“Gibson Girl” buttons are from the Art Nouveau era (1890-1910). As with every period in history specific years overlapped and did not abruptly begin or end as some historians would have us believe. As we all know, a favorite dress, piece of jewelry, furniture, or silver are not totally replaced or abandoned because another style has found its way into the marketplace. La Belle Époque and the Arts and Crafts Movement were also popular during this time period and lasted until World War I. These movements also greatly influenced the Art Nouveau buttons. The fine quality from the Arts and Crafts Movement shows in the workmanship of these buttons—often the buttons were hand-cast rather than simply being stamped with a design.
Some artists who influenced items produced during this time were Louis Comfort Tiffany, William Morris, Arthur Beardsley, Renée Lalique, and Galle. Many worked in glass and metal. Others produced graphic art in the form of illustrations and posters. Alphonse Mucha and Charles Dana Gibson did much to influence and glamorize the portrayal of women. Liberty of London was a jewelry manufacturer whose fine pieces have survived to the present day. Carl Faberge of Russia and George Jensen of Denmark are world famous today and thrived during that time period.
The Gibson Girl buttons copied the ever-popular Gibson Girls of the era. They were made famous by an artist from Boston, Massachusetts. He married a beautiful lady from Richmond, Virginia, and she became the first model for the now famous Gibson Girl illustrations. All the portraits have ladies with upswept hair with tendrils or curls that escaped. He painted the full figures of his models as well as just their heads. Very often the clothing was very elaborate as though dressed to attend a great event. But the shirtwaist blouse and long skirt was just as popular.
At the Keep Homestead Museum, these buttons are placed on some of the Charles Dana Gibson prints so viewers can compare the likeness.