Buttons on their original cards by the same maker.
Virtue, Liberty,and Independence is the state motto of Pennsylvania. The motto of was officially adopted in 1875. The meaning of the Pennsylvania State Motto reflects the attitude & hope of the people of New York following the outbreak of the War Of Independence in 1775-1783.
The images of horses, eagle, wheat, plow & boat are all on the state flag of Pennsylvania.
These brite cut buttons with brass birds were used on a wedding dress in 1886. White wedding dresses became popular in 1840 after Queen Victoria married Prince Albert. Before that, wedding dresses came in many colors.
During the Middle Ages & Renaissance, colors had symbolic meanings and wedding dresses were made in a range of colors. Blue was a popular choice as it represented chastity but brides also choose colors like green, red & yellow.
Grapes were a popular theme among Victorian buttons. Grapes often represented Christ the with fruit & leaves symbolizing the Christian faith. Grapes themselves represented the sacrificial blood of Christ. The leaves stood for rebirth. The vines a representation of bounty.
Grapes are one of the earliest cultivated crops & the fruit & their vines are sacred to Bacchus, the Roman god of wine. As such, these vines take on a jovial symbolism, representing celebration & abundance.
These are just a few examples of antique buttons with a grape motif.
A Bacchante or Maenad, female followers Bacchus, the god of wine.
Carved mother-of-pearl over abalone.
Black glass with silver & blue luster.
Cattail design with interior twinkle rim.
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.
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.