Archive for January, 2016

Button Lights

Buttons from centuries past illuminate our lives with their beauty, historical context, and cultural reference. This month we celebrate the “LIGHT” of buttons, from the 18th Century steel sparkles and glowing pearl, to the early 19th C. Georgian jewels with brilliant faceted settings, to the large and showy Gay 90s, and beyond.  Be sure to register for our Armchair Auction closing on February 13. It’s aglow with a kaleidoscopic array of dazzling buttons!

The Darkness of Earlier Times

Darkness was such an integral aspect of daily life in earlier times. Today we live with light proliferation. Take yourself back to the darkness prior to electric lights, prior to 19th C. gas lighting, and all the way back to the 18th C. with only candlelight, torchlight, and fireplaces. Above is a scene from Barry Lyndon, a period drama film directed by Stanley Kubrick. To recreate the feel of the 18th century, Kubrick used natural lighting, candlelight, and special lenses from NASA used in the Apollo moon landings.

Reflective Properties

Buttons of the 18th C. made use of light properties with faceted steel, brilliants, metallic foil and thread.

18th C. Jasperware in Steel

Sold in our Winter 2015 Armchair Auction for $1350.

Early Faceted Jewel

A deluxe late 18th C. jewel button set in silver. Grain-set faceted turquoise teardrop glass and crystal pastes. Sold in our Spring 2012 Armchair Auction for $377.


Picture the steel buttons on a gentleman