EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 93 - April 20, 2003 - ISSN 1528-6703     7 of 7

Collector's Corner: Hooked on Buttons

By Diana Hefti

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Buttons are one of those things that are so common most people don't give them a second thought. So, when I tell people I collect buttons, I get lots of strange looks. I have to explain that I am not interested in those plastic buttons you see on dress shirts. What I collect are buttons with character!

There are so many different types of buttons it seems there is something to appeal to every collector. Some people collect buttons based on the type of material they are made from, like glass, pearl (shell), vegetable ivory, Bakelite, wood, metal, enamel, etc. Other people collect buttons according to the design on them.

Nearly every possible thing has been pictured on a button at one time or another. Some of the popular design themes include animals, insects, plants, flowers, objects (like hats and buckles), people, mythological characters, architectural structures, transportation (like cars, boats and planes), and even erotica. Many people also collect uniform buttons of all types, including military forces, police, fire, railroad, shipping and many more. Buttons are a great cross-over collectible as they fit into so many categories. They are also small in size, making it easier to store or display your collection.

Even though the public is generally unaware of button collecting as a hobby, there is a long history of organized collectors here in the United States. The National Button Society was formed in 1938. There are also button clubs organized on the state and local level. For new collectors, or anyone wanting to add to their knowledge of buttons, joining a club is the best way to learn. Some benefits of club membership include hands-on examination of different buttons, newsletters with articles on buttons, and experienced collectors to share information.

While belonging to a club and seeing buttons in person are the best way to learn about them, eBay offers another learning experience (and shopping opportunity). With so many buttons up for auction at any one time, you can browse through them all, or search out particular items of interest. eBay offers everything from common shirt buttons to rare and expensive works of art. By viewing the pictures and reading descriptions, a person can learn about the different types of buttons and decorating techniques. And where else can you literally "shop around the world"?

While you may get lucky and find buttons at a garage sale, you have a better chance of finding buttons to interest you on eBay, where literally thousands of items are offered. The main place to look for buttons on eBay are under the Collectibles: Vintage Sewing: Buttons Category:

As always when buying from an auction service, the bidder needs to realize that not all the sellers are experienced or knowledgeable.

Button collecting is an interesting and fascinating hobby that appeals to many different people. Check out the listings on eBay and visit a local club. It won't be long until you're "button-hooked"!

To contact the National Button Society, write to: The National Button Society Miss Lois Pool 2733 Juno Place Akron, Ohio 44333-4137

About the author:

Diana Hefti has been a collector and hoarder her entire life. Fortunately, her husband Larry is also a collector and not only understands, but contributes to the collectible clutter in their home. Diana's current collecting passions are buttons, and children's illustrated dog and horse books. She is an aspiring writer, with articles on collectibles appearing in the World Collector's Net on-line magazine and the British Web site 50 Connect. Diana is also the editor of the Washington State Button Society's Button Bulletin. Some of her other interests include selling on eBay (eBay ID: heftifam), maintaining her Web site (Diana's Buttons at, training and showing her Australian shepherd dogs (, and of course, her family.

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