What Are Buttons
a person looks at their buttons they usually can say this one is plastic, that
one is metal and that one is cloth and that one is glass and that one is made
of mother of pearl. I say usually. However, that is no longer really the case.
Many of the materials used before the invention of plastics were usually easier
to identify than the buttons on the market today! But there were once some very
exotic types of materials used over the centuries by people making buttons.
have been around for centuries! Just recently there was a large and very expensive
find by some metal detectors in the UK that found buried in the ground some beautiful
buttons. These were made of gold and polished garnet cabochons from the 6th century.
Up until this find it was thought that buttons were made from stone or bone and
very crudely made. This find has exploded that theory and made it a myth!
buttons were first being made it was the job of jewelers to produce these fine
pieces of art. Members of royalty and the aristocracy were able to afford hundreds
of these buttons used more for trim rather than to fasten clothing. They beautified
their clothing with fine gems, gold and silver. You can see examples of these
in fine paintings of the period.
what are your buttons made from? Buttons have been made of many different materials,
some special and some very common, some as common as dirt, wood, paper, horn,
milk, bone and shells. Others such as glass have been blown, molded, etched, wheel
cut, leaded, layered, ground, inlaid, overlaid, hand built, caned, lustred, colored,
and set in metal. Gemstones such as rubies, garnets, opals, and pearls have been
set in silver and gold and used to ornament kings' robes and finery.
the years waste materials such as sawdust have been combined with chemicals and
molded into some really beautiful buttons and were very popular in the 1920's.
In the mid 19th century celluloid was created and became a popular material for
making buttons to imitate the look of ivory.
soybeans, and petroleum have been adapted to create materials suitable for buttons
of all sizes and shapes. Over the years the use of coal, amber, coconut shells,
fabrics, fruit pits, bamboo, rubber, and tagua nuts have joined the list of button
is a challenge to put together a card of 25 buttons following a specific theme
and incorporating as many different materials as possible. But many in the hobby
of button collecting do just that. Myra was no exception, there are many examples
throughout the museum of cards prepared by Myra using many different materials
on some of the cards. When you visit the KHM see how many you can find among the
many buttons on display!
of different materials with a star theme
of different materials with a butterfly theme
Past Featured Buttons, click