A while ago, at Mother's Birthday Party to be precise, she walked up to me and placed a dirty, elderly, lidded basket in my lap with "you like buttons don't you? I found these sorting through stuff and I thought you'd like them" (for thought you'd like them read yuck! Dirty! Can't be doing!). I said thanks. After a brief pause whilst she showed her friend what was inside & removed Uncle Bill's gold military cufflinks & his set of mother of pearl & gold dress shirt studs, the rest was mine ( oh well, I would have been obliged to return them anyway!) On first inspection it was generally agreed I was totally crazy for doing anything but finding the nearest bin! (What can I say? My family are odd!)
So, I brought them home and what with one thing and another, the basket waited patiently on my work bench until Friday evening when I thought I would sort the buttons. And this is what I found. It took about 5 hours in the end, it was however, not only immense fun, it was a tour through the history of about 4 generations. Sadly all the rusted, and perished had to go. As did a lot of the 1970's buttons. The 70's got many things right, but gold metal coated on plastic wasn't one of them.
However, there were buttons back to the 1870's. Sadly, many too perished (rubber for your under garments), or too rusted (boot buttons, shirt studs). But what did survive is a real treat. A whole collection of mother of pearl and abalone in all sorts of sizes. Bakelite by the bushel. Wooden ones, and cubic ceramics from the 1920s. And glass, opaque and clear, beautifully patterned and plain. And some really lovely 1920's (ish?) Czech. But my favourite was hiding at the bottom and could so easily have been discarded. Made for an evening gown and all sewn on to net it's the most delicate collection of seed pearls, bugal beads and sequins. Whilst I don't whether I shall ever find that special place for it, it will always be treasured