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Vintage Button Guide - Ways to Identify Antique Buttons

Updated on October 29, 2012

I recently purchased 10 pounds of vintage buttons. The seller said they were old but I didn't realize just how old they were. There were many yellow and brown toned buttons that I am pretty sure used to be white. There were buttons ripped off of old clothes, and the small ripped pieces of fabric definitely looked to be from decades past. There were a few that had cracked apart. It looked like they somehow disintegrated and and they had broken off in these weird clumps. There were some that were glass, cloth covered, metal and lots and lots of them made from plastic.

Needless to say, I have been on a mission to identify and learn about the materials these buttons are made of and I've learned lots of great stuff! I figured it was a perfect time to do a vintage button hub. I have always thought buttons were darling and I LOVE using them in craft projects but I really wanted to be for sure that I didn't ruin any buttons that may be of value plus I wanted to know the proper way to clean them. I am sharing with you in this guide, everything I've learned recently while researching antique buttons.

Celluloid Buttons

Celluloid buttons
Celluloid buttons

Celluloid was the very first man made plastic but it wasn't completely synthetic. In the mid 1800's, a British Chemist named Alexander Parkes developed celluloid using cellulose which is derivative of plants, more specifically wood and cotton fibers. Celluloid buttons became very popular during the late 1900s through the 1920s. They can be opaque, transparent or both and they come in all shapes, sizes and colors. Some had metal on the back. Some Celluloids were made to imitate other materials like wood and ivory. Celluloid buttons made to imitate ivory were called Ivoroid. These buttons were used until the 1940s and by that time other buttons were becoming popular. After Celluloid there was another plastic invented by the name of Casein (or Galalith) which was made from a milk protein (Casein) and formaldehyde which Celluloid buttons were also made from. Though it made great buttons there was one downside to Celluoid plastic. The substance is flammable.

***Identifying and cleaning Celluloid Buttons***

To tell if a button is Celluloid, run it under hot water and then smell it. If it smells like Vicks Vapor or mothballs, it is Celluloid. I've read multiple places that these shouldn't be cleaned in water. Most say just to clean off with a soft, dry cloth. Other places have said they can be cleaned with Simichrome polish.

Important Tip:

Do not store Celluloid buttons in airtight containers. They release gases that will disintegrate themselves and other buttons near by. Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to fix "sick" Celluloid buttons, the best thing to do is dispose of them.

Bakelite Buttons

Bakelite Buttons
Bakelite Buttons

Bakelite was the first completely synthetic plastic which was invented in 1904 by Leo Baekeland but this plastic was not used for making buttons until the 1920s. Bakelite buttons grew in popularity and were very common until the 1940s. Although these are not the first plastic buttons, today they are some of the most sought after and highly collected. They come in all shapes and sizes and are heavier than Celluloid buttons. Bakelite tends to be more opaque than clear. Today any pieces that were clear and have turned very yellow, they refer to as apple juice Bakelite and opaque buttons which have turned very yellow they refer to them as cream corn Bakelite. It was hard to research these buttons without getting hungry!

***Identifying and cleaning Bakelite Buttons***

One way to identify a Bakelite button is to run hot water over it and then smell it. It should have the smell of Formaldehyde. Some say they smell like Cod Liver Oil or have a sweet chemical smell. Another way is to put a bit of Simichrome Metal Polish or 409 All Purpose Cleaner on a Q-tip and rub it on the button. If the Q-tip turns yellow, the button is made from Bakelite. Some places said it's okay to wash these in warm water and mild soap but to make sure to dry thoroughly. Most places have said just to wipe with a clean and dry cloth and some said Simichrome Polish could be used to test the buttons as well as clean them.

Interesting Fact- Bakelite's patent expired in 1927 so the Catalin corporation started making buttons (same as Bakelite) but added 15 more colors. These buttons were called Catalin. It is estimated that 70% of the Bakelite buttons left today are actually Catalin.

Lucite Buttons

Lucite Buttons
Lucite Buttons

Lucite is the trade name of a poly-acrylic resin that was used to make buttons in the 1930s. It was produced by DuPont Plastics. It was low density yet stronger than previous plastics. Like some of the other type plastics, Lucite could be clear or opaque and different colors, shapes and sizes and could also be carved. Some of the old Lucite buttons are very colorful with glitter imbedded in them and some also had rhinestones mounted on them. They were also made into shapes like flowers or animals. Lucite buttons were most popular from the 1930s on through the 1960s. Lucite jewelry was very popular as well.

***Identifying and cleaning Lucite Buttons***

Lucite will have no smell if you run it under hot water and generally stays pretty clear over time. Clean using a soft cloth or mild detergent and water drying them completely.

Vegetable Ivory Buttons

Vegetable Ivory buttons
Vegetable Ivory buttons

Vegetable Ivory is a very dense material that comes from the Corozo nut that grows on the Tague Tree, a type of palm tree. It was named Vegetable Ivory because it resembles real ivory though it is not as heavy. These buttons were first introduced in 1862 at an exposition in Paris, France. Vegetable Ivory became the choice button for men's jackets which was introduced during that time and replaced old dress coats. Their production peaked from 1870 until 1920. The Vegetable Ivory buttons you can find today have a variety of different looks. Some are carved, pressed with fine lined patterns, painted or some have a shiny, mottled look. Some were dyed with other colors and some had cloth or even glass mounted on them. Although plastic buttons have largely taken over, Vegetable Ivory buttons are still manufactured and used today.

***Identifying and Cleaning Vegetable Ivory Buttons***

One way is to look at the material in or around the shank or button holes. You sometimes can see unprocessed materials in or around these holes. When these buttons were dyed, only the outer layers took color so the inside of the button remains the nut's natural color. The buttons were usually dyed before the holes were made. Another way is to look at it under a UV light. Vegetable Ivory will be a warm orange color.

Metal Buttons

Vintage Metal Buttons
Vintage Metal Buttons

Most vintage metal buttons were made from brass or copper. Sterling, Gold or Pewter buttons where much less common. Some brass or copper buttons had a painted or enameled finish. One of the most sought after metal buttons are brass picture buttons from the Victorian era. Some metal buttons were ornamental and some were embossed with patterns or pictures. There are metal buttons from the revolutionary war through the civil war era that were on military uniforms. Many of these have military symbols on them. There are actually many of these metal "picture" type buttons. Sometimes they will have writing on the back. This will help with identifying them.

***Identifying and cleaning Metal Buttons***

You may need to clean them off with a polishing cloth to see what metal they are but be gentle on painted metal buttons so you won't rub the paint off. A button made of pewter will leave a mark on white paper if you scrape it across the paper. There are tons of different pictures on metal buttons. To see which ones are most collectable, look for books or guides on identifying what the pictures represent. Some places said if it is a button made entirely of metal it is okay to wash off with mild detergent but make sure to dry completely as some of these can rust. Others that are made of multiple materials or have enamel overlay's it is best to use a soft cloth to lightly polish.

Glass Buttons

vintage glass buttons
vintage glass buttons

Many black glass buttons were made during the Victorian era. These black colored glass buttons were made to imitate the true jet buttons that Queen Victoria wore during her time of mourning her husband, Price Albert's death.

The majority of glass buttons made during the 20th century were made in what is now Czechoslovakia, handmade by skilled button makers. In 1918 to 1939 popular styles of glass buttons include pictorial, cut crystal and realistics which is like pictorials. Art Deco styles started to appear during the Art Deco period. Through the years the button production slowed and then started again and skilled button makers refined their skills. Some of the most beautiful, colorful glass buttons came from Czechoslovakia. Today many vintage glass buttons are referred to as Czech glass.

***Identifying and cleaning Glass Buttons***

To identify if a button is made from glass or not is to lightly bump it against your tooth or a glass table. It will clink if it is real glass. I've seen several different suggestions to clean these. One was if the button is just plain glass that washing in mild soap and water is fine but the ones that have a iridescent finish or may have a coating, just wipe gently with a soft cloth.

China Buttons

China Buttons
China Buttons | Source

These buttons were sturdy and made for frequently worn clothing like men's work shirts. These were manufactured in Europe, England and also in the United States from the years of 1840 to the 1930s. They were mainly white with sometimes a calico pattern and some had a what looked like a stenciled pattern on them. Some had beautiful paintings on them. They came in all shapes and sizes and could be quite colorful. The patterned China buttons were made to compliment patterned textiles made during that time. They became popular and were not overly expensive.

***Identifying and cleaning China Buttons***

These are all sew through buttons and many had stencil-like patterns or colored decals on them. They have that smooth porcelain feel to them. Many of the older ones from the Victorian era were more plain. Clean using a soft bristled toothbrush and then wipe and polish with a soft cloth.

Mother of Pearl Shell Buttons

Antique Mother of Pearl Shell Buttons
Antique Mother of Pearl Shell Buttons

These buttons have a pretty translucent sheen on them of a rainbow of colors. Some were made to be in their natural state and others were mixed with other materials like rhinestones or metals. Some were dyed and some were painted with images. These buttons feel heavier than other buttons yet some of these could be very thin. The MOP buttons that have intricately carved patterns on them tend to be valuable to button collectors.

***Identifying and cleaning Shell or MOP Buttons***

One way to identify a real MOP button is to put it against your cheek. Real MOP buttons will be very cold against your cheek. Some have noticeable layers of thin ridges or lines on them. On many you can also see brown shell markings on the back. You can clean these using a soft toothbrush and then polishing with a little bit of mineral oil. They say not to wash these with mild soaps and water because it will cause the colorful layer to come off. Using mineral oil and wiping them with a soft cloth will help restore their beautiful luster.

Bone Buttons

Bone buttons
Bone buttons

These were very sturdy carved buttons. Back in the day, there was plenty of bone and it was very easy to carve. Bone was also used to make home décor and hair accessories. They were made from animal bones, mainly cattle. As time went on imitation bone buttons were massed produced but there are ways to tell if it is a authentic bone button. The true old bone buttons will have yellowish to light brown hue to them.

***Identifying and cleaning Bone buttons***

Bone buttons were heavier than plastic buttons. They are comparable to glass buttons as far as weight. They will have uneven holes and inside the holes will be a brownish color. They can have up to three holes but the button holes will not be close together. Many will have two holes widely spaced apart. Bone buttons also have a very dry feel to them. Although the button will feel very smooth, If you look at it with a magnifying glass it should have very tiny small holes all over it. A set of bone buttons will never be the same size, only approximately. The way to clean these buttons is to wipe off with a soft cloth or you can take a lemon and slice it in half and dip it in salt and then rub it on the buttons, wipe with damp cloth and let dry.

Fabric Covered Buttons

Antique Fabric Covered Buttons
Antique Fabric Covered Buttons

The majority of vintage cloth covered buttons were round and they came in all sizes from very tiny to super large. They were made in different colors as well as different patterns and types of fabrics. There were also buttons that were made from leather, shank and all. You can pretty much identify a fabric covered button.

***Cleaning Fabric Covered Buttons***

The important thing is if you clean it, be very careful not to to scrub on the fibers. Vintages fabrics can disintegrate easily. It is suggested to slosh them around in a container with mild soap and water without any scrubbing, rinse well and pat dry. Then finish drying them completely with a hair dryer on low or no heat or set them outside to air dry.

****Cleaning Antique or Vintage Buttons in General***

It's best to take the safest route when cleaning vintage buttons. Just about every source recommended a dry soft cloth for most of the buttons. Some places said NO water at all and others said it was okay to use it on some. The suggestions I wrote were just a compilation of suggestions from several different sites. One of the most in depth and detailed guides I found about how to clean antique buttons is a PDF file which you can download and print from Button Images.com which is a top site for button collectors. You can get the PDF here. They also have a great and very detailed PDF on how to identify all types of antique buttons. Go have a look!

grahics courtesy of Ruthenia-Alba via Deviant Art
grahics courtesy of Ruthenia-Alba via Deviant Art

There are other types of vintage buttons but I've covered many of them. I need to add that I am not a button expert- not at all. This is just the information I have found through my own research from what I felt were trusted antique button resources. The photos are actual photos of the buttons I recently acquired. If anyone reads this that has experience with antique buttons I would love to hear from you and get your input.

Thanks for reading and happy button collecting!

I love Comments as much as buttons!!

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    • profile image

      ron 5 hours ago

      hi i am wanting to no more about my old buttons i have been collecting them for some time i am hoping to find help in identifing the value and timethey were made thankyou please help

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      Dora Watson 4 weeks ago

      I have been collecting buttons for the past 2 years, I have one found made of stone. My purpose of looking, is going around charity shops and finding unusal shaps designs, colour and the material they are made from.

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      Patsy 2 months ago

      Last week I was in the Blanchard Springs area of Arkansas. We looked down and saw a object that was out of place. With your help I now think that it is a pewter button. No telling how many years this was in the river or where it came from. Thanks for the info.

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      Louise 3 months ago

      Thank you for your blog, it's made me very interested in the buttons I just found in a beautiful wooden sewing box of my great grandmothers.

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      rob stimson 5 months ago

      I am trying to figure the composition of a button I found in the debris while doing demo in a plaster-and-lathe [20's-40's?] house today. It's 2 hole, 7/8" across, dark brown with some type of golden metal flecks inbedded in it, and the main embossing is opposing concave double lines arcing in from opposite sides. Bakelite?

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      Lorraine Martinson 6 months ago

      This information is so helpful. I work in a thrift store and had no idea about the different types of buttons. Thank you

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      Anne B 6 months ago

      This was the most informational site I've visited so far. Thanks button buddy!

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      Jpellerin 8 months ago

      A tip for storage-don,t mix types of buttons. Metal buttons and mop buttons will cause plastics to rot-mop will make metal corrode and the metal will make the surface of mop buttons deteriorate. So separate, and watch what you store them in. Glass jars are still the most reliable and non-reactive.

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      Lynda @ spiritofgrace4959@yahoo.com 9 months ago

      I have a Victorian high quality vest with hunting scene brass backed buttons Sure would like to know their worth and where to sell them. there are six of them

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      Sandy 10 months ago

      I have a lot of vintage buttons. Is there anywhere in Tucson or Phoenix where I can take some to find out what they are worth?

    • profile image

      Anna 10 months ago

      Nancy Smith, I am a button collector and love every button I have. study for age, material etc. I also give button shows and love to tell about them. Do you have a price you want for them?

      saharv23@gmail.com

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      Nancy S. Smith 10 months ago

      I have many buttons collected by my grandfather who died in 1948. I know nothing about the buttons and will not have time to study. I have terminal cancer and would like them to go to someone who appreciates them rather than the rubbish. Who would I contact? (I would really appreciate knowing what todo with these. I am not sure if any are valuablr

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      Gail 12 months ago

      I have some red leather buttons with a leather shank, I think they came from Germany, is there any value to them?

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      Rachelle 12 months ago

      My mom and I recently purchased 5 gallons of assorted buttons from a store that was opened in 19-teens and closed sometime in the last couple if years. The buttons were saved over the years by the seamstresses that worked there. We have thousands of buttons of all the sorts you listed here plus rubber, paper and so far unidentifiable materials. Our work is certainly cut out. We have not cleaned any as when we are finished sorting, we will leave that job to the future owners. Age patina is often an asset to vintage items and we did not know if buttons are the same. Thank you for the warning on celluloid, we will now be punching holes in the plastic baggies we have been using for matches. There certainly are some wonderful buttons in our massive collection. We will be creating a website for our collection when we have finished putting it in order. (Identifying the different types of plastic is looking to be an enormous undertaking) thank you again for thd information and also for tge references to other resources.

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      Wendy, UK 12 months ago

      Thanks for your button blog, I've just started to appreciate the different types so this info was really helpful. Wish I'd read it before I washed a batch of mixed material buttons last night, though.

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      Joy 13 months ago

      I have a button marked Burton 1904. Can you tell me about it?

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      mike 13 months ago

      I am doing an jewelry appraisal on some antique hand carved buttons made out of Jet from an old military uniform. I have no idea what to value them at. They are very cool. Jet in general is a great material. Any info? Thanks.

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      beetleb2@telus.net 14 months ago

      I have a number of older metal, leather covered, and unusual buttons... who might be interested in buying the lot? Any contact information appreciated.

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      Tina 16 months ago

      Hi, Thank You for all the information posted. I was recently awarded a lot of buttons from a NJ based company I believe to be from the later 1920's They are on original boards from salesman(most of them) and are samples. Some are loose. I want to sell them, but dont know the best place to post them and am a bit overwhelmed with prices and where to start. I know some are pearl, but believe most are plastic, some shell, maybe coconut and wood. I really think they are knock offs of greater styles and may not be worth much, but still important to those who craft. Any info would be wonderful. Thanks

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      Judith Ierlan 17 months ago

      A good site! Have you seen rubber type buttons? Where should I go for appraisals on my buttons? Is there a price list. Thank you

    • Jamie Brock profile image
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      Jamie Brock 18 months ago from Texas

      No problem Gus.. my leg needs a good pulling now and again!!

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      Gustave Kilthau 18 months ago from USA

      Ms Jamie - My apologies for wording that last comment of mine as I did. Perhaps I should have explained that the "missing button" was impossible to properly record in a photograph - or, for that matter, as a verbal description. It was "missing" and, this, incapable of being recorded or described. It was on my shirtfront the day before it went into the laundry, but it was gone the day I tried to button my shirt. Being as careless as I am about my apparel, I cannot even remember the color of the shirt, much less of that missing button.

      In other words, I was "pulling your leg."

      Regards (and keep smiling),

      Gus

    • Jamie Brock profile image
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      Jamie Brock 18 months ago from Texas

      GusTheRedneck- Hi there! I do apologize on the delayed response.I am not on HP as much as I would like to be recently. About the photo..I seem to have missed it. Did you forward it through a comment? Please let me know. I would love to help you out if I can! Thank you and hope you are having a great day :)

    • GusTheRedneck profile image

      Gustave Kilthau 18 months ago from USA

      Jamie - I was reminded to inquire - what did you think of the photo of the missing button I forwarded to you?

      Regards,

      Gus

    • Jamie Brock profile image
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      Jamie Brock 18 months ago from Texas

      Thank you Ben! I appreciate the info.

    • Jamie Brock profile image
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      Jamie Brock 18 months ago from Texas

      nancy j- Could they be wooden and white? I'm not sure. Hopefully you found out what they are.Thank you so much for dropping by!

    • Jamie Brock profile image
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      Jamie Brock 18 months ago from Texas

      Thank you jc..I'm glad you enjoyed the hub and thank you for your input!

    • Jamie Brock profile image
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      Jamie Brock 18 months ago from Texas

      Karleen...how neat that you have your Grandmas button collection! Thank you so much for stopping by and for your comment!

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      Margot 19 months ago

      Other Material Embellishment

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      Linda M. 20 months ago

      What does the acronym OME refer to when describing buttons.....does anyone know?

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      Lulu 20 months ago

      I have yellow and white buttons shaped like a Mexican hat with thread woven through the rim. They feel like wood. Does anyone have any idea what the might really be made of or their age?

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      Karleen 21 months ago

      Thank you for the information about antique buttons. I have my Grandmothers collection that dates from 1944. I have joined the National Button Society to help learn about the many buttons in her collection. there are many she sewed on sheets 15 by 24. Also a lot of buttons not on cards. So much fun thinking about her collecting all of these buttons and the hours she spent. Friends far and near she made.

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      jc 21 months ago

      Really great and informative article. I wish some of the pictures had more spefic photos of different types of catagories mentioned. It appeared the pictures were repeats of the whole collection. All in all great article. Thank you very much.

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      nancy j 21 months ago

      I recently bought a jar of buttons. I have several that are made like the photo of your bone buttons but they are definitely more uniform in color & size. What would they be made of and are they still considered vintage? The jar contained a variety of buttons, all of which seem to have some age to them. Lots of pieces of clothing and thread stuck to them.

    • Jamie Brock profile image
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      Jamie Brock 22 months ago from Texas

      Wanda, I see it's been a very long time since your comment and I do apologize. I do try to comment back each and every person that takes the time to stop by.. the time just got away from me. Anyway, hopefully you read gooseonamoose's reply about your buttons that glow. That is really interesting! I am so glad that you enjoyed the hub.. I bet your button bracelet came out super cute!!

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      Jamie Brock 22 months ago from Texas

      gooseonamoose- Thank you so much for dropping by! Interesting about the Vaseline buttons. Thank you for sharing :)

    • Jamie Brock profile image
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      Jamie Brock 22 months ago from Texas

      Terry, I apologize this is late. You may have already found the answer but if not, you can probably find a button collectors forum and post your photo there and someone may be able to help. I wish that I could be of help for you but I'm not familiar with the type button you are describing. Thank you so much for dropping by and best of luck to you :)

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      Jamie Brock 22 months ago from Texas

      Kimberly- Yes! I agree.. each one is a small piece of art. Thank you for dropping by!

    • Jamie Brock profile image
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      Jamie Brock 22 months ago from Texas

      Laura- You are welcome! Thank you for dropping by.

    • Jamie Brock profile image
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      Jamie Brock 22 months ago from Texas

      aesta1- Thank you so much for stopping by! I'm glad you found the hub interesting.. hopefully you had lots of fun going through your buttons!

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      Mary Norton 23 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      I have a few old buttons myself but I did not know how much interest there is in them. When I get home, I'll have to sort my old buttons based on your hub. You've got me engaged in this.

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      Laura 2 years ago

      This is a very useful compendium for button users and collectors! Thank you so much for your effort, time and knowledge.

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      Kimberly 2 years ago

      Thank you for your information I just received 20 lbs of celluloid buttons I could not figure out the vinegar smell. Now I know. I get it . Buttons were in a attitic for 50 plus years . I love finding buttons and sorting them out by style and color. Little pieces of art work

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      Terry 2 years ago

      I dug up a large, old button and need to find out what it is It might be .Celluloid, it has no smell or I'm just to old to pick up on it. It has an electric train engine in a cameo effect. I have a photo Can I put it up?

      Thanks Terry

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      gooseonamoose 2 years ago

      Wanda: The buttons that "light up" under UV lighting sounds like they could be Vaseline Buttons. They can be an opaque light greenish color to a transparent yellowish color. When under UV they will turn into a very bright "glow in the dark" yellowish color. Does this fit the characteristics of your buttons that flourecse? Vaseline buttons contain Uranium oxide which is what makes it glow! Hope that helps!

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      Ben 2 years ago

      Hello, Bakerlite contains a wood filler which makes them quite autuminal coloured as mentioned. It does not mean it is modern though, it is probably Catalin which is a similar resin further developed afterwards which can also be transparent! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catalin. There is a lot of detail involved in indetifying plastics and other plastic like material so its pretty hard.

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      Wanda 2 years ago

      Why do some of my buttons fluoresce under ultra violet light? Also, because of your wonderful page I made my first button bracelet.

    • Jamie Brock profile image
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      Jamie Brock 2 years ago from Texas

      s2toot- Thank you so much! I am glad that you found this hub useful for you. Hope you are having fun going through all of your new buttons!!

    • Jamie Brock profile image
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      Jamie Brock 2 years ago from Texas

      s2toot- Thank you so much! I am glad that you found this hub useful for you. Hope you are having fun going through all of your new buttons!!

    • Jamie Brock profile image
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      Jamie Brock 2 years ago from Texas

      susan spice- Those buttons sound really cool! I wish I could see them. To be honest, I am not familiar with them so I couldn't really tell you much. I suggest maybe checking on Ebay to see if you can find some similar and see what you can learn there. Best of luck to you!

    • Jamie Brock profile image
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      Jamie Brock 2 years ago from Texas

      susan spice- Those buttons sound really cool! I wish I could see them. To be honest, I am not familiar with them so I couldn't really tell you much. I suggest maybe checking on Ebay to see if you can find some similar and see what you can learn there. Best of luck to you!

    • Jamie Brock profile image
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      Jamie Brock 2 years ago from Texas

      susan spice- Those buttons sound really cool! I wish I could see them. To be honest, I am not familiar with them so I couldn't really tell you much. I suggest maybe checking on Ebay to see if you can find some similar and see what you can learn there. Best of luck to you!

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      s2toot 2 years ago

      I too love buttons and have used them in craft and sewing projects for years. I just purchased two large bags of old buttons and found many of the types you mention. Thanks for the great overview which helped me quickly identify them. Well done!

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      susan spice 2 years ago

      I have six chinese irory buttons that were sewen on to the priests robes and are beautifully hand carved into the shape of people and some have heads that turn from one side to the other all in one piece, These are from pre war China and at least seveny to eighty years old. What is there proper name for these and how expensive are they.

    • Jamie Brock profile image
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      Jamie Brock 2 years ago from Texas

      Thank you heathergreatcat.. I appreciate you stopping by!

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      Heather Walton 2 years ago from Charlotte, NC

      Very neat information!!! I'm a jewelry designer and I love vintage and antique buttons. I use them in a lot of my designs. Great article.

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      tamara Solveig 2 years ago

      Linda, it sounds like your pewter buttons are from Norway. Pewter (tinn) from (fra) (Vinja) a town or it could be the button company. The church is likely a stavekirke...a very old church- i mean over a thousand years old- of which there are several surviving in Norway. The fiddle would be a Hardanger fele - a Norwegian folk fiddle with 4 regular strings and 4 drone strings underneath. The dancing people are probably wearing bunad- (National costumes). I'm sure the buttons are lovely!! These are used on hand knit Norwegian sweaters.

    • Jamie Brock profile image
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      Jamie Brock 2 years ago from Texas

      Thank you for dropping by my hub, Linda! I have not heard of the type buttons you speak of but they sound really interesting. I found that Ebay is an excellent resource to learn about old buttons... maybe give that a try if you haven't already. Maybe someone is trying to sell (or have sold in the past) those type buttons and if so, you will be able to read the description and possibly learn more about them. I wish you the best of luck and if you do happen to learn more about them and happen to think about it, could you drop by and let me know what you find out?! You have me curious now!

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      Linda 2 years ago

      Thank you for sharing your button information. I have always had an interest in buttons since I was a little girl. I inherited my mother and mother-in-law's button tins and have been collecting buttons of my own since I was young.

      I have some Handmade (Handstoypt) Pewter from Vinje (Tinn fra Vinje) buttons. I cannot locate any information on these buttons nor do I know how old they are. There are eight buttons to a card with different designs. Some of the images look like a church, house, a violin player, two dancers and a person on a horse. The back of the button card is stamped with something that looks like "Gjestelmd". Would you have any information on these buttons?

    • Jamie Brock profile image
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      Jamie Brock 2 years ago from Texas

      Jodie Baltazar- Thank you so much for clarifying that! I was worried for a minute. I try my best to make sure my information is correct. If I fall short, I sure don't mean to. Thank you so much for dropping by my hub!!

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      Jamie Brock 2 years ago from Texas

      Similar Sam- Thank you :)

    • Jamie Brock profile image
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      Jamie Brock 2 years ago from Texas

      annie!- Thank you for dropping by!!

    • Jamie Brock profile image
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      Jamie Brock 2 years ago from Texas

      Tammy White- Thank you for dropping by! Wish I could help you out but I have no idea. Sounds like a neat button though!

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      Jamie Brock 2 years ago from Texas

      Thank you for visiting my hub! Its been a while since you commented and I apologize that I am just now getting back to you. I do not get to log in to HP as much as I would like lately. I wish I could help you with the date range of your button but honestly, I'm just not really sure. The button sounds interesting though.. hopefully you have found your answer by now. Best of luck to you and thank you for dropping by!

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      Jodie Baltazar 3 years ago

      Actually, the buttons pictured as bakelite are correct. I have a few old catalogs from button manufacturers and many of those pictured are what's in the catalog, listed as bakelite. Bakelite didn't just come in fall colors, came in pink, turquoise, blue..you name it. The housedress buttons are more modern but they're bakelite, at least according to my old catalogs! A few of those pictured were also Colt buttons, made by Colt firearms mfg..also makes the coveted 2 pc. rouge/perfume lady Cameo button.

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      Sam 3 years ago from Australia

      So many interesting buttons!

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      annie! 3 years ago

      Thanks so much for this info. I've collected buttons for 40 years or more and have saved them for retirement. I'm just beginning to find out that what I have is an awesome collection…and you've sparked my interest.

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      Donna Brothers 3 years ago

      Thanks for the info. I have a small strand of bone color buttons that have the feel of glass. But I'm not sure what they are. I'd like to send you a picture to see what you think. My email address is peacevw1965@yahoo.com. Could you email me so I could email you back. I don't know how to post a picture to this link. Thank you very much!

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      Mariann 3 years ago

      The pictures you show as bakelite and celluloid buttons are not correct. Those buttons are modern plastic, nylon buttons. Bakelite has a slippery oily type feel and are rich fall colors for the most part. Celluloid is a very thin plastic. Other than that a nice article.

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      Tammy white 3 years ago

      I found an old metal button that says "big 4" on it. No idea how old it is but I would say close to 75 years. Any idea where it came from.

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      acj 3 years ago

      I am an archaeologist and am trying to date a blue plastic button. I tried your celluloid and casein tests. I know it is not Lucite. When I get it wet it doesn't really smell at all. It has fine crazing/cracks on the back and it is molded. Do you have any idea of the date range of this sort of button?

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      william 3 years ago

      i have a first world war suit button y c v

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      Jamie Brock 3 years ago from Texas

      jbenham64- Oh yes, I love the ones with rhinestones as well.. they are beautiful! The plain white ones can be used in craft projects.. if you don't like them white, you could always paint them the color you need. Thank you so much for dropping by!

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      Jamie Brock 3 years ago from Texas

      kate Cooper- Honestly, I'm not sure. I would start off by googling button collections, going on Ebay and contacting some of the sellers who are selling antique buttons on cards or talk to a antique dealer. Hope this helps!

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      Jamie Brock 3 years ago from Texas

      ilikegames- Thank you for dropping by!

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      jbenham64 3 years ago

      Hi Jamie. Loved your article. i used to sort through my grandma's button tin when i was little. It would keep me occupied for hours. My favorite were the ones with rhinstones. A few years ago i was in an antique mall and came across jars of old buttons and when i saw the rhinstone buttons in there i HAD to buy them. Now i have lots of favorites. My boyfriend is amazed at the detail that some buttons have. He looks at buttons in a whole different way now. Tiny master pieces sewn on fabric. What do you do with the millions of plain plastic ones that are mixed in with the good ones?

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      kate Cooper 3 years ago

      Where do I go for estimating the value of a large button collection? Thousands of carded sets.

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      Sarah Forester 3 years ago from Australia

      I have a close friend that is really into this hobby, I definitely understand her obsession a little more now, this seems like a really fun hobby!

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      Jamie Brock 3 years ago from Texas

      Jade- Thank you for dropping by! Unfortunately, I do not know about the cards you have, I do not believe I have seen anything like them. They sound very interesting though!

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      Jade 3 years ago

      Hello!

      I very much enjoyed reading your article, and I was hoping you could help me. I have a few cards with buttons on them and the name "Countess" as well as a Victorian lady in a bustle dress printed in blue on the cards. Have you ever seen these before? I am looking for the time in which they were made.

