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Brief Button History

When I was a little girl, my siblings and I spent many a weekend at my Granny's house. My favorite thing to do was to sit on her big afghan covered bed and book through her button tin. She must have had millions, everyone a different color and size. I loved it and would love to have my very own button box, maybe I'll start one. :0) I came across this account of button history and thought I would pass it on. Enjoy!

  • 2000 BC
    The earliest decorative buttons were unearthed at archaeological digs in the Indus Valley. They were made from shells of various sea mollusks, carved into circular and triangular shapes, and pierced with two holes for sewing them to a garment. Historians have determined that buttons were purely ornamental for almost 3,500 years.
  • 13th Century
    Baggy, free-flowing attire was beginning to be replaced with tighter, form-fitting clothing. A belt alone could not achieve the new look, and pins were easily misplaced. Buttons became popular as garment fasteners.
  • 16th Century
    Metal and jeweled buttons were used in abundance! French King Frances I ordered 13,400 gold buttons from his jeweler, which were then fastened to a single black velvet suit. Louis XIV is said to have spent over $5 million on jeweled buttons.
  • 18th Century
    The first buttons were made in the United States by Caspar Wistar, a German immigrant. The design on buttons often reflected how the wearer felt about issues of the day, such as scenes of the French Revolution and engraved eagles after the American Revolution.
  • 19th Century
    During her long period of mourning, Queen Victoria used black jet buttons almost exclusively, setting a trend that resulted in black glass buttons becoming the most popular style of this era.
  • 20th Century
    Art Nouveau, two World Wars, the Roaring '20s and the playfulness of Disney characters all influenced buttons. In World War I, the British Army used 367 different kinds of buttons, and spent $500,000 per year just for the paste used to polish them.
  • 21st Century
    Buttons of the 21st century are yet to be determined, but the trend is towards decorative and fun. Use buttons to embellish a collar or lapel, accent a pocket or seam, or create a decoration of your own. When it comes to decorating, cast your mind back to your childhood button-box days and let your imagination be your guide.


  1. Wow! Those are some very interesting facts. Can't wait to share them with darling daughter. *Ü*
    Thanks for sharing.

    ~ Christina
    HsKubes HomeSchool Haven
    HsKubes Haven for Home
    Christian Military HomeSchool Mamas

  2. My grandmother had a lot of buttons. I didn't spend much time at her househ but I do remember her having a TON of buttons. She wouldn't let us play with them though.

  3. Good night! I never knew any of this! What a wonderful history lesson on buttons!!

  4. very interesting! Thanks!

  5. Oh, what memories you brought back! I remember my mom's button tin and how I could play for hours with the buttons...I think I need to find some buttons for my girls :)

    Really enjoyed coming across your site today through the CWO blogring!

    In Christ alone,
    blog team,


Hey thanks in advance for leaving a comment, sure do appreciate it!!

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