Dating Old Buttons: Unveiling Their Hidden Stories


Have you ever come throughout an outdated button and puzzled about its story? Buttons are not just items of clothes fasteners; they carry a rich historical past and unique tales from the previous. These tiny artifacts hold the power to move us back in time, permitting us a glimpse into the style, tradition, and society of yesteryears. In this article, we’ll delve into the fascinating world of dating outdated buttons and learn how to uncover their hidden stories.

The Importance of Buttons in History

Buttons could appear insignificant, but they have performed a major function in our historical past. From practical fasteners to ornate accessories, buttons have advanced alongside fashion tendencies and societal adjustments. They have been more than mere garment closures; they represented standing, id, and even political affiliations. By courting previous buttons, we will gain valuable insights into the lives of the individuals who wore them and the eras they lived in.

Unearthing the Clues: How to Date Old Buttons

Dating outdated buttons requires a eager eye, attention to detail, and an understanding of historical contexts. Each button has distinctive characteristics that can point us in path of its place and time of origin. Let’s discover some strategies and techniques utilized by experts thus far these fascinating artifacts.

1. Button Materials

Buttons have been created from a variety of supplies throughout history. By identifying the fabric used, we will slim down the time period during which the button was probably made. Here are some widespread button supplies and the eras associated with them:

  • Metal Buttons (18th to early twentieth century)
  • Ceramic Buttons (18th to 19th century)
  • Glass Buttons (19th to early 20th century)
  • Plastic Buttons (Early 20th century onwards)

Keep in mind that these timeframes are common tips, and exceptions do exist. It’s always important to contemplate the overall context and other features of the button.

2. Button Styles and Designs

Button kinds and designs have modified over time, reflecting the prevailing trend developments of every period. By observing the form, dimension, and decorative elements of a button, we are ready to determine which interval it belongs to. Here are some iconic button kinds and their corresponding intervals:

  • Rococo Buttons (18th century): These buttons are extremely ornate, featuring intricate designs influenced by the Rococo art motion.
  • Victorian Buttons (19th century): Victorian buttons usually have elaborate floral motifs, cameos, or an emphasis on symbolism and sentimentality.
  • Art Deco Buttons (early 20th century): Art Deco buttons are characterised by geometric shapes, daring colors, and a modernist aesthetic.
  • Mid-century Modern Buttons (1940s-1960s): These buttons usually showcase easy and modern designs, influenced by the post-war period and the rise of minimalism.

By familiarizing yourself with the kinds prevalent in numerous intervals, you can start unraveling the story behind each button you encounter.

3. Button Backmarks and Shank Styles

Button backmarks, which are markings found on the back of buttons, can provide valuable clues about their age and origin. These markings often include the producer’s identify, logo, or location. By researching these backmarks or evaluating them to existing databases, you’ll be able to pinpoint the button’s manufacturer and doubtlessly establish its timeframe.

Additionally, examining the shank style of a button also can help in relationship. Shank styles have advanced over time, with loop shanks prevalent in the 18th and nineteenth centuries, and sew-through or self-shank buttons becoming extra popular within the 20th century.

4. Historical Events and Fashion Trends

Buttons are not created in isolation; they’re influenced by the events and tendencies of their time. By studying historical occasions, similar to wars, political movements, or technological developments, we will acquire insights into the buttons produced during those intervals. We can even look at style tendencies and modifications in clothing styles to additional slim down the relationship of buttons.

The thrill of Uncovering Button Stories

Unveiling the hidden tales behind outdated buttons is like embarking on a treasure hunt. Each button holds the potential to transport us to a different period, offering a glimpse into the lives and experiences of those that wore them. Imagine holding a button from the Victorian era, tracing the fragile engravings and reflecting on the fashion beliefs and societal norms of the time. These artifacts serve as a bridge between the past and current, reminding us of our shared humanity and the continuity of history.


Dating previous buttons is more than a pastime; it is a method to connect with the previous and discover the stories which have shaped our world. By inspecting their materials, styles, backmarks, and historical contexts, we can unravel the hidden tales behind every button we come throughout. So subsequent time you encounter an old button, take a second to understand its uniqueness and contemplate the narrative it holds inside. Who knows? You may just uncover a forgotten chapter of historical past with a simple button as your information.


