Dating old buttons

Dating Old Buttons A Fascinating Hobby for Collectors and Historians

Buttons are one of the most ubiquitous and yet overlooked items in our lives. We use them on clothes, bags, shoes, and accessories without giving much thought to their history, design, or significance. However, for collectors and historians, buttons are a treasure trove of information about fashion, technology, politics, and culture. By dating old buttons, they can uncover a wealth of stories and insights about the past and the present.

The Significance of Buttons in History

Buttons have been around for thousands of years, dating back to the Bronze Age and ancient civilizations such as Egypt, Greece, and Rome. However, it was not until the Middle Ages that buttons became widespread in Europe, where they were used as functional and decorative elements on clothing. Buttons were made of various materials such as bone, horn, shell, metal, and glass, and were often highly ornamental, reflecting the status and wealth of their owners.

During the Renaissance and Baroque periods, buttons reached new heights of artistry and craftsmanship. They were often miniature works of art, featuring intricate designs, precious materials such as gold and silver, and enamel or gemstone embellishments. Buttons became symbols of power, prestige, and fashion, and their popularity spread throughout Europe and beyond.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, buttons continued to evolve with new materials such as porcelain, ivory, celluloid, and plastic. They became more affordable and accessible to the masses, and were used not only on clothing but also on household items such as furniture, lamps, and toys. Buttons also played a role in politics, as they were used to promote candidates or causes during elections or campaigns.

Identifying Old Buttons

Identifying old buttons can be a challenge, as there are thousands of types and variations from different eras and regions. However, there are some basic clues that can help you narrow down the date and origin of a button:

  • Material: The type of material used for a button can give you a general idea of its age. For instance, bone or horn buttons were popular in the 18th century, while metal buttons became more common in the 19th century. Plastic buttons were introduced in the early 20th century.
  • Construction: The way a button is made can also indicate its age. Handmade buttons from the 18th century may have irregular shapes or rough edges, while machine-made buttons from the 19th century have more uniform shapes and smoother edges.
  • Design: The design of a button can reveal its purpose or context. Military buttons often have regimental numbers or symbols, while mourning buttons feature black or white enamel. Art Nouveau or Art Deco buttons reflect the style of their respective periods.
  • Markings: Some buttons have markings that identify their manufacturer or origin. French buttons often have "Paris" or "France" stamped on them, while British buttons may have a maker's name or city. American buttons may have the name of a company or patent number.

Collecting Old Buttons

Collecting old buttons is a fascinating hobby that appeals to people of all ages and backgrounds. Some collectors focus on a particular era or type of button, while others collect buttons from different countries or themes such as animals, flowers, or sports. Some collectors also enjoy making crafts or jewelry using old buttons.

There are many resources available for button collectors, including books, websites, forums, and clubs. The National Button Society is an organization that promotes button collecting and research through exhibits, publications, and events.

Button collecting is not only enjoyable but also educational and valuable. By preserving old buttons and their stories, we can gain a deeper understanding of our history and culture, and appreciate the artistry and craftsmanship of our ancestors.

The Future of Buttons

As our world becomes more digital and automated, the role of buttons may seem less significant or relevant. However, buttons still have a place in our lives and society. They are used on smartphones, computers, cars, appliances, and other devices as tactile interfaces that provide feedback and control. Buttons also serve as decorative elements that personalize our belongings and express our style.

The future of buttons may involve new technologies such as touchscreens, voice recognition, or gesture control. However, the basic principles of functionality and design will remain the same. Buttons will continue to be a part of our human experience, reminding us of our past and shaping our future.

Dating Old Buttons

Dating old buttons is more than just a hobby; it is a window into our history and culture. By studying buttons from different eras and regions, we can uncover fascinating stories about fashion, technology, politics, and society. Collecting old buttons is also a fun and rewarding activity that connects us with like-minded people and inspires our creativity. Whether you are a seasoned collector or a curious beginner, there is always something new to learn and discover about old buttons.

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