Buttons that is! Chances are you do. Or if you don’t, perhaps you have come across them rummaging through an old sewing tin at a relative or friends house.. or maybe in an antique store? What about that old coat on its way out the door for donation? Wherever or whenever it was, you may not have thought much about them. But these utilitarian adornments do have a story of history to tell for those willing to listen…
While I am nowhere near collector status, I do have a decent array of vintage buttons. I have a small group of plastic art deco buttons (shown) that were made somewhere between 1930-1945. With rapid growth of industrialism at that time in the U.S. and abroad, the art deco ‘look’ was evident everywhere… from fashion, to architecture to the visual arts.
After World War 1, plastic became the “it” material. Durable and cheap to produce, plastic buttons were mass produced, putting a halt to the more finely crafted buttons that had preceded them. There are four types of plastics that were used in button manufacturing. These included Modern Plastics, Bakelite, Celluloid and Composition. My group of buttons falls into the Modern Plastics category.
While there are many more fancifully designed art deco buttons constructed in other materials, my group is much simpler in contrast. Made up of primarily blues and greens, the designs are geometric, linear and bold. These buttons are all plastic, including the shanks on back.
Modern Plastic buttons were made up of two styles. Besides Art Deco, the other button category is known as “Goofies” Goofy buttons were made to imitate real objects in shape. Some popular themes included fruit, animals, as well as various popular icons of the day. These whimsical buttons were often produced in sets.. making them enjoyable from a collecting aspect.
As I become more involved in uncovering the history that surrounds these little artifacts, I can be sure that my attraction to old buttons will become even moreso. Know a thing or two about art deco ‘modern plastics’? I’d love to hear from you!