Chapter: Paying the Price

Button Stick

"For when you want to please the brass"
WWI & WWII Button Stick protected uniforms when polishing brass Button Stick


In any profession appearances matter, but this is especially true in the military. One factor in common to all soldiers was the requirement to maintain the shine on the brass affixed to their uniform. It just wouldn’t do to have tarnished buttons or hat badges. The problem, however, was how to polish all those buttons without getting polish all over the uniform?

The solution was the button stick. It was part of the personal kit issued to soldiers in both WWI and WWII. The stick would be placed under the buttons when polishing ensuring that the brass buttons gleamed while the uniform remained clean.

While this much attention to uniform details would not have paid off in actual battlefield situations, soldiers in garrison, particularly in a foreign country, were expected to present a good image that reflected well on their military unit and country.

Today the need to polish brass is no longer required as military buttons and badges are anodized which provides a permanent shine.