Button, Button, Who’s Got the Button?

Are you looking for an interesting new hobby – a hobby that spans generations and allows you to learn about art, fashion, and history simultaneously? Collectible clothing buttons can be that hobby.

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Donna Weinberg displays her button collection at the Vicksburg District Library.

Donna Weinberg, a 1978 Vicksburg graduate, has been actively collecting buttons since 2010 after finding her grandmother’s tins of old pearl and glass buttons and learning through the Fort Worth Texas club about cut steel buttons.Where do people, like Weinberg, who like to collect and learn about buttons find others who share their interest? They find them at button clubs and button shows.

Vicksburg is home to the newest button club in Michigan, the Southwest Button Box, which means monthly at the Vicksburg Bible Church, 11988 Sprinkle Road.

Organized by a local resident with help from a collector with over 10 years experience, the SW Button Box currently has five members. Whether it was antiques, quilts, grandma’s tin of buttons, or a button collecting friend who first stimulated their interest in buttons, all enjoy their time getting to know one another while finding beauty and history in the old buttons.

Through a button club, you can discover different materials used to make buttons over the centuries, be amazed by the variety of designs on buttons, and find out on what kind of clothing particular buttons were worn.

Buttons have been made of many materials. We’re not talking about the average nylon or polyester shirt buttons seen on most clothing today. Sea shells, Satsuma pottery, wood, steel, tropical nuts, and glass are just a few of the numerous materials used in making buttons.

ImageMaterials used for buttons closely follow the creation of new materials in any given period. For example, after celluloid was invented in the latter half of the 1800’s, it was soon used to make buttons. Celluloid fell out of fashion as new plastics were developed in the first half of the 1900s.

Humans have been using buttons or button-like objects as ornaments or seals since 2000-1500 BCE. At that time, buttons were more ornamental than functional. When clothing became more snug, buttons became fasteners.

Believe it or not, there is a National Button Society as well as state societies in most states. In fact, the Michigan Button Society is the oldest state button society in the country. Founded in 1940, the Michigan Button Society followed the National Button Society’s formation by one year.

The third week of March has been declared National Button Week. Please check out these websites for button collectors: http://www.nationalbuttonsociety.org or http://www.michiganbutton society.org.

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