The memory of my grandmother, an avid ‘up-cycler’, carefully cutting off buttons from the family’s time-worn clothes and saving both the buttons and fabric for future use, is what probably inspired me to hold onto buttons. Kept in a zip storage bag, my eclectic assortment has grown slowly over the years — It isn’t a large or valuable collection. In fact, many of the buttons are quite ordinary, but they are uniquely mine, taken from my wardrobe, and they’ve become a collection of memories as well as a personal style timeline. I’ve also used some of the buttons for arts and crafts projects, and they’ve often come in handy for button replacement.
“Le bouton est non seulement indispensable, mais capable d’enjoliver un vêtement, de le personnaliser et de lui apporter la touche finale.” *— Herbert de Givenchy, Introduction to Boutons by Loïc Allio (2001) *The button is not only indispensable, but capable of beautifying a piece of clothing, of personalizing it and giving it the final touch. (Translation by Caroline Baumann, Director of Cooper Hewitt Museum)
Buttons have been placed on clothing as ornamentation for thousands of years, and crafted in a variety of ways by artisans and artists or manufactured in low and high-tech factories from every imaginable material, making these small objects significant in fields of decorative arts and design, fashion, visual art, and arts and crafts as well as archeology and materials technology.
Beautiful and Fascinating! Long admired for the artistry as well as historical value, button collecting began centuries ago and is still a popular hobby today. The photo gallery below includes just a few examples from extraordinary button collections.
See More Wood Buttons (1900-20, American or European) from the Hanna S. Kohn Collection, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
→ Gallery 4
The Cooper Hewitt button collection is amazing, and available to view online → HERE
Inspired Button Art – “I hold the button to my ear and it whispers to me, “I want to be…..” Augusto Esquivel creates sculptures from buttons, and he shares his work and creative process → Augusto Mucho Gusto website
Kenneth D. King created this stunning jacket using some of the 75 pounds of antique uniform buttons he inherited. [Pinterest pin “Using Buttons As Embellishment” by Threads Magazine]
Button Society Websites & Contacts – List of button society websites and contacts by country and US states
Button, Button, We’ve Got the Button(s)! by Margery Masinter (Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, Buttons: In the Collection of the Cooper Hewitt Museum by Carl Christian Dauterman (The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Design, 1982)
Hammond-Turner & Sons – Button Galleries – an online museum displaying buttons manufactured by Hammond Turner & Sons (and related companies), button makers of Birmingham (and Manchester), England. Created by Lesley Close, a descendant of one of the owners of the company.
The Waterbury Button Museum – More than 3,000 buttons are on permanent display in the Button Gallery of the Mattatuck Museum, Waterbury, Connecticut
Déboutonner la mode (Unbutton Fashion), Les Arts Décoratifs exhibit presentation
Boutons, Decorative Arts Museum (Les Arts Décoratifs), Paris, France
Lucie Rie: Ceramics & Buttons Exhibit (22 June 2018 – 12 May 2019, Centre of Ceramic Art at York Art Gallery, UK
European Fashion Project – Buttons, Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Keep Homestead Museum – Button Collection, Monson, Massachusetts – The vast collection is exhibited on a rotating basis, but on permanent display is a wonderful collection of mosaic buttons.
Button Button: Identification and Price Guide* is a well-organized guide recommended by the Button Society as a book that every button collector and dealer should own.
Buttons: The Collector’s Guide to Selecting, Restoring, and Enjoying New and Vintage Buttons* shows and describes fabric, metal, glass, ceramic, enamel, plastic, and uniform buttons along with the history of buttons.
Buttons by Diana Epstein and Millicent Safro* looks at the authors’ collections of buttons, describing their history and value as art.
FREE To WATCH: Collector Confessions – A diverse group of engaging collectors tell their stories about lifelong passions for objects. [Videos on Demand]
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Feature photo “My Button Collection” © Zeester Media LLC, 2015-18