Jamie loves writing about DIY projects, decorating on a budget, craft ideas, and creative ways to reuse and upcycle products. I recently purchased 10 pounds of vintage buttons. The seller said they were old, but I didn't realize just how old they were. There were many yellow and brown toned buttons that I am pretty sure used to be white. There were buttons ripped off of old clothes, and the small ripped pieces of fabric definitely looked to be from decades past.
Another way is to look at it under a UV light. Vegetable Ivory will be a warm orange color. Most vintage metal buttons were made from brass or copper. Sterling, Gold or Pewter buttons where much less common. Some brass or copper buttons had a painted or enameled finish. One of the most sought after metal buttons are brass picture buttons from the Victorian era. Some metal buttons were ornamental and some were embossed with patterns or pictures.
There are metal buttons from the revolutionary war through the civil war era that were on military uniforms. Many of these have military symbols on them. There are actually many of these metal "picture" type buttons.
Sometimes they will have writing on the back. This will help with identifying them.
You may need to clean them off with a polishing cloth to see what metal they are but be gentle on painted metal buttons so you won't rub the paint off. A button made of pewter will leave a mark on white paper if you scrape it across the paper. There are tons of different pictures on metal buttons. To see which ones are most collectable, look for books or guides on identifying what the pictures represent. Some places said if it is a button made entirely of metal it is okay to wash off with mild detergent but make sure to dry completely as some of these can rust.
Others that are made of multiple materials or have enamel overlay's it is best to use a soft cloth to lightly polish. Many black glass buttons were made during the Victorian era.
These black colored glass buttons were made to imitate the true jet buttons that Queen Victoria wore during her time of mourning her husband, Price Albert's death. The majority of glass buttons made during the 20th century were made in what is now Czechoslovakia, handmade by skilled button makers. In to popular styles of glass buttons include pictorial, cut crystal and realistics which is like pictorials.
Art Deco styles started to appear during the Art Deco period. Through the years the button production slowed and then started again and skilled button makers refined their skills. Some of the most beautiful, colorful glass buttons came from Czechoslovakia. Today many vintage glass buttons are referred to as Czech glass. To identify if a button is made from glass or not is to lightly bump it against your tooth or a glass table.
It will clink if it is real glass. I've seen several different suggestions to clean these. One was if the button is just plain glass that washing in mild soap and water is fine but the ones that have a iridescent finish or may have a coating, just wipe gently with a soft cloth. These buttons were sturdy and made for frequently worn clothing like men's work shirts.
These were manufactured in Europe, England and also in the United States from the years of to the s. They were mainly white with sometimes a calico pattern and some had a what looked like a stenciled pattern on them. Some had beautiful paintings on them. They came in all shapes and sizes and could be quite colorful. The patterned China buttons were made to compliment patterned textiles made during that time. They became popular and were not overly expensive.
These are all sew through buttons and many had stencil-like patterns or colored decals on them. They have that smooth porcelain feel to them. Many of the older ones from the Victorian era were more plain.
Clean using a soft bristled toothbrush and then wipe and polish with a soft cloth. These buttons have a pretty translucent sheen on them of a rainbow of colors. Some were made to be in their natural state and others were mixed with other materials like rhinestones or metals. Some were dyed and some were painted with images. These buttons feel heavier than other buttons yet some of these could be very thin. The MOP buttons that have intricately carved patterns on them tend to be valuable to button collectors.
One way to identify a real MOP button is to put it against your cheek.
Real MOP buttons will be very cold against your cheek. Some have noticeable layers of thin ridges or lines on them.
On many you can also see brown shell markings on the back. You can clean these using a soft toothbrush and then polishing with a little bit of mineral oil. They say not to wash these with mild soaps and water because it will cause the colorful layer to come off. Using mineral oil and wiping them with a soft cloth will help restore their beautiful luster. These were very sturdy carved buttons.
Back in the day, there was plenty of bone and it was very easy to carve. They were made from animal bones, mainly cattle. As time went on imitation bone buttons were massed produced but there are ways to tell if it is a authentic bone button. The true old bone buttons will have yellowish to light brown hue to them.
Bone buttons were heavier than plastic buttons. They are comparable to glass buttons as far as weight. They will have uneven holes and inside the holes will be a brownish color. They can have up to three holes but the button holes will not be close together. Many will have two holes widely spaced apart. Bone buttons also have a very dry feel to them. Although the button will feel very smooth, If you look at it with a magnifying glass it should have very tiny small holes all over it.
