Thursday, July 25, 2013

Buttons: A Whole World On A Small Disc

A small, but mighty attraction. Buttons are the fascinating toy of young and old, rich and poor.

Do you remember playing in your mother's or grandmother's button box when you were young?

Some of the buttons in the author's collection
They're small, usually plain, mostly made from inexpensive materials. When they fall off they are often not missed or even replaced when they are lost. But don't take them for granted. They sometimes hold the world together. Just a few centuries ago commoners weren't even allowed to own them.
They were ornaments owned only by the very rich and elite in Europe. Used as status symbols, the more ornate the more well connected the wearer.
These seemingly simple little wafers, generally no larger than 3" and most 1/3 or less than that, cross over realms of art and history being carved, painted, molded, rolled, pressed and decorated in every way imaginable. They are made from glass, metal, plastic, mother of pearl, bone, leather, Bakelite, covered metal, crocheted or woven and more.
They are collectibles today for everyone from the most modest home to the The Victoria and Albert Royal Museum as well as in France which originated the Button Makers Guild in the 1300's.
Glass, metal, plastic, mother of pearl, bone, leather, Bakelite
Some have 2 holes, 4 holes, shank, self shank, or stud buttons like those on blue jeans.

2 hole 4 hole
Shank Back

Stenciled Glass

MOP or mother of pearl

Brass Horse mounted on braided leather

So many possibilities all on a little piece of material. Affordable, beautiful, varied and endlessly fascinating. Buttons, or "boutons" in French, offer much in the way of entertainment. Start today. There could be an exciting hobby right as close as your sewing box.

1 comment:

  1. Love this article on buttons! If you or your readers happen to live near Appleton, Wisconsin The National Button Society is having their 75th Anniversary Button Show and Sale, August 15th -17th at The Radisson Paper Valley Hotel. This is an incredible opportunity to see and buy hundreds of thousands of contemporary, vintage and antique buttons. More info at: