In the kitchen display of implements and tools, there are presently three frames of buttons indigenous to approximately the same time period as many of the items on exhibit. One of these frames contains the very interesting and rare Norwalk pottery buttons. It is known that there were at least two pottery works in Norwalk, Connecticut producing buttons c. 1825–1853. Many of these buttons resemble the well-known Bennington pottery of Vermont.
The colors of those in the Keep Homestead Museum collection range from the earthen tones of brown, tan, cream, and mustard, as well as to the popular reddish brown. There is also at least one true red. However, there are salesmen’s sample cards that have been found that include the colors of pale greens, lavenders, and blues. So far those colors have not surfaced at the Keep. Norwalk buttons range in size from 1/4 inch to 1 1/2 inch. Some look like typical plain pottery with a central pin on the front forming the shank on the back. Other buttons have metal rims, and appear more dainty. Many of the buttons appear to be more crudely made and were most likely used on work clothes or outside garments of that time period. For this reason, it is amazing that the buttons have survived this rough wear. After all, pottery is a breakable material. The smaller, daintier buttons were probably used on women’s and children’s clothing.
These are certainly not the most beautiful buttons in the collection at the museum, but fine examples of American-made pottery buttons of the early 19th century. Although some old store stock has been found, these buttons are among the rare, and very definitely part of our American heritage. If only these buttons could walk us through their history!