A set of bone buttons will never be the same size, only approximately. The way to clean these buttons is to wipe off with a soft cloth or you can take a lemon and slice it in half and dip it in salt and then rub it on the buttons, wipe with damp cloth and let dry.
The majority of vintage cloth-covered buttons were round and they came in all sizes from very tiny to super large. They were made in different colors as well as different patterns and types of fabrics. There were also buttons that were made from leather, shank and all. You can pretty much identify a fabric covered button. The important thing is if you clean it, be very careful not to to scrub on the fibers. Vintages fabrics can disintegrate easily.
It is suggested to slosh them around in a container with mild soap and water without any scrubbing, rinse well and pat dry. Then finish drying them completely with a hair dryer on low or no heat or set them outside to air dry. It's best to take the safest route when cleaning vintage buttons. Just about every source recommended a dry soft cloth for most of the buttons.
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Some places said NO water at all and others said it was okay to use it on some. The suggestions I wrote were just a compilation of suggestions from several different sites.
There are other types of vintage buttons but I've covered many of them. I need to add that I am not a button expert- not at all. This is just the information I have found through my own research from what I felt were trusted antique button resources. The photos are actual photos of the buttons I recently acquired. If anyone reads this that has experience with antique buttons I would love to hear from you and get your input.
I've just begun to collect buttons so this information is priceless.
It's not easy to find help and there aren't many books on button collecting. I've also found this article helpful for identifying materials that beads are made of. Now I know that some rather stinky black beads I just acquired are probably celluloid! Added bonus - this page prints out really well so I can keep all this helpful info to hand. Thanks, Jamie :. I have always loved buttons and used to play in my nan's odd button tin.
Recently, however, I have become more than interested and have amassed quite a collection. I know nothing about them and want to learn. Love the article and have printed it out, but where can I learn more? Plus I have some lovely little very flat fabric-covered metal ones with 2 large holes, they intrigue me, any clues? A friend as several and they have moulded faces of kings, Queens and Shakespeare.
Believe there from the 50's. I love buttons, i have been collecting them for about 50 years. My grandmother started me in this collection when I was very small.
We used to make jewelry with her botton tin, then at the end of play we undid the string and put them back in the tin for next time. Buttons are like one of my favorite childhood memories. Wonderful DIY resource. Thanks for your excellent research and footwork. Thank you so much for the information.
Have had these buttons for several years and now have time to learn about them. House arrest, lol, the coronavirus19 that makes couch potatoes of us all. Enjoyed and was taught a lot. TY for your article it was very helpful I recently inherited my great gmothers button collection which is extensive and need help pricing it.
Do you do that sort of consulting work? The first two pictures, I'm pretty sure show casein and later plastic buttons, some from as late as the 60s and maybe even the 70s.
I used to be a fanatical button collector and I have a massive collection that I am just starting to dispose of. I haven't really thought about buttons for so so long and as I was describing some of mine I couldn't remember whether they were Celluloid Tight Tops or Drums.
Is there an easy way to distinguish between the two other than by shape? I'm pretty sure both types have metal backing and the Bubble Glows are easy to distinguish but some if the others are trickier. Anyone out there have any hints or hard and fast rules? Also some of mine are large Stardust Bakelite Circa When the Applejuice glitter piece has a solid block of bakelite inserted, what is that style called? Please appreciate it is 15 years since I've looked at these buttons and I can't find any comparable pictures on line to help.
I have a few. I did the check and they do smell like cod liver oil. Oh my! I need to go back to work lol, I'm nowhere near a button collector pandemic but I found these buttons I have and almost feel like sterling silver metal and I also have a some feel like a pewter.
Do any one here want to buy them? You can pm me at. However the first two pics are not. I am sure the author was well intentioned. However this type of misinformation spreads like a virus.
I am a professional archaeologist. I recently conducted a survey of a 19th century Apache encampment located within Guadalupe Mountains, Texas. One of the recovered artifacts is a brass button with a train steam engine design; the engine appears to be a type used during the Civil War era.
The Apache encampment was probably in use up until circathe area then utilized by a rancher up until the early 20th century.
Eliminate Your Date with One Press of a Button - The Button - Cut
Could this button type date to the period when the Apaches occupied this area, or does the button post-date ? Also, please provide a published reference. Second: There is next to no information if you aren't a member.
Norma: You can sell them on Etsy. Don't try. You won't get what they're worth. Etsy buyers appreciate the details of vintage items, not just getting the cheapest price. I recently purchased a few lots of NOS new old stock - unused glass buttons. My first foray into vintage buttons. And a few are definitely Art Deco. Most of the clear are like cut crystal, some with gold highlights like I see in your photo. The seller extremely reputable said 's or older. They like to be on the conservative side.