  1. How can I determine the age of an outdated button?
    To determine the age of an old button, you should consider a quantity of factors. Look at the materials used, such as steel, glass, or Bakelite, as completely different materials were well-liked in several time intervals. Study the design and elegance of the button, as sure shapes or patterns were prevalent in particular eras. Additionally, look at the button’s development, together with the presence of backmarks or shanks, which can help point out the age. With careful research and by evaluating your button to reference supplies and online resources on button historical past, you can often estimate its age with cheap accuracy.

  2. What are some dependable sources for researching outdated buttons?
    When researching old buttons, there are a quantity of trustworthy sources you’ll be able to consult. Start with reference books like "Button Button: Identification and Price Guide" by Peggy Ann Osborne or "Dating Buttons" by Warren K. Tice, which provide priceless data on button styles and materials throughout historical past. Online platforms such as eBay’s "Guide to Button Collecting" and collector forums like the National Button Society’s website may also be great sources of information. Museums that specialize in trend or antique clothes may have button collections or knowledgeable staff who can help with identification and courting.

  3. Are there any particular markings on buttons that point out their age?
    Yes, many buttons have markings that may provide clues about their age. These markings can embody backmarks, which are stamped, engraved, or embossed logos, model names, or patent numbers on the again of the button. Backmarks have been commonly used within the 18th and 19th centuries and may help identify the button’s producer and interval of production. However, it is necessary to note that not all buttons have backmarks, and a few are unmarked or have worn markings because of age and use. Thus, it is essential to think about other components like the button’s material, form, and development when trying so far it.

  4. How can I clear old buttons without inflicting damage?
    Cleaning previous buttons requires warning to avoid damaging their delicate surfaces. Start by gently dismissing any loose dust or debris using a soft toothbrush or paintbrush. For steel buttons, you can rigorously wipe them with a humid material and gentle cleaning soap solution. However, avoid soaking buttons or utilizing abrasive cleaning brokers that can scratch or tarnish them. Buttons made of fragile materials like glass or porcelain may require more delicate cleaning strategies, corresponding to using a delicate fabric or cotton swab dampened with water or a diluted resolution of vinegar and water. It’s always advisable to check any cleansing method on a small inconspicuous area first to stop inadvertent harm.

  5. What are some widespread types of old buttons I could encounter?
    There are varied forms of previous buttons you might come across when courting and collecting them. Some of the widespread types embrace flat buttons which lie flat and have two or four holes, shank buttons which have a loop on their again to connect them, and cuff buttons used mainly on cuffs and waistbands. Other unique types embrace pictorial buttons with designs or images, uniform buttons that had been worn by navy personnel or organizations, and vintage studio buttons Look here handcrafted by particular person artists. By familiarizing your self with these different types, you can better understand the historical context and value of the buttons you discover in your collection.

  6. What are some ideas for beginning a collection of outdated buttons?
    Starting a set of previous buttons is normally a fascinating interest. Here are a quantity of tricks to get you started:

  • Begin by researching button collectors’ resources and publications to study completely different button styles, supplies, and historic intervals.
  • Attend native vintage reveals, flea markets, or estate gross sales the place you might discover buttons for sale.
  • Join native or on-line communities of button collectors to connect with skilled lovers who can provide steering and expertise.
  • Start with a selected niche or theme inside button accumulating, such as army buttons, Victorian buttons, or buttons produced from a selected materials.
  • Use proper storage strategies, like storing buttons in acid-free containers or trays with dividers to forestall damage and keep them organized.
  • Keep a document of your buttons, including any details about their age, origin, and unique options, that can assist you build your data and observe your collection’s progress.
  1. How can I decide the worth of old buttons?
    Determining the value of outdated buttons may be difficult as it is dependent upon components such as rarity, situation, materials used, and demand amongst collectors. One strategy is to analysis latest sales of similar buttons at auctions, online marketplaces, or specialized button dealers. Reference books like "Warman’s Buttons Field Guide" by Jill Gorski and "Buttons: The Collector’s Guide to Selecting, Restoring, and Enjoying New and Vintage Buttons" by Nancy Fink can also present basic price ranges. Remember that situation performs a significant role in determining worth, and buttons in wonderful condition, with minimal signs of damage or injury, are sometimes more useful. If you’ve a particularly distinctive or rare button, consulting with an skilled button collector or appraiser can provide a more accurate evaluation.