The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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Heart of the Blue Ridge

Button Collecting As A Hobby

By Florence Dieckman © 1986

Issue: February, 1986

Button Collecting is one of the top hobbies in the United States today, ranking almost as high as postcards, stamps, and coin collecting. There is a National Button Society, established in 1940, with over 2,000 members. Many states have state societies and local clubs. Here in Virginia we have two clubs, one in Roanoke and the other in Fairfax.

Relatively few buttons collected today are more than 200 years old; but the techniques used to cut, mold and decorate them had their beginnings way back.

Buttons have been hoarded and collected in America since Colonial days. No one threw any garments out without first removing the buttons to be sewn on other clothing.

In the early 1800's, buttons were made everywhere - England, France, Germany and the United States. There was constant competition.

In the 1880's young girls collected charm strings. They and their friends exchanged buttons. The story goes that when they had 999, they would meet their future husbands.

Housewives, during the depression, turned to their button boxes for an interesting and cheap hobby. In the 40's, it became a popular pass time and books were written to identify the various types of buttons.

Collectable buttons are not the ordinary kind. They tell the story of history, inventions, historical and political events, Bible stories, fables, operas, fairy tales, economic conditions, rural and city life. Also they show us the arts and crafts of many people. The animal kingdom is well represented also, with insects, lions, deer, owls and other birds, dogs, cats, lizards, snakes and even fish. They're made of many different materials, including glass, china, brass, copper, silver, bone and horn.

The purpose of the Blue Ridge Button Club is to advance the study of buttons. If you are interested, come join our group. For more information call Florence Dieckman at 703-989-9076 or write: 4200 St. David Court, Apt. H, Roanoke, VA 24018.