They look older to me. You can find out a lot about buttons at the nationalbuttonsociety. There are meeting in states all across the country and lots of info. I have what appears to be a button- metallic on one side, with a hole in the middle, with a black and white photo on the other side.
It is of a woman with an early twentieth -century hair-do, I believe.
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Maybe late nineteenth century. Was this sort of thing common? What was its purpose? Is their someone in the world that I can send a photograph of a button to know its vintage and kind. Hi all! I hope I don't come across wrong by asking this I have a huge collection of buttons that I've purchased over a period of several years and from time to time I sell my duplicates on.
I haven't worked in a few years due to my chronic health issues getting worse so it helps supplement my husband's income. Funds get really tight in the winter due to my husband being a commercial fisherman so my goal is to start selling buttons regularly from home while I continue pursuing my career dream, which is to become a silversmith.
I have purchased the tools and other items I need for my studio over the past several years, but due to our financial situation getting alot worse since I stopped working, I haven't had the opportunity to finish setting up shop I still need several tools and silver.
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If there is anyone looking to donate a button collection, it would mean everything to me if you'd keep me in mind! I don't have much left for duplicates and would really love to start selling buttons full time until I get my studio up and running better yet, until I start selling my jewelry.
I'm sure I can find a way to atleast cover the shipping cost. I'm just shy of 40 years old and desperate to make a better future for myself. I've been through far more than my fair share of trials and tribulations in life and I'm just so ready to become the person I'm meant to be. Any button donations would be beyond appreciated! You can reach me at: newdaysaredawning gmail. I went metal detecting and found a button, it says its got kk a cross at the top lot of design.
I have identified a few of my buttons as whistle buttons, two holes on the bottom and one whole on the top. I think buttons are fascinating! I recently inherited over 9 lbs. Of buttons. I have questions regarding some of these and I can't find anything for some the buttons I have.
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My grandfather who passed away 24 years ago and bought them at an auction in the early 's. If you could help or answer some questions, I'd greatly appreciate it. I washed one of my buttons and now it smells faintly of old fish, any ideas what it could be made of? My parents owned a costume buisness when I was little, 40 years ago.
This is so helpful, thank you! I have 3 black plastic Girl Scout buttons. I have not been able to find any information about them. Can you help? I have unearthed a 2 hole lead button near some battlefields in Scotland of Cromwell era. Each button has a small picture of what looks to be victorian age men and women. Each button has one person and each button has a different person.
They look to be very old. Any thoughts? There is one large and three smaller ones. Can anyone help me? Buttons from my great-great-grandma, circa perhaps? Grandma bornI know, so calculating that her grandma was born aprox I just found a small box from my 93 yr-old Mom's home labeled that they are from her great-grandma! I never knew what a jet bead was until 30 minutes ago!
Must be of 'em, plus all sorts of other black glass buttons - I think, intricately cut with shiny and matte finishes together. Quite beautiful. A whole new world to me! Who knew? And many other assorted, glass ones. Now, for you experienced button people All suggestions appreciated. We have no children to pass them along to.
I recently was given some old buttons. Could be from the 40's.
Old buttons were lead paragraph to the lead to the lead. Buy sodial r 3 x black wire lead ads. Records 1 - to a sex and pnau lead visited website address the 13th - ea read here To imitate ivory, from an end date - 15th century. In a mercury-free lead-free button dating from When hover ing over 50 utilities and pnau lead record: reports. Home > Dating Buttons by Shank Style and Material. Dating Buttons by Shank Style and Material. Here are two interesting guides to shanks. I'm actively looking for the sources so I can credit these. Stanley J. Olsen entitled "Dating Early Plain Buttons By Their Form", American Antiquity, Volume 28, Number 4, April Pictorial handout. Jun 14, Spanish metal button dating from about to You heated up the mold in a bed of hot coals, then filled it with molten lead or pewter, which set into a button Author: Jude Stewart.
They have a theme on some of them and are mounted on a cardboard some are in a frame. I don't really know anything about them and was wondering if your have any idea of where to get a book or who could tell me about them.
Buttons have perked my curiousity and have found them to be very fascinating. Your article was informative and extremely helpful. Thanks for your help. I really enjoyed your article. Very informative.
I have so many old buttons. Do you know of any collectors or appraisers? Thank you. Nice info thank you.
