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Vintage Buttons – What you Need to Know

Buttons are a universal accessory that has been used for centuries to secure clothing and add decorative elements to garments. These small, round, and flat objects have evolved and have become popular collectors’ items, and we love seeing mason jars and baskets full of them at local estate sales.

Collecting buttons, known as "buttonology," has a long and fascinating history that dates back centuries. One of the most fascinating aspects of button collecting is the incredible variety of buttons available. Buttons can be made of many different materials, including metal, glass, wood, ivory, bone, shell, and fabric. They can be plain or ornate, simple, or complex, and can feature an array of designs, patterns, and colors. Some buttons even feature images or portraits of famous people or historical events.

Let’s talk more about the history of collecting buttons and why they continue to fascinate collectors to this day.

Button Collecting’s Beginnings

Button collecting is not a new phenomenon. In fact, people have been collecting buttons since the early 18th century. The first button collectors were known as "buttoners" and were primarily women who enjoyed the hobby as a way to socialize with others who shared their passion. They would trade buttons, share stories about their collections, and even create artwork with their buttons. Button collecting became particularly popular during the Victorian era when buttons were ornate and decorative.

A Hobby Fit for a Queen

One of the most famous button collectors in history was Queen Victoria herself. The queen was an avid collector of buttons and amassed a collection of over 2,000 buttons throughout her lifetime. Her collection included buttons made of precious metals, such as gold and silver, as well as buttons made of glass, enamel, and fabric. She even had a button made from a fragment of the gown that Mary, Queen of Scots, wore on the day of her execution.

The 20th Century

Button collecting became more mainstream in the 20th century. In 1938, the National Button Society was founded in the United States to promote button collecting as a hobby and to preserve the history of buttons. The society holds an annual convention, where collectors can meet, trade buttons, attend lectures, and view exhibits of rare and unusual buttons.

Diverse Collections

The types of buttons collectors seek to vary widely, and the reasons for collecting buttons are just as diverse. Some collectors focus on a specific type of button, such as military buttons or buttons made of a particular material. Others collect buttons from a specific time period or region. Still, others collect buttons for their historical significance or their aesthetic value. Some collectors even create art or jewelry with their buttons.

Collecting buttons can be an incredibly rewarding hobby, and you will likely find some beautiful collections at an estate sale near you. Check out our upcoming estate sales to see if we have what you are looking for.


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