Tidbit: The Difference Between Vintage and Antique Buttons 

By Cathy Buresch
Vintage buttons and antique buttons have many things in common.  They both were used as closures for clothing, some were sew on and some have some sort of shank in order to attach the button to the clothing, to name a few.  But notable differences include the following:
Antique buttons must be approximately 100 years old or older and the button must retain at least half of the original character, which means that if the button is fully restored it has lost its antique status.
Vintage buttons are between 50 and 100 years old but also apply to a specific era or year.

22nd Annual Show – “The Wonderful World of Plastics”

May, 2016

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The North Carolina State Button Society held its 22nd annual show May 13 – 14 at the Burlington Ramada.  Show theme was “The Wonderful World of Plastics”.  2nd year at the Ramada and the staff was very accommodating and made the show all the more easy to manage.

Show Highlights Included:

  • The educational display showing various Plastic button items and talking to their uses was beautiful and amazing!  Brightly colored and creatively displayed the viewer was sure to walk away with a greater appreciation for these buttons.
  • On Friday night June Chapman gave a fascinating overview of Synthetic Polymer Buttons, Section 12.  She shared specific details regarding hot needle testing and what you should be seeing and smelling for.
  • The Silent Auction offered a myriad of buttons, books and button related items.  Thank you dealers and members for your donations.
  • We had a great year in tray competition!  Thank you if you were one of the participants who entered a tray!
  • Our four beautiful Raffle Baskets were a big hit, as always.  Plastic buttons could be found in every basket along with books, button collecting supplies, button frames, chocolates, and wine, just to name of few of the items found in many a basket.

June demonstrates the use of the hot needle tool to test synthetic polymer buttons.

Our grateful thanks to these members who made our terrific show happen: 

Show Chair:  Cathy Buresch

Welcome Sign:  Joy Childress

Publicity:  June Chapman

Registration: Gillian Bostick, Ann Abarno, and Joy Childress

Educational Display:  Pat Howard, June Chapman, Susan Reding and the Western and Central Button Clubs

Tray Check-In:  Mary Mason

Judges & Clerks: Helen Vance, Gillian Bostick, Kevin Kinne, Mary Mason, Virginia Parsons, Corey Iungerich and Cathy Buresch


35 Competition trays were entered this year.

Dealers: Kevin and Marilyn Kinne, Russa Milburn, Pat Howard, June Chapman and Melanie Cramer

We welcome your feedback about what you did or didn’t like about this year’s show, or what you think would improve the show. Please reply to this email with your suggestions.

SHOW IN 2017?  We are uncertain at this time if we are going to have a state show.  Stay tuned to this website to find out any further show information.

Best Wishes to All and Happy Buttoning!


In Loving Memory of One of NCSBS Founders, Patricia Koehler

Category: Button Information [Edit] In Loving Memory of One of NCSBS Founders, Patricia Koehler, May 12, 2016

 Patricia Koehler, Obituary

It was with great sadness that I learned of Pat Koehler’s death last evening.  Pat passed away peacefully on Wednesday, May 11, 2016.  She was one of the original founders of the North Carolina State Button Society, an active member of the NC Central button club as well as a member of the National Button Society.  A mother, grandmother, great grandmother, teacher, author and very dear friend, she will be greatly missed.

There is a lot to Pat’s story, which will have to wait for a later time when all of the details of her life and death are known, but in the meantime please keep her family in your prayers as their loss is very deep.

Pat will be missed by button collectors from here to Pennsylvania and beyond. Her knowledge and love for this hobby was so expanse that she happily mentored a number of us newer collectors.  Her grace, kindness, giving nature, and her consideration for others and her surroundings will all be memories that each of us who knew her will hold dear to our hearts.


Button Collecting: The Whole World in Miniature (Discover Vintage America)

A delightful antique button - steel cup with cut steels and pearl background

Leigh Elmore from “Discover Vintage America” visited the National Button Society Convention in Springfield, Missouri last month and came away convinced that button collecting is a spectacular hobby.

From her article:

When someone offers up the statement “I’m a button collector,” the image emerges of plastic shirt buttons typically used in the apparel industry. But buttons are so much more – cultural bellwethers of trends, art styles and societal perceptions. Name a material, any material, and it has been used in button production. How about political statements, organizational affiliation, employer identification, cosmic links, religious overtures? How about flowers, plants, animal life, hobbies, Eros, classical renditions? These subjects and nearly everything imaginable have been represented on clothing buttons.