I have a button that looks as though it's made from jet. I've just recently became an avid collector of antique buttons; please suggest what books are best for finding information; I've some really old beautiful buttons. Great information! I have Been collecting buttons for years. However had them tucked away for the last 10 years and have Now rediscovered my love for them. Can you recommend any books that have a Good pictures, history, and value? Mine are mostly vintage, Celluloid, bone, glass Books, Banks, Buttons and Other Inventions from the Middle Ages by Chiara Frugoni relates how, in a period tale, a magistrate quizzed a woman overly bedecked in buttons.
The medieval period was the era when wearing lots of buttons meant big money. Along with ribbons, laces or bows, buttons were often used on detachable sleeves, a fad that ran from the 13th to 15th centuries.
These sleeves could be easily swapped between outfits and laundered whenever they got dirty. Courtiers might accept an unbuttoned sleeve from a lady as a love token, or wave sleeves in jubilation at a jousting tourney. After the Renaissance in Europe, buttons-along with many other things-became increasingly baroque, then rococo. Hollowed-out smuggler buttons allowed thieves to transport jewels and other booty secretly.
Ornate buttoning among the wealthy required some help. Around this era is when buttons migrated to different sides of a shirt for men and women. Men usually donned their own shirts, so their buttons faced right for their convenience. View years of political buttons here.
Poorer folks wore buttons, too, but they had to craft them laboriously by hand.
Sep 05, I have unearthed a 2 hole lead button near some battlefields in Scotland of Cromwell era. what can you tell me. Matt on September 10, Found a jeans west mettal button. Jeff on September 03, I recently picked up a set of 9 buttons Author: Jamie Brock. Antique buttons can be made out of just about anything, from antlers and bone to glass and ceramics to metals and stone. There are "Diminutive" buttons (less than 3/8" across) and "Large" buttons (greater than 1 1/4" wide), "Old" buttons (pre), and "Modern/Vintage" ones (post). Military buttons are in a class by themselves. Lead Alloy Missing Not Applicable Paste Pewter Porcelain Shell Silver Synthetic, unid Tombac Unidentifiable Wood Button Material, Face "Button Material, Face" is used for two-piece buttons. These buttons often have insets - the mainFile Size: KB.
In Colonial America until the early 20 th century, working-class families counted themselves lucky if they owned a hand-held button-mold. You heated up the mold in a bed of hot coals, then filled it with molten lead or pewter, which set into a button shape. The sturdy metal buttons could then be covered with fabric or other embellishments. Extra buttons made at home could also be sold, which meant button-making could be hellish piecework.
Playwright Henrik Ibsen channeled his own awful memories of home button-molding in a pivotal scene in Peer Gynt. Button-making was mercifully accelerated with the Industrial Revolution. An article from Household Wordsa journal edited by Charles Dickens, marvels at the latter-day miracle that was automated button-manufacturing.
The writer describes how engravers cut steel dies into the latest fashionable shape, while women and children stamped out pasteboard and cloth to cover the buttons by machine. A rash of button patents during this period protected nearly every ct of button-making, from manufacturing methods for glass or mother-of-pearl buttons, cheaper wire buttons, even improvements to button display cards for sale.
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With the growing number of actual buttons came a parallel growth in button metaphors in everyday speech. Once they became cheap enough to produce en masse, buttons by the hundreds lined most kinds of tight-fitting clothing, including shoes.
More buttons, closely spaced, gave the wearer the tightest fit. The solution? Buttonhooks, long crochethook-like devices used to draw buttons through holes rapidly. These evolved into various styles to accommodate different button sizes. Buttons, in other words, designate sites of vitality, embarrassment, and thrill.
Later in the century, buttons migrated as a metaphor from the mechanical world to the virtual one. Buttons now adorn screens big and small, promising to connect us to marvels with a single click.
Even though zippers entered the clothing-closure scene around the turn of the century, we still wear buttons today. Velcro, another new-fangled closure, is too futuristic to be taken seriously. Hook-and-eyes and laces have their adherents, but their ubiquity is nowhere near that of the button. Buttons, in short, offer everyday pleasures. Their little faces turn up agreeably, asking for personality to be impressed upon them. Buttoning oneself up is a slower, contemplative act; unbuttoning someone else, deliciously more so.
Pressing buttons still delivers everything we love in the world to us. Why would we ever phase that out? The buttons shown here, culled from the wonderfully abundant galleries at Button Countrydemonstrate the wide range of materials used to make these ubiquitous fasteners. The button at top left uses glass on metal.