Victorian Dragon Buttons
Mythical and mystical, dragons have been the subject of human legend in almost all cultures, from ancient Babylon and Greece to early Norse mythology. Today, dragons are once again front and center in popular culture, this time as the three fierce children of Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones: Drogon, Rhaegal, and Viserion. In celebration of the series’ final episodes, we are releasing a limited-edition collection of necklaces and earrings made with authentic late 19th century dragon buttons!
Scroll down to see the pieces we have available, and note that each is one-of-a-kind: if you like something you see, buy it now!
The dragons on our buttons all conform to the Western image of the dragon as a large, winged, four-legged creature capable of breathing fire. This version was an invention of the High Middle Ages in Europe, and was based on a conflation of earlier dragons from different traditions. (For instance, dragons in ancient China were snake-like creatures without wings who were highly intelligent and brought good luck). Daenerys’ dragons look very much like those from 11th-13th century European texts, but they are different in one important way: their allegiance to a human being. Medieval dragons were considered evil monsters to be overcome or killed, and were often seen as stand-ins for the devil, as was the dragon St. Michael killed in the Book of Revelation (see below).
We collected these dragon buttons for our Button Museum in 1994. Many are larger versions of the buttons we’re using in these jewelry pieces! All were made in the 1880s through the early 1890s, the height of the Victorian craze for unusual brass “picture buttons.” Women would wear one to three dozen of such buttons on their gowns, and gravitated not just to the usual subjects of flora and fauna, but also to unexpected images such as dragons, insects, snakes, and warriors!
An hour searching the internet yielded these fabulous twelve dragon buttons which, like the origin of dragons themselves, come from a variety of cultures and aesthetic traditions.