I do like buttons…

green fan buttons

…really rather a lot – and vintage buttons, especially.  I’m afraid this post will expose me as a bit of a button nerd.  This last week I had the opportunity to visit Jessie’s Button Box in Bath.  It’s button heaven in my book.  Jessie has been collecting buttons for lord knows how long.  She’s knows stacks about their history and has many tales of button production throughout the 20th century and earlier still.  Sadly, she’s been unwell for some time so on my last couple of visits she hasn’t been behind the counter.  But, there are still plenty of beautiful and unusual buttons to browse.  Here’s just some of the beauties I picked up last week.

new buttons

The majority of these are made of casein – a milk by-product (yes, odd) used for buttons from the late 1800s up until around the middle of the last century. I also got these wooden 1930s marvels, which must surely make good earrings?

pink wood buttons

These came home with me too.  I’m not sure what exactly they’re made of but they’re very unusual and look pretty old.  I think they’ll be great with some Scorched Earth-ness.

old buttons

Somehow, I’ve collected rather a lot of buttons.  If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’re fond of beads.  I’m hoping this enthusiasm will extend to buttons and all their possibilities, because I thought I’d share some pics of some of my favourites, all of which I’ve found at Jessie’s.  These deco-y numbers need a good clean but aren’t they fab?

geo buttons

Then there’s these narrow Bakelite ones, which also say ‘earrings’ to me.

bakelite narrow buttons

I can’t decide whether these next ones are too big for earrings, but I’m rather reluctant to part with them.

wood triangle buttons

I did part with one of these big 1920s casein pieces  (it was the centre piece to a necklace), so I’ll probably end up hoarding this one indefinitely.

big 20s button

I’ve picked up quite a lot of bakelite from Jessie’s place.  There were six of these once.

red bakelite

Here’s one more lot before I leave you.

jonquil buttons

This is just a small selection from my collection.  Jessie’s Button Box is decidedly pre-www, so I’m afraid I can’t share a link.  But, if you’re in Bath, you can find it in the basement of the Bartlett Street Antiques Centre.  I’ve already started making some pieces with my new buttons.  I’ll be back to share some tomorrow.

4 thoughts on “Button-age…

  1. Claire,
    I’m fascinated, how come I’ve never found Jesse! I share your love of buttons.
    Next time I’m in Bath I shall def go and find Jesse! I use them on my hats and other knitted accessories as well as in jewellery. May be my inspiration will come back with some lovely buttons

    • I was wondering if you’d see this, Pauline. I had actually been thinking I should ask you if you knew of it because I thought it would interest you and was pretty local. You should *definitely* go!

  2. Thanks so much for sharing your collection as well as what you know about them. I’ve got a collection of buttons too but I know very, very little. It all started with my great grandmother’s button tin and has extended to any buttons I can find at thrift stores, antique stores, and yard sales. It’s a sickness really! To have a button shop to go to would probably KILL ME! :)
    Anyway, love your buttons and I’m hoping you’ll share more later!

    • Ah – Great to find another button fan. I think all grandmother’s must have a button tin – or, at least, they used too. Fortunately the button store isn’t on my doorstep, or I’d be in real trouble too!

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