A great variety of buttons were used mainly on men's clothing during the 18th and early 19th centuries. Generally thread and fabric covered buttons were most common on civilian clothing and metal buttons were used on military clothing but button molds used for making thread and fabric covered buttons have been found at all military archilogical digs in some cases in great numbers. Some extant garments have metal buttons covered with fabric. The least common of the buttons were horn which were made in small numbers in England and exported. Thread buttons were used on the collars of men's shirts and other undergarments from the late 17th into the early 19th century. Not only were thread buttons less expensive than bone, wood or metal but they would not break during the strenuous beating and scrubbing used by the laundresses which is described in the book The Laundress.
Antique and Vintage Buttons
Antique and Vintage Buttons | Collectors Weekly
The marking is invariably produced by die stamping, which is an inherent part of the manufacturing process, and backmarks produced in this way continue to be used to the present day. The list that follows identifies British manufacturers and the backmarks they used from the earliest ones recorded until about the middle of the twentieth century. They have been collated from a large number of sources over a long period of time, both documentary and from the buttons themselves, most of which have been recovered by metal detectorists. In general, dates should be regarded as approximate, and not exclusive unless the context indicates otherwise. It is also the case that there are some differences in respect of dating between the secondary sources that have been consulted. The listing is in alphabetical order, by company name.
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Generally buttons did not appear until the 14th century. There are some objects that could be buttons dating to the Iron Age and Roman periods, these look like toggles. A complete Post Medieval cast copper alloy button. The button has been cast in one piece. The front and the back are both domed.
Have you ever thought about collecting clothing buttons? This means collecting them intentionally because that fruit jar filled with extra shirt buttons taking up space in a dark corner of your closet doesn't really count. Unless you accidentally saved just the right kind of shirt button from a really old garment, you probably won't find too much in that jar for a collector to get overly excited about. Taking the time to amass a thoughtful collection of clothing buttons can be a rewarding hobby, but only if you take it to the next level. Button collectors take simple, utilitarian objects taken for granted by millions of people each day and group them into delightful displays that make you stop and think.