How to Identify Antique Buttons for Collecting

Things You’ll Need:

  • Keen eye for details
  • Magnifying glass
  • Sensitive touch
  • Patience

Metal Buttons

Metal buttons come in a variety of types: Pewter, Brass, Silver are just to name a few. In the late 18th & early 19th centuries, pewter was used for buttons in men’s fashions, but by 1830 the brass button replaced the pewter button. Pewter buttons appeared again in the late 19th century, however, this time in ladies’ fashions. The brass button industry peeked between 1820 & 1850. This period is often called the “Golden Age” because of the superior quality of these buttons. Silver buttons became fashionable in the mid 1800s through the early 19th century. In the 19th century silver buttons were large and made for men’s overcoats.

Shell Buttons

Shell buttons have been used throughout history as a way to give a garment some richness and texture. In the Mid-West up and down the Mississippi many people used shells to spur on small button making cottage industries to help with tough economic times during the Depression.

Lucite Buttons

Lucite plastic buttons are more of a modern invention that has helped many struggling economies to produce clothing cheaply and easily throughout Asia today. In this struggling economy we are always buying cheaply made goods with plastic buttons and we as Americans take that for granted. Some history behind the Lucite button, the trade name of synthetic thermoplastic acrylic resin, was used to make buttons in the mid 1930s. Lucite was produced by DuPont Plastics in Arlington, New Jersey. During World War II, Lucite was used to make gun turrets as well as other practical home items.

Wood Buttons

Wood buttons are the earliest of the surviving items that were used to close two fabrics together. Most wooden buttons are smooth, turned discs mounted with nailhead shanks made during the 18th and early 19th centuries.

Jet Glass Buttons

Glass buttons first became popular when Prince Albert of England died in 1861 and Queen Victoria, the fashion setter of the times, went into mourning. Her mourning jewelry and buttons were made of “jet”, a light weight, highly fragile, expensive mineral mined in Whitby, England. Overnight, the black glass industry became highly active. Black remained the predominant fashion color for over two decades. True “jet” is rare and feels warm to the touch.

By: Sharon L. Neth

Article Source:

User login



About Ruby Lane

Vintage Begins Here: Explore the exciting world of Ruby Lane. Discover thousands of independent shops showcasing quality Antique & Art, Vintage, and Jewelry items from the world's largest curated marketplace.

Follow Me on Pinterest