Perhaps it was the influence of heraldry images on livery in the UK. Or it may have been the Arthurian revival in fiction & non-fiction stories of the 19th century that made armor & weaponry a popular subject for Victorian buttons. The last button above depicts Jean La Hache, aka Jeanne Hachette, a French heroine who helped to defend the town of Beauvais in 1472. She took an ax to an invading soldier who had scaled the city walls & was joined in battle by other women to defend their town. In this scene she is poised to attack one man while another falls to his death. The city celebrates with a holiday in her honor every June.
Many serious button collectors are against cleaning antique buttons. However, since I am not a collector but a user of antique buttons, I prefer to clean them & bring these miniature pieces of art back to their former glory & beauty. I once believed that cleaning a button would devalue it. Now I'd rather uncover the mysteries under 100 years of rust, grime & verdigris.
One of the first buttons I cleaned revealed a hidden strip of copper that was etched with a Greek key design. Just as we feel renewed after a good cleansing shower, so to are these buttons brought back to life.
Nearly a full card of pierced brass buttons with floral designs. Four different flowers among swirling leaves.
A charm string or memory string was a 19th century pastime which consisted of collecting buttons & other small mementos & stringing them together.
Young women of the 1860s-1900s would have parties in which they would exchange buttons & stories associated with them, Rules dictated that buttons couldn't be purchased for the collection & had to be gifts from other collectors, suitors, friends or family. The gift of a button was considered lucky & the stringing of the buttons on a string enhanced good luck.
Strings were often left in view of visitors in order to encourage donations as well as conversation starter by serving as a memento & reminder of past events. The string became a physical reminder of the button owner & times associated with that person.
Lore has it that girls who collected 999 buttons would meet her true love after adding the 1000th. Other stories claim the addition of the 1000th would doom the girl to spinsterhood. One thousand button strings are rare & most were much smaller. This one has about 150 buttons.
_In the late 1800’s William Bouguereau was one of the most popular painters in France. In 1880, his painting “Young Girl Defending Herself From Eros,” took the Paris Salon by storm. His romantic style of classical imagery was a hit with the public. This button was made in Paris & is a replica of his famous painting.
Antique metal picture buttons with cupid, angels, fairies & putti.
Another great haul of buttons still on their original cards. or just barely still on the card as is the case in the last photo. Top buttons are much more detailed than I'd originally noticed & have an early Art Nouveau floral design over a green background. Gray buttons have a tiny butterfly in the design. bottom card of twinkle buttons with tinting.
Antique buttons with designs of plant life, unused, on their original cards. The top 2 images are of black glass buttons, the others are metal picture buttons.
Victorian twinkle buttons, that have a reflective inner layer that is meant to provide additional shine & brilliance; unused on their original cards.