial context.
Side view of the Infantry belt support hook.
Silvered finished variation of the final pattern of the 1875 button. Currently the intended purpose of this button is unknown.
Both Line and Light Infantry of the permanent garrison and Peninsular expeditionary forces appear to have used the same button as the Peninsular Army throughout the period.
A button believed to be unique to the Infantry in Cuba is a variant of the 1875 button in a silvered finish with the full arms in the shield but a single Fleur de Lys in the center escutcheon. Only a few of these buttons have been observed, all with a Cuban provenance, most from known veteran's souvenir groups. There is no backmark so the place of manufacture is unknown. The unit that used this button has not been determined. Research is ongoing and comments are welcome.
Variation of the second pattern 1875 button with a silvered finish an a single Fleur de Lys in the center escutcheon. The only known examples have a Cuban provenance.
Artifact and photo courtesy of Joel Moore
The same button as used by the Peninsular Infantry. No variations unique to the regular Infantry in Puerto Rico are known.
The same button as used by the Peninsular Infantry. No variations unique to the regular Infantry in the Philippines are known. However, there are examples of the 1875 Infantry button with the simple arms that were made in Manila.
Two pattern 1875 Infantry button variations made in the Philippines by Adolfo Roensch of Manila.
Top row: Final pattern obverse and reverse views.
Bottom row: Final pattern with a raised edge border obverse and reverse views.
All material is Copyright 2009 by William K. Combs. No portion may be used without permission.