Friday, November 12, 2021

Button, Button...

 By Kathy Kovach 

Button, button, who’s got the button? Apparently, everyone from ancient times to today. What a versatile little accessory. So important, it gets its own national day every November 16th, (which happens to also be my birthday—unofficially, Cute As A Button Day.)

Throughout history, buttons have been fashioned from almost every material imaginable, including wood, bone, metal, fabric, and abalone. The first buttons weren’t functional, but rather ornamental, never to be worn in a row, and mostly made of shell. A 5,000-year-old button was found in what is now Pakistan. It had a decorative flat face and slipped into a loop.

The Ancient Romans, who seem to have had their hand in just about everything, tried to incorporate the button in their flowing robes. However the unseemly holes the large, heavy buttons created were unacceptable. It wouldn’t be until the medieval ages that fasteners caught on. Royalty and nobility wore tight fitting clothes, which would have been difficult to get into without separating the fabric and clasping it back together.

By 1250 A.D., French guilds started forming and were dedicated to regulating the manufacturing and use of the button. However, only those with affluence were allowed to adorn themselves with the ornate closures. Talk about overreach!

The Industrial Revolution came to the rescue for all the middle-class citizens with button envy. Buttons could now be mass produced making them more affordable.

Finally, plastics became readily available in the 20th Century. Buttons of all shapes and sizes satisfied the demands of those wishing to incorporate them in their fashion, for practical or decorative purposes. My mother had a round box, about six inches wide and four inches deep, colored red with dots on the top to look like a button. It heldwait for itbuttons! Of all kinds. Having lived through the Great Depression, it had been instilled in her to save everything savable, and buttons were easy to cut off clothing that was no longer wearable. If I ever lost a button, there was surely one in there that would do.

The variety of buttons today is staggering. Some still are made of organics such as wood and shell, while others are handcrafted pieces of art. 

Do you have any favorite buttons? Here’s mine.

Actor Red Buttons, 1966

MissAdventure Brides Collection
Seven daring damsels don’t let the norms of their eras hold them back. Along the way these women attract the attention of men who admire their bravery and determination, but will they let love grow out of the adventures? Includes:
"Riders of the Painted Star" by Kathleen E. Kovach

1936 Arizona
Zadie Fitzpatrick, an artist from New York, is commissioned to go on location in Arizona to paint illustrations for an author of western novels and falls for the male model.

Kathleen E. Kovach is a Christian romance author published traditionally through Barbour Publishing, Inc. as well as indie. Kathleen and her husband, Jim, raised two sons while living the nomadic lifestyle for over twenty years in the Air Force. Now planted in northeast Colorado, she's a grandmother, though much too young for that. Kathleen is a longstanding member of American Christian Fiction Writers. An award-winning author, she presents spiritual truths with a giggle, proving herself as one of God's peculiar people.


  1. I love this post! I have a large box filled with buttons. My mom passed down that button-saving tendency to me. I sometimes even buy them at flea markets, and my collection is large.

    1. I'd wager your collection is creative and eclectic, like you!

  2. Thanks for posting! I love your favorite "button"!! My mom and grandmothers both had button tins. I started one as well, but am not as diligent to add to it as they were. And buttons can certainly be pricey today!! And so specialized!

    1. That generation amazes me. Their resilience was such an inspiration.

  3. what a fun post. Thanks for sharing. I have always loved buttons. Probably stemmed from both my mom and grandma having lots of buttons and letting me play with them. To this day, I put buttons on clothes I sew, on greeting cards I make and I even put some on some table runners I made for friends. I still have a large jar of buttons that have been collected over the years.

  4. I loved that button box of Mom's. It probably was one of the many items sacrificed when they moved into the travel trailer. I never saw one at any place she lived after that.