I’ve been collecting vintage buttons for a long time, ever since my artist Aunt Trisha decided to destash some of her button collection and pass them on to me and my sister. We were still in grade school at the time and now I can never pass up a bag of old buttons tossed in with old sewing notions while thrifting. I keep two tins of buttons in my closet: one is the regular, plain ol’ utilitarian buttons that come with sweaters or button-down shirts or pants. The other stores all the fancy vintage buttons that are special.
Isobel loves “playing buttons” and that usually amounts to dumping them all out on the table, examining them, explaining what types of “treasure” they are and sorting them by different classifications. I’ve sorted some of my favorites to show you.
All these buttons are solid glass, which I’ve never seen in modern buttons. The glass gives them a lovely weight and many of them are faceted so that they sparkle.
These buttons are all made from shell and have a dark abalone-tinged rainbow color or an opalescent mother-of-pearl shine. They are more fragile than glass.
All the buttons below are made of metal and all have a high level of detail.
These are some of my favorite of the plastic buttons. They are so cheerful.
Finally, all these buttons are extremely small. They must have come off doll or baby clothes. Even though they are miniature most of them still have a high level of detail on them. I’ve shown them next to a regular-sized shell button for scale.
I do plan to use some of these buttons on special projects or just to replace some of the more plain buttons I own, but I do love the fact that I have a treasure trove of beautiful buttons in my closet.