      Thank you for your time,

      Jade

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      Jamie Brock 4 years ago from Texas

      Narita- That's a good question.. I'm sure it can sometimes be hard to know for sure if a button is actually vintage or not. I'm not really sure about it either... What I would do if I were you is go to Ebay and type in vintage rubber or vintage wooden buttons... that way some pics will come up and hopefully you can compare the pics with the buttons you have and make a determination that way. Other than that, there is tons of great button collectors sites that have photos as well. Hope this helps! Thank you so much for dropping by and reading my hub :)

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      Narita 4 years ago from Commerce City

      Thank you, I love reading articles, they are short and straight to the point. I too am an amateur button collector, and am always interested in increasing my knowledge in regards to identifying button type and age. I have several buttons made from wood and rubber, how do I know if they are vintage? Thanks again. P.S. Beautiful photos

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      Jamie Brock 4 years ago from Texas

      LindaSue- If you do a Google search for "old buttons with Chinese face" and other similar terms describing the buttons I am sure it will bring up some links that you can check out that may tell you what type buttons those are. You can also do a search on Ebay with those terms and it may bring up some similar buttons and you can learn more about them that way. There is lots of button collectors on Ebay. Hope this helps and thank you so much for dropping by!

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      LindaSue 4 years ago

      We found an old jar that must be from the 1940s full of buttons. Three of the buttons that are about an inch long look like faces of Chinese. How could I find out something about these buttons?

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      Jamie Brock 4 years ago from Texas

      Marie, thank you for stopping by my hub! Unfortunately, I don't really know anything about those type of buttons. Do you know what the name of them? If you Google it, I'm sure you will find some info about them. Good luck!

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      Marie 4 years ago

      Hi, I was wondering if you know any thing about buttons made from what looks like paper pulp then a kind of veneer front? I have discovered some in a pile of vintage buttons, that I unfortunately soaked in soapy water to clean?

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      Jamie Brock 4 years ago from Texas

      Thank you for stopping by, Sherri! Wow, sounds like you have a lot of neat buttons! I'm not sure how to go about figuring out the sets of buttons but I'm sure you will be able to find out something about them via Google. Have fun going through the buttons :)

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      Jamie Brock 4 years ago from Texas

      Thank you so much! I'm glad you found this useful. Yes, some of the buttons just might be vintage... Have fun going through them!

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      Jamie Brock 4 years ago from Texas

      You are welcome! Thank you for stopping by :)

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      sherri dudek 4 years ago

      your article was really helpful. I sold the family home of over 50 yrs and found a drawful of buttons in the basement that I filled a canvas bag 1/2 the size of a pillow case. Some were on cards with actresses names, one was Jane Wyman I think that was her name. First wife of Ronald Reagan. And others. So many buttons can't wait to have time to attack them Thanks to you! How do I find out about the sets? Do you know? Thanks, Sherri Dudek

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      peachy 4 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      thanks for explaining the differences of the buttons. I thought all buttons are the same, plastics and PVC. Beautiful photos and well described details. Thanks for sharing. I have a box of buttons from old clothes. Maybe come of them are vintage buttons.

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      pickpointz1 4 years ago

      This looks great, I sooo need to try this soon! Thanks!

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      Jamie Brock 4 years ago from Texas

      webrevolve- So glad you liked the hub! Have fun going through your mother's button box :)

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      webrevolve 4 years ago from Liverpool

      Wow - amazing article. Now going to inspect my mother's 50 year old button box!!

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      Jamie Brock 4 years ago from Texas

      Barbara Kay, you are welcome :) I hear one of the best places to find old buttons is at garage sales... Glad you enjoyed this hub and happy button hunting!!

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      Jamie Brock 4 years ago from Texas

      Jhoang- I know exactly what you mean. There were so many things I didn't know about them. I really enjoyed researching for this hub. Thanks for dropping by!

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      Jamie Brock 4 years ago from Texas

      condominium- My grandmother did as well.. I loved going through her button box! Glad you enjoyed the hub... thanks for dropping by!

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      Barbara Badder 4 years ago from USA

      I think I'll start looking for these at garage sales. Since I no longer have children, there isn't much that I find to buy anymore.

      This was really interesting. Thanks for the information.

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      Jhoang 4 years ago

      I never knew buttons could be so valuable, and how much there is to know about them.

    • Jamie Brock profile image
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      Jamie Brock 4 years ago from Texas

      Patty- Yes, they do feel cold on your cheek, I noticed that too. From what I understand, the ones with carvings in them are the most sought after. Perhaps you could look on Ebay and compare the ones you have and see if they have similar ones.. if you want to sell them that is. Thanks for dropping by!