Whether you call him Neptune or Poseidon, this god of the sea was a favorite mythological design on Victorian buttons. He is always pictured with his trident, & sometimes on a shell or with seahorses. Here are a few of his many incarnations.
Several types of Victorian metal picture buttons with dragons and winged beasts. Includes one depicting Saint George slaying a dragon.
Antique Victorian crane buttons made in Paris, France, on original card with blue metallic tint. The crane, stork, or heron are 3 similar looking birds with similar symbolism dating to ancient times. Fifteen species of crane inhabit five continents.
Greek & Roman myth described the dance of cranes as one of love, joy & a celebration of life. The crane was associated with the sun god Apollo & is a sign of Spring. In Japanese, Chinese & Korean culture, the cranes fabled lifespan of 1000 years has made it a symbol of longevity, immortality & happiness.
The Japanese Crane has a red crown & white body. It stands nearly 5ft tall, with a wingspan of more than 6ft & is considered one of the most magnificent. These large & powerful wings were believed to carry people to higher levels of spiritual enlightenment & souls to paradise. The Japanese refer to the crane as “the bird of happiness;” the Chinese as “heavenly crane,” believing it to be a symbol of wisdom.
I often wonder about the reasoning behind some design choices of button manufacturers in the 19th century. Some designs include everyday objects such as the corner of a lacy handkerchief, dice, horseshoes, buckles, bows, tassels, wreaths, fringed pillows, shells, medieval weaponry, umbrellas, plant containers, vases & more. The design on the large unused buttons of this card are a decorative box on a fancy lace doily.
Different types of lion buttons. Top:Storybook button of Sampson Wresting the Lion. Middle: Doorknocker style brass figural lion heads. Bottom: Heraldry style lion with shield.
This design is said to be based on an etching by Peter Fiotner, a Swiss sculptor who lived from 1485-1546. It has winged beasties on a a boat & an oar whose end has a giant bearded devil with horns.
Full cards of unused antique Victorian & Edwardian buttons; a great way to motivate me to create more jewelry.
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.