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.

2017 NC State Button Society Show Cancelled

The NC State Button Society regrets that there will not be a state button show this year.
Due to increasing expenses of a 3-day show and waning membership, a proposal for a slimmed-down, one-day state show was floated to the membership. NCSBS President Cathy Buresch sent a message to all 79 members asking for feedback and potential attendance and received 18 responses. Of the 18, only 6 people indicated they would have an interest in a one-day state show.
Putting together a state show takes the participation and effort of many volunteers to:
  • Publicize the show
  • Coordinate the button dealers
  • Put together the silent auction
  • Work with the hotel on meeting rooms and sleeping rooms
  • Recruit members for registration and programs
  • And so much more

We welcome your comments on the lack of a show this year, and your suggestions for future options. What would make you want to attend and what would make it feasible for you to volunteer to help? Don’t worry, we won’t draft you if you comment!

Let’s keep our state club alive.

Save the Date: NC State Show will be held in Burlington, NC on May 13-14, 2016

You are cordially invited to the North Carolina State Button Society’s 22nd Annual Show to be held on Friday, May 13th, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. and Saturday, May 14th, 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. 


The Theme for the 2016 show is “Plastics”


Location: The Ramada Burlington,2703 Ramada Rd, Burlington, NC 27215.


Mention “North Carolina State Button Society” to receive the special show rate of $80/per night. Reservations can be made by calling (336) 227-5541. $3.00 donation at the door each  day. Our Button dealers will have thousands of buttons for sale! This show is for antique and vintage and modern button aficionados and those who are interested in the artwork and history of these items including their manufacture, design and material makeup. Costume designers, vintage clothing collectors, quilters, sewers, antique and history buffs, re-enactors, beaders, and crafters will also find this show educational, informative and fun!

Dealers at the show will include:

  • Sharon Braund, New York

  • Kevin Kinne, Tennessee

  • Pat Howard, North Carolina

  • June Chapman, North Carolina

The show will include:

  • Friday Night Program “Plastics” By June Chapman

  • Educational Display of an assortment of plastic buttons

  • Wonderful Silent Auction Items and Special Raffle Baskets to bid on

  • Buttons to purchase throughout the show

  • Button Competition (Download Tray Entry and Tray Slip Form here)


The North Carolina State Button Society (NCSBS) welcomes new members.

Regional clubs are the Eastern, Central and Western chapters. The NCSBS was formed to encourage and promote interest in collecting buttons and related items for educational and historical purposes and for personal enjoyment. Our goal is to preserve for future generations all that is beautiful, artistic and historical in buttons, in cooperation with the National Button Society.


For more information, contact Show Chairperson Cathy Buresch by email at cathybnc@yahoo.com or call her at 704-794-8634 and leave a message.

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