Appalachian Button Jamboree

I’m not completely clueless when it comes to button collecting, and I even knew there was a Western North Carolina Button Club. But I recently attended my first button show and I was completely blown away!

You can’t collect old clothes without seeing a lot of buttons. I even have quite a few of them just in case I need some replacements or a random one to match a set. And I have a lot of interesting old ones to use in my own sewing. But to see thousands of buttons mounted, sorted, and ready to buy was a new experience.

Buttons are a big business to a lot of people. Even in a small local show the buying and selling seemed to be brisk. As a button neophyte, I decided to just look and learn. And I learned a lot.

One category I liked was painted wooden buttons. I actually have a few, mainly florals like the black one at bottom right. But what about that ice skater?

I also saw lots of interesting ceramic buttons. I can see how in this medium the possibilities would be limitless.

Celluloid buttons  were plentiful, but most were pricier than these examples. But look at that little clothespin!

More celluloid.

My favorites were the metal buttons. This little owl with stars and moon was great.

There were also lots of sports themed buttons, like this skier.

But “Wow”is right. These metal with enamel bits and “jewels” were so stunning!

Some of the sellers told me they got into button collected as a result of trying to find unique buttons for their weaving, knitting, and sewing projects. I can relate to that. Imagine this button as the closure of a wrap or coat.

Most of this tray of buttons had thread or textiles as part of the button. I do love the wrapped and embroidered ones.

A few sellers also had some additional haberdashery and dry goods in their booths.

There were also a few vintage sewing machines. It does stand to reason that most people who are interested in buttons would also want to see machines and ribbons and sewing patterns.

There was also a display area where members’ collections were shown off.

But my favorite thing of all was a small display of antique clothing that was laid out on a table.  Attendees were allowed to examine the garments. It’s not often that I get the chance to look at so old a garment, both inside and out. This 18th century gentleman’s coat showed many signs of having been worn and repaired quite a bit.


Filed under North Carolina, Sewing, Shopping

8 responses to “Appalachian Button Jamboree

  1. Thanks for sharing! I really enjoyed looking at these photos.
    I wonder how they dated the 18C buttons. They are pretty but some could look like more modern ones?


  2. Stunning! Thank you for all the photos. Where was this?


  3. I have a half dozen made in Germany teeny weeny metal buttons painted with flowers. I may end up sewing them onto a hat! I also have few tiny buttons that are oblong in amber coloured plastic and I wish I knew their history. As you can tell, I like teeny tiny buttons best of all! Thank you for sharing the enchanting world of button collecting! To me, they are almost like gems!


  4. What a treat! I need to look for a Button Club near me. How on earth did you resist the clothes pin?


  5. Jacq Staubs

    Buttons-fascinating? To me they are as well. I especially like the waist coat-reminds me of the colonial vest makers – they must have stored buttons / braid/trim as you mention. Thank you for this.


  6. Jacq Staubs

    PS Can’t stop looking at these !!!


  7. Susan Maresco

    Hi Lizzie, I also collected buttons for decades, and loved silver Navajo ones and Czech glass ones especially. I encountered a button shop in Oakland, CA about 45 years ago that was quitting business and so I bought lots of them then, many I still have.
    Wish I had used more than I did but still love looking at my much smaller collection now.


  8. Button collecting is in deed a very big deal. And it’s not just what you collect but how you display them. A woman in the next town was one of the preeminent collectors (she judged shows, even) — she lived to be 95. What she left behind was used to create a button museum that was very interesting. Alas, it was short-lived (legal shenanigans about the woman’s estate).


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