But·ton /ˈbətn/

“A button is a fastener that joins two pieces of fabric together
by slipping through a loop or by sliding through a buttonhole,”
per Wikipedia.

You’ll unearth more about their evolution therein,
or give these tidbits and Bonus References below a quick look through
for fun highlights, including when WSBS came into play:

  • 2800-2600 BCE: The Indus Valley Civilization gets credit for the earliest buttons, made from seashells. These weren’t quite the buttons we know today – they were more decorative than functional.
  • 12th Century: The word button appeared at around this time and stems from either the French bouton for bud or bouter to push. Whatever the basis for the word, the French were quick to spot the potential of the button and by 1250 had established the Button Makers Guild
  • 13th Century: Buttonholes become all the rage in Germany! This allowed for easier fastening and unfastening of buttons, making clothing more functional. (There is some evidence that buttonholes might have been used even earlier by the Ancient Persians, but Germany gets the credit for widespread use in Europe.)
  • 16th Century: Button mania ran unabated, and in 1520 reports tell of a meeting where King Francis I of France, his clothing bedecked with some 13,600 buttons, met King Henry VIII of England, similarly weighed down with buttons. (See BBC article below)
  • 19th Century: The Industrial Revolution hits the button biz. Machines and synthetic polymers (plastics) make button production faster and cheaper, making buttons more accessible to everyone.
    • 1938: Button enthusiasts unite! The National Button Society (NBS) is established to promote education, research, and appreciation for buttons.
    • 1944: The WI State Button Society advances the mission of the NBS, focusing on button collecting and appreciation within the state of Wisconsin.

Today, buttons continue to add style and function to our clothes. They come in all shapes, sizes, and materials, and can be a great way to express your unique personality. And, while Home Ec classes may no longer teach these things, there is a proper way to sew on a button?’ (See below)

Button Collecting as a hobby has also been around for decades! You’ll find many state and local organizations with like-minded enthusiasts gathering to learn the history, social status and generations of stories behind these little pieces of art, connecting to exchange ‘oohs and aahs’ over ‘tins of memories.’  We encourage new comers of all ages to join the fun!