Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Wandering Wednesday

Button Cutting Machine and ToolsButton Cutting Machine, Illinois State Museum

A little known industry in the late 1800’s and early half of the 20th century was button making.  Although many of the large factories were focused along the Mississippi River, home button cutters could be found anywhere there were shells to be harvested. 

My grandfather was one of these button makers, hand cutting and polishing beautiful shell buttons (popularly known as ‘pearl’ buttons for their shiny mother of pearl surfaces).

Learn more about shell button history here.

9 old CARVED MAMA of PEARL flower star hexagon triangles VINTAGE SHELL BUTTONSVintage Buttons, random lot of 8 large flat Mother of Pearl buttons, off white cream coloredPrincess of the Forest    Antique Lace and Silk CuffGolden Pearls Antique Button Pendant


  1. do you have any buttons your grandfather made?

    buttons are one of those collector's treasures. i, intending to collect *everything*, have a couple tins of vintage buttons which i love to sort through and organize, and i even use them sometimes!

  2. Sadly, no, I wish I did! If I had some, I'd use them in a collage I want to make for the baby's room, along with some of my grandmother's tatting.

    I love collecting little things too! My purse looks like a 3 year old's pockets :)

  3. Cool post! I always loved my button collections, but I never started one of my own. She was the amazing seamstress in our family. The only seamstress, actually. (For now.)