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The Continuing Mystery of a Particular Hunt Button

In this post I would like like to return to the ‘mystery’ of the infamous POH button.

The Story Pt1: For many years this button (Pic1) was held by collectors and considered an unidentified Otter Hounds button.


Then an article appeared in the American National Button Society magazine, which cast doubt even upon the existing uncertainty, so it was dismissed, because:

The Story Pt2: Some time in the 1970s a group of American women button enthusiasts was touring the Firmin & Sons factory in Birmingham. The women were shown a box of these buttons and told to help themselves, as they were obsolete buttons made for “The Princess’s Own Hussars” in around 1837, but were never used because she ascended the throne. All of this is, of course, hearsay. There is no guarantee, the member of staff was correct, and no guarantee the ladies remembered things correctly.


The case against this: I have personally researched, by contacting all the various Hussars’ Museums, and no such regiment was ever planned. Plus according to the military experts i) the button does not match any Hussars’ pattern ii) At the time any regiment associated with the later Queen, would have been called Princess Alexandrina’s Own – not just The Princess’s, as there were too many princesses at the time, not just one. Plus, as a minor (17), she would’ve been too young to be Commander-in Chief of a regiment. The age of majority then was still 21.

In addition, the quality of both manufacture and the silvered finish is far below that of Firmin in the mid-1800s, and it is without a back stamp of any kind.

In addition I have, within the last month, spoken to the head of Military Sales and Production at Firmin & Sons, and his reply was that he was unable to identify it as a Firmin product, and in his opinion it’s a hunt button.

So, to look at the possibility of it being a hunt button:

Firstly, its similarity to the button used by the Dumfriesshire Otter Hounds (Pic2) is well-known.

Now, bear with me…..

A lined field. Bearing G H in Old English (Pic3)

From the late 1600s, the Pryse family of Gogerddan (pronounced approximately Goh-gehr-than) in Cymru/Wales ran various packs of hounds. In the 19th century, when hunting fox, the Gogerddan hounds used a brass button with a lined field bearing G H in Old English (Pic3) but they also hunted otter in season, and it is generally accepted that the frosted, silvered G~H button was then used (Pic4).

So that’s one family, two quarry animals and two similar, but not identical buttons.

[As a side-note. It has been suggested that the re-formed Gogerddan Hunt had a number of the silvered versions re-cast around 1990 but looking through Baily’s Hunting Directory, I can’t see any evidence for this and the brass version appears to be consistent up until Marjorie, Lady Pryse’s retirement in the late 1980s.


So I will check my information. If you have an example of the frosted G~H, check the backmark for its age. I have examples with both mid-19th century, and late 20th century backmarks, so there were definitely two periods of production.]

Also, perhaps by coincidence,1888/89 season, the year that all the Pryse family hounds combined and officially took the name Gogerddan, and therefore the need for any PH or POH button ended, is the same year as the D.O.H was founded. Coincidence, or the transfer of one design from one pack to another?

Turning back the clock in time now, to when their hounds were known by the Pryse family name, rather than the name of the estate, Mr Pryse ran a pack of hare and fox hunting Harriers from Plas Gogerddan, wearing a plain flat brass button with PH in Old English.(Pic5). There was also listed a ‘Young Pryse’s Harriers’ around 1835.

Picture 5 Mr Pryse’s Harriers


At the same time his son, Col. Pryse had his own pack of otter hounds that hunted both the Gogerddan, and the adjoining Nant Eos estates’ waters. Photographs of Col. Pryse hunting his otter hounds show a dark coat, with a bright button. Col. Pryse lived in a smaller park within Gogerddan, called Pistyll.

Given the Pryse history of using both brass and silvered buttons for their hounds depending on the quarry, my question is this:

Could the unidentified silvered POH button be that of either Col. Pryse’s Otter Hounds, or even the Pistyll Otter Hounds?

To repeat: It’s conjecture and nothing more, but one where the weight of evidence, makes it an interesting mystery to pursue. Of course, without pictorial, documentary evidence we will never, ever know.

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