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.
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.
Several types of Victorian metal picture buttons with dragons and winged beasts. Includes one depicting Saint George slaying a dragon.
Dignity & Impudence, inspired by the popular 1839 painting by Sir Edwin Henry Landseer.
Mans best friend immortalized in button form. Includes a couple of sporting buttons & various breeds.
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.
Teeny tiny Czech glass buttons on original cards, c1920s. Buttons measure about 1/4". I imagine these trimming some gorgeous creation that flappers like Louise Brooks wore.
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.
A bit too plain for jewelry, these lovely silk buttons are perfect for costuming & re-enactors. The 2 cards at the top have a subtle stripe, while the set at the bottom has a braided center. The braided buttons are in a hard setting, most likely vegetable ivory. All have padded backs to sew through. Because these buttons would be more permanently attached by being sewn on, they were probably made for garments that weren't laundered as often such as coats & vests.
Nearly a full card of pierced brass buttons with floral designs. Four different flowers among swirling leaves.
In the Victorian era, people enjoyed the use of symbolism in their everyday objects to provide additional meaning & transmit secret messages of love & friendship. There was entire "language of flowers," in which different floral arrangements conveyed certain feelings & messages. Even the placement & direction of a stamp on correspondence could convey a secret message of the heart.
One might expect anchors to represent the navy or military. In fact, the anchor was often paired in Victorian jewelry, accessories & buttons with a cross & heart. This trio represented faith hope & charity (or love), with the anchor meaning hope.
This card was made in Paris, France & the buttons still have their bright gold finish.