i'm posting now :)
so a while ago (as in like more than a month ago) i said i'd do a post about antique buttons... so here it is.
buttons can be curious things. i really like them, and have a fairly sizable collection of them. they really can make any vintage inspired piece of clothing you make, and can really help you date an item.
first and foremost are bone buttons. they are probably the earliest buttons you can find and were prevalent over several centuries, anywhere from the 17th to the 20th and probably even earlier in europe.
bone has a distinctive look to it, especially aged bone. it is anywhere from a creamy color to a light tan, depending upon its age and how it was treated initially. old bone can be quite fragile and should be handled with care. bone buttons tend to be very simple in shape, with little to no decoration on the button itself. the oldest bone buttons will have 2 holes, while from the 19th century onward they will have 4 holes. a good way to distinguish between bone and plastic is the archaeologist's favorite tool: put it in your mouth. specifically, lightly bite it with your teeth. you don't want to chomp down on the thing (especially if it is bone, as you will get a nasty surprise), but lightly rubbing your teeth on it can help you distinguish it. a plastic button will be significantly harder, whereas a bone button will have an amount of give. it's hard to describe what exactly this will feel like to another person, but it will be obvious.
second in age, and still very popular, are mother of pearl/shell buttons.
ahh, bakelite... every vintage lovers favorite! (well maybe not every... but you know) bakelite buttons come in a wide variety of colors, shapes, sizes and uses. they could be very simple or very ornately carved, much like their bangle bracelet counterparts. i'm a big fan of using bakelite buttons on new garments that i have constructed to look vintage... they are super cute and no modern buttons can come close to the lovely colors you find them in (i'm crazy about that rusty red and that lovely green button in this photo). bakelite has a distinctive look to it... as well as a smell. my aunt taught me the rub and sniff test at a young age with bakelite. i can't describe what bakelite smells like, but it is definitely distinctive (sort of musty plasticy smell). bakelite was only really used in the early to mid 20th century, and as such it should be on garments that coincide with that time period.
i'd say that's enough for tonight. i will continue with ceramic and glass buttons tomorrow, as well as some examples of garment specific buttons.