From the time of my earliest recollection, my mom had a button box. It was filled with every conceivable button that was made at the time. Buttons were never discarded and were reused on new garments when needed.
When my sister and I had a sick day from school—which meant we were close to death—we could play with Momma’s button box. I would sort them by colors and sizes or just look through them time after time. What is it about button boxes that intrigue us? I recognized many of the buttons from dresses that had been worn out and shirts that my brother had worn until they were threadbare, but the buttons would live on in the box until needed again. The button box contains history.
My button box today contains beautiful buttons that I have collected. I actually have two: one for utilitarian purposes that contains all the spare buttons that come with ready-made garments and one for my collectible buttons. The collectible buttons are from my grandmother’s box, or they are special finds.
The pair of pearl buttons with the rhinestone centers dates back to the 1700s and are from an officer’s uniform. I found these several years ago at a wonderful little shop in New Orleans, Zula Frick’s button shop. I don’t think her shop is there anymore, much to my sadness.
The other one is a single button with an intricate design that I just love. I found this at an antique store and just had to have it. Can you even imagine the garment that sported this?
Friends have given buttons to me, and I treasure them. One of my special button gifts was a delightful ring box made from an antique salt cellar. The lid is made of four buttons that are glued in a stack. Notice the bottom button fits inside the glass cellar while the others are artistically stacked creating the handle. The top button is a shank rhinestone button that crowns it.
You could make these so easily as presents for special friends, especially if you have button treasures that you would like to share. Salt cellars are available at antique shops. I love this and have it on display in my office. What a great birthday gift or Christmas present to make for a special friend.
Do you have button box memories?