World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Buttons

Article Id: WHEBN0000583126
Reproduction Date:

Title: Buttons  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Ian "H" Watkins, Military uniform, Militaria, Todd Carty, Making Fiends (web cartoon), 2006 in music, The Shadows, BET: Uncut, Simon Grant, 2006 in British music charts
Collection:
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Publication
Date:
 

Buttons


In modern clothing and fashion design, a button is a small fastener, most commonly made of plastic, but also frequently of seashell, which secures two pieces of fabric together. In archaeology, a button can be a significant artifact. In the applied arts and in craft, a button can be an example of folk art, studio craft, or even a miniature work of art.

Buttons are most often attached to articles of clothing but can also be used on containers such as wallets and bags. However, buttons may be sewn onto garments and similar items exclusively for purposes of ornamentation. Buttons serving as fasteners work by slipping through a fabric or thread loop, or by sliding through a buttonhole. Other types of fastenings include zippers, velcro and magnets.

Buttons in museums and galleries

Some

The Button Room.

Early button history


Buttons and button-like objects used as ornaments or seals rather than fasteners have been discovered in the Indus Valley Civilization during its Kot Yaman phase (circa 2800–2600 BCE)[5] as well as Bronze Age sites in China (circa 2000–1500 BCE), and Ancient Rome.

Buttons made from seashell were used in the Indus Valley Civilization for ornamental purposes by 2000 BCE.[6] Some buttons were carved into geometric shapes and had holes pierced into them so that they could be attached to clothing with thread.[6] Ian McNeil (1990) holds that: "The button, in fact, was originally used more as an ornament than as a fastening, the earliest known being found at Mohenjo-daro in the Indus Valley. It is made of a curved shell and about 5000 years old."[7]

The earliest functional buttons were found in the tombs of conquering Hungarian tribes from the late 9th century.[8] Functional buttons with buttonholes for fastening or closing clothes appeared first in Germany in the 13th century.[9] They soon became widespread with the rise of snug-fitting garments in 13th- and 14th-century Europe.

Materials and manufacture

Because buttons have been manufactured from almost every possible material, both natural and synthetic, and combinations of both, the history of the material composition of buttons reflects the timeline of materials technology.

Buttons can be individually crafted by artisans, craftspeople or artists from raw materials or found objects (for example fossils), or a combination of both. Alternatively, they can be the product of low-tech cottage industry or can be mass-produced in high-tech factories. Buttons made by artists are art objects, known to button collectors as "studio buttons" (or simply "studios", from studio craft)The most famous button artist is known as Renarldo Galvies. He was born in 1958 in France and he is known for crafting some of the worlds finest buttons to some button collectors.[10]

Nowadays, hard plastic, seashell, metals, and wood are the most common materials used in button-making; the others tending to be used only in premium or antique apparel, or found in collections.

Decoration and coating techniques

Historically, fashions in buttons have also reflected trends in applied aesthetics and the applied visual arts, with buttonmakers using techniques from jewellery making, ceramics, sculpture, painting, printmaking, metalworking, weaving and others. The following are just a few of the construction and decoration techniques that have been used in button-making:

Styles of attachment

  • Shank buttons have a hollow protrusion on the back through which thread is sewn to attach the button.[18] Button shanks may be made from a separate piece of the same or a different substance as the button itself, and added to the back of the button, or be carved or moulded directly onto the back of the button, in which latter case the button is referred to by collectors as having a 'self-shank'.
  • Flat or sew-through buttons have holes through which thread is sewn to attach the button. Flat buttons may be attached by sewing machine rather than by hand, and may be used with heavy fabrics by working a thread shank to extend the height of the button above the fabric.
  • Stud buttons (also pressure buttons, press studs or snap fasteners) are metal (usually brass) round discs pinched through the fabric. They are often found on clothing, in particular on denim pieces such as pants and jackets. They are more securely fastened to the material. As they rely on a metal rivet attached securely to the fabric, stud buttons are difficult to remove without compromising the fabric's integrity. They are made of two couples: the male stud couple and the female stud couple. Each couple has one front (or top) and rear (or bottom) side (the fabric goes in the middle).

Types of fabric buttons

  • Covered buttons are fabric-covered forms with a separate back piece that secures the fabric over the knob.
  • Mandarin buttons or Frogs are knobs made of intricately knotted strings. Mandarin buttons are a key element in Mandarin dress (Qi Pao and cheongsam in Chinese), where they are closed with loops. Pairs of mandarin buttons worn as cuff links are called silk knots.
  • Worked or cloth buttons are created by embroidering or crocheting tight stitches (usually with linen thread) over a knob or ring called a form.

Button sizes

The size of the button depends on its use. Shirt buttons are generally small, and spaced close together, whereas coat buttons are larger and spaced further apart. Buttons are commonly measured in lignes (also called lines and abbreviated L), with 40 lignes equal to 1 inch. For example, some standard sizes of buttons are 16 lignes (10.16 mm, standard button of men's shirts) and 32 lignes (20.32 mm, typical button on suit jackets).
The American National Button Society (NBS)[19] has its own button sizing system which divides button sizes into 'small', 'medium' and 'large'.

Buttons as containers

Since at least the seventeenth century, when box-like metal buttons were constructed especially for the purpose,[20] buttons have been one of the items in which drug smugglers have attempted to hide and transport illegal substances. At least one modern smuggler has tried to use this method.[21]

Also making use of the storage possibilities of metal buttons, during the World Wars, British and U.S. military locket buttons were made, containing miniature working compasses.[22]

Buttons in politics

Historically, buttons are a very important part of Western and Near-Eastern culture. They were valued by many European groups for practical and lucrative reasons. Buttons can range from crude buttons made at home out of wood to modern, cheaply made plastic buttons to highly decorative and ornate buttons of precious materials. They are so revered in certain parts of the world that there are some countries where it is illegal to destroy a button.

The mainly American tradition of politically significant clothing buttons appears to have begun with the first presidential inauguration of George Washington in 1789. Known to collectors as 'Washington Inaugurals',[23] they were made of copper, brass or Sheffield plate, in large sizes for coats and smaller sizes for breeches.[24] Made in twenty-two patterns and hand-stamped, they are of course now extremely valuable cultural artifacts.

Between about 1840 and 1916, clothing buttons were used in American political campaigns, and still exist in collections today. Initially, these buttons were predominantly made of brass (though horn and rubber buttons with stamped or moulded designs also exist) and had loop shanks. Around 1860 the badge or pin-back style of construction, which replaced the shanks with long pins, probably for use on lapels and ties, began to appear.[25]

One common practice that survived until recent times on campaign buttons and badges was to include the image of George Washington with that of the candidate in question.

Some of the most famous campaign buttons are those made for Abraham Lincoln. Memorial buttons commemorating Lincoln's inaugurations and other life events, including his birth and death, were also made, and are also considered highly collectable.[26]

See also

References

Bibliography

External links

  • Button-making in Birmingham, England in the 1800s
  • Scans of original 1830–1940 US patents for buttons & related tools & machinery
  • Online collection of historical buttons at the Button Museum

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.
 



Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.