Yes the buttons that we use in our jewelry are actually over 100 years old! When crafting our designs, we primarily use buttons from the Victorian and Edwardian eras, circa 1880-1918. They were made from a variety of materials, including brass, pewter, glass, cut steel, and velvet. To find out more about the different kinds of buttons, see our Field Guide to Buttons. Victorian metal buttons were made in two, three, or even more layers. In the United States, Connecticut was the button-making center, while France, Austria, Germany, and England were the European centers of manufacture.
For women of the 19th century, getting dressed was a complicated procedure. There were layers of corsets to be laced, undergarments with hook and eyes, drawstrings, and finally two or three dozen buttons to be fastened to the front and sleeves of her gown.
Her buttons would often reflect the whimsey of Victorian and Edwardian women, depicting everything from her favorite flowers, Shakespearean heroines to nursery rhyme characters. Others were used to add a bit of glamour to a dress. Cut steel buttons were designed to mimic the sparkle of diamonds. And perfume buttons included velvet, onto which women would dab perfume. They truly were an important part of a woman’s dress!
When hand-making our button jewelry we preserve what is called the shank on the back of the button. The shank is the little loop, which would be used to sew the button to a garment. If a button has a looped or twisted wire shank embedded in a metal back, it is very likely a button made prior to 1918. We leave the shank in order to preserve the value of the button.
Telling which part of a piece of Grandmother’s Buttons jewelry is the antique button can be difficult for a button novice, since they do not resemble the four holed buttons of today. So we include a detailed description of the elements that make up each design on the back of the jewelry card. Each description is written by owner (and Chief Buttonologist), Susan Davis!
Antique buttons have provided us with over thirty years of fascination and interest and we hope that the new life we give them in our one-of-a-kind jewelry becomes a part of yours the way they have been in our life.