Monday, August 8, 2022

More Button Love...

Button bags appeal to so many readers that I'm following up on conversations with some of you.  Here are additional topics you might find interesting:

Beth and Sue both brought up Charm Strings.  The Victorians loved to collect things--including buttons.  The sentimentality of the Victorians even ascribed a meaning to charm strings.  Each button had to be different and the folklore dictated that the 1000th button would be given to a young lady by her true love.  

Although they come up for sale from time to time, I've never purchased one.  Charm strings are expensive and I don't know enough about buttons to determine if the item is real or a fake.   

Sue sent this article about them.  And here's another one with more history.

From a quilting point of view, it's widely believed that charm strings spawned a particular kind of quilt: Charm Quilts.  No two fabrics were alike on the original version of this quilt.  A great article is here for you to read.


Many of us like pearl buttons.  But none of us have the devotion to the fasteners like the Pearly Kings and Queens.  The "Pearlys" as they were/are often called originated with a street sweeper named Henry Croft (1861-1930).  Although some street traders decorated the side of their pant legs with pearl button, Henry was an all or nothing kind of man.  He adorned his entire suit with pearl buttons which not only got him noticed but spawned a variety of followers.

The Pearlys are still active today.  A great article on the group is here and you can see a video Sue sent over here!

Years ago, I found a pair of wooden shoes adorned in pearl buttons ala Pearlys.

The shoes spawned a big conversation on Pearlys with my friend Earl who was an antique dealer.  One question we had was how the heck heavy are those pearl suits?  Numerous articles cited that the suits could weigh as much as 30 kg.....or a whopping 66 lbs!


Before the development of plastic buttons, about 20% of buttons were made of vegetable ivory.  Vegetable ivory is similar in appearance to ivory elephants are killed and it is a renewable resource that makes it an excellent alternative to real ivory.  

Vegetable ivory is made from the seeds of certain palm trees and many artisans use the product now for their works.  What is particularly interesting is that many sewing notions were also made from this product.  A favorite 19th century/early 20th century use was small portable sewing kits, thimbles and needle holders:

Measuring tape:

Pin cushion on sale at Etsy:

So we conclude another look at least for a while!

Have a safe and happy day!

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