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.

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.


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.

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

Getting More Out of Your Fun Buttons

The folks at Glitter ‘n Glue have a neat little tutorial on making rings out of buttons. Now before you get all uppity and let me know that real collectors don’t harm buttons to make jewelry, let me remind you of all the poor languishing buttons in your collection that:

  • aren’t valuable
  • probably would never be used for a button tray or display
  • you haven’t looked at in years

Why not get those buttons out and wear them! It’s great advertising for our hobby (you know people will ask you about it) and you’ll have a one-of-a-kind piece of jewelry.

If you still can’t bear to cut off a shank or glue a button, use a sew-though button and affix it with museum putty, which doesn’t leave any residue on the button.

Here’s the rings-out-of-buttons tutorial.

The Passing of a Dear Button Friend

Jean and John Rivers

This Mother’s Day, North Carolina button collectors are mourning a very dear button friend who was a Button Mother to us all.

Jean Ellen Cleveland Rivers passed away Tuesday, May 7, 2013 at Mission Memorial Hospital in Asheville, NC.

She was born to Ray and Margaret Cleveland on January 27, 1934 in Flint, Michigan. Jean graduated from the University of Michigan with a BSN degree in 1956 and that same year married the Reverend John Rivers.

We are not sure exactly when she started collecting buttons, but Jean was well-known in the state and also at the national level for being a worthy competitor in button awards, and placing with a ribbon (typically blue!) in everything she entered. She had a special fondness for awards that called for considerable searching and thinking and was a tireless researcher. Her latest passion was the stories of Harry Potter and she recently entered an award-winning tray of buttons representing characters and events in the Harry Potter books.

A member of the Central NC Button Club, Jean and John for many years hosted the club meeting in October at their cabin home in Black Mountain. The highlight of a day of buttoning, eating, and laughing was the pressing of apples into cider via an antique cider press. There was a fire, donuts, cider, a yummy lunch, and a favor button for all attendees chosen with care by Jean.

Apples were a theme for Jean, and many an apple button found its way into her collection from eBay, studio artists and fond friends. She and John gave the state program one year about Johnny Appleseed to delight of all who attended. The handout they provided was stapled and tied with a red ribbon – Jean never did things half-way!

In 2011, Jean was tasked with determining the show button for the them of “Oriental Influence on Buttons.” She aptly chose a studio-artist button made by Heather Smith of glass over paper depicting cherry blossoms, both as a nod to the theme, and to the upcoming 100th anniversary of the gift of cherry tress to the United States from Japan.

Many button collectors were the recipients of her great generosity. She never hesitated to share her button knowledge and her buttons with any and all interested. One time she and I were in a competition on eBay for two wooden buttons with painted wooden fruits. At that time you could tell who you were bidding against and we made a habit of pulling back when we saw club members bidding so we wouldn’t run up the bids for each other. When I saw her win the wooden bowls of fruit I congratulated her and told her if she didn’t need two wooden bowls, would she sell me one? The next week I found the little wooden bowl button in the mail to me with a lovely note. She was like that.

Jean’s twin sister, Joan Burdette of Edgewater, MD survives her, as do her husband John, five children: daughter Sallie Rivers and sons John “Jay” Rivers, Jr., Ray Andrew “Andy” Rivers,  Joseph Rivers, and Benjamin Rivers, 10 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren. Her button knowledge and diligence in collecting will be carried on in her family through two of her sons, Andy and Ben, and their families. She always kept memberships in the state organizations for her kids and grandchildren so they could stay connected to the hobby.

She will be dearly missed by so many collectors, dealers and studio artists who she encouraged, supported and shared with. Our club sends condolences to John Rivers and their family with our love and thanks for the wonderful years with Jean in our midst.

The family is accepting contributions in Jean’s name to:

Swannanoa Valley Christian Ministry
PO Box 235
Black Mountain, NC 28711

Please tell us how you met Jean or share a Jean story by typing in the “Leave a Reply” box below.