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves!

Who gets attracted to button collecting? People who sew, quilt and knit. People who enjoy research and learning. People who enjoy the hunt for that special button to complete a tray and who can afford a button, which can cost as little as $1.00 on eBay, at a button show, or in your local fabric store. In the article, Millicent Safro, owner of Tender Buttons, perhaps the most famous button store in the world,  is quoted as saying:

At first it was an interesting odd thing to do,” she said. “But as I dug into the history I wanted to learn about the things that we had. Collectors seek out everything about a button from the maker, and the materials which are endless. It’s a constant act of scholarship,” she said.

For the complete story on the writer’s national convention experience and some great pictures of buttons and button people, click here.

Speaking of conventions, don’t forget to mark your calendar for the next North Carolina State Button Society Show – our own mini-convention. It’s right around the corner in May 2015. For more information, click here.

What Is a Button Club Anyway?

People may wonder what a button club is all about. I can’t speak for other button clubs, but here’s the way our button club works.

What is a Button Club?


We meet in our members homes, usually once a month, but we often end up skipping a month or two during the course of the year when several of our members can’t attend due to other commitments. We have a schedule and each member hosts the meeting in their home once or twice a year. The host is responsible for providing drinks and light snacks for the meeting.

Every meeting has a co-host who is responsible for bringing a dessert for the group and the members each bring their own lunch entree. We hold our meetings on Saturday and start about 10:00 with people arriving throughout the hour. Members put out buttons for sale or trade and the first hour is time for shopping and chatting.

Next we have a business meeting and share updates about upcoming events, news in the button world and any plans our club has for the upcoming state show. During the business meeting we have a door prize. Every member can draw a number to win the door prize by paying a quarter. The more quarters a member gives, the more chances they get to win the door prize. Whoever wins the door prize donates the door prize button for the next meeting. It’s a fun and easy way to build up our club treasury a little each meeting.

After business comes lunch and during lunch we have a “Ten-Minute Tidbit.” Everyone in the club takes one or two turns a year providing a tidbit, which may be showing a recent purchase and identifying something interesting about it or sharing something brief about a button topic. It can be almost anything.

After lunch we have a program, which we also take turns giving. Our club is fortunate to have a large box of prepared programs that any of us can choose from, or we can research a topic ourselves. Everyone knows about the program in advance so they can bring buttons to share on the topic. One of our favorite programs is “Show and Tell” where we each bring buttons or button-related items to share with the group. After the program we shop and visit some more!

You can tell that our club puts a lot of emphasis about learning about buttons. What we all find so much fun is learning about a new type of button at a meeting, then getting interested in collecting that type of button. A new door is opened at every meeting!


Beautiful Backgrounds for Buttons: The Landscape Alphabet

Charles Joseph Hullmandel's "Alphabet Landscape"

I came across a stunning alphabet made of landscapes created by 19th century lithographer Charles Joseph Hullmandel. Hullmandel was a major lithographic printer and publisher in London where he opened a press in 1818. He was responsible for numerous technical developments, including lithotint and color printing.

What captured me about these images was what a wonderful background they would make for a button display! These images are owned by the British Museum, but they make the images available for your use if you register with them and tell them what you will be using the image for. You can see the collection here and register to use an image here.

Note the two little figures on the lower left corner of the letter “B.” Are they fishing?

New Online Resource for China Buttons

China Buttons Galore

Many years ago, a group of dedicated china button collectors created the China Exchange, an online resource to share information about china buttons from the ordinary to the extraordinary. The site now has a new home located at http://www.chinabuttonexchange.com/  

Visit the site for news in the china button collecting world, to read about a new calico book in the works, to tour the Bapterosses Factory Museum in Briare, France, to view simply stunning china buttons, to discover a list of reading materials, and to uncover places to shop for china buttons.

Inga Ladd and Thomas Skovronsky have a goal of publishing a new calico book and need high resolution scans of about seventy-two rare calico patterns to make this calico book a reality.   Read about The Calico Project for more information and to help.

In Loving Memory of NCSBS Member and Innovator Paul Rice

Paul Rice

It was with great sadness that we learned of the death of Paul Rice on Friday, November 8, 2013. Paul was a member of the Georgia and North Carolina state button clubs and a member of the National Button Society.

Paul became involved in buttons when he inherited his grandmother’s button collection. As a retired Navy engineer, his keen mind sought order and organization and he would ultimately establish one of the most comprehensive online button resources available today, Button Country. This website, free to the public and now managed by the National Button Society, gives visual representation to over 6,000 buttons classified in the Blue Book. One of its most stunning features is the ability for the viewer to “roll over” each button and see it flip to reveal the back of the button.

Paul served as the National Button Society Division IV Chair, researching and categorizing button-related specialties such as buckles and clasps, button covers, shoe button covers, button hooks, costume trimmings, links, studs, netsuke and Obi Dome. He directed a 60-member group effort to review and revise Division IV and his articles in the National Button Bulletin on each of the sections provide valuable historical background.

As a very active member of the Central NC Button Club, Paul routinely drove 3-4 hours to join meetings in Charlotte and Greensboro. He created and managed the NC state website. He wrote numerous articles for the North Carolina State Bulletin and created posters, advertising pieces and attendee programs for the state show. He also took pictures of the trays and the events at the state show and gave the main education program several times. I will never forget his presentation of the “Mikado.” Interspersed with well-researched facts about the Gilbert & Sullivan show, Paul treated us to music from the Mikado, explaining the story, the characters and the origination of the buttons produced at the time. He researched button patents and devised new mounting methods for Division IV button-related specialties. His mind was never at rest, and he seemed to have more energy than all the rest of us put together.

Paul is sorely missed by button collectors both here and abroad. He loved working with the Junior collectors, he loved collaborating with other collectors and he had a tremendous commitment to making collecting accessible to everyone.

Paul is survived by his wife of 52 years, Mary “Gene” Rice, in Evans, Georgia, a son, a daughter, six granddaughters, and one great-granddaughter.

You can read the National Button Society Memorial for Paul Rice here, which includes comments from collectors who knew and loved him.

Button Projects for the Holidays Including Links to 12 Button Craft Resources

Button Tree Ornament or Necklace or Napkin Ring or...

I’ve been collecting buttons for many years, but never heard that November 16th is National Button Day! I know March is National Button Month, but the November date is a surprise. In honor of this aforementioned special day, Bead & Button has made four free button projects available here.

This got me in the mood to look for more holiday button projects that might be just the thing to put a some button zing in your life. Click on the links below to get a little inspiration!

Button Craft Books on Amazon – some books have a “LOOK INSIDE” link so you can view the pages

Button Crafts Resource Page – 10 different projects from different craft blogs

HGTV Button Crafts – 5 fun projects

Cute as a Button – Amazing Crafts From Around the Web – a great collection with some simple projects that are really delightful – I especially love the black-faced sheep picture – perfect for all those white and cream buttons we all end up with

Wrapping Gifts with Buttons – lots of simple and some more involved projects – all lovely!

Button Tree Ornament – if you only have time for one project, this might be the one you would choose. Don’t forget – trees come in all colors; don’t think you can only make green trees!

Holidays Clothes Pins – this project knocked my socks off because it is so simple, yet so versatile. Easy peasy!

24 Fun Things to Make With Buttons – there are a few old standards here, but there are also some recipes for making edible buttons

Making a Button Bowl – maybe a little messy, but pretty simple and what a neat gift!

DIY Infinity Scarf With Buttons – decorate a store-bought scarf, or make one of your own – maybe from that sweater that doesn’t fit anymore!

Votive or Tealight Candle Holders – get the glass holders from the dollar store!

Does Anyone Else Watch “Project Runway” to See the Button Wall?

Lots of button collectors sew, or used to sew, and I am no different. I watch Project Runway, the show where clothing designers are given tasks and a limited amount of time to produce a garment. Every week the designers go to a fabric store in New York called Mood to purchase the fabrics, trims, notions and BUTTONS for their designs. One of the highlights of the show for me is Tim Gunn, the designers’ mentor, framed against the button wall, giving instructions to the designers.

Someday I’ll go to Mood and see that wall! Want to come along?

Tim Gunn in front of Mood's Wall of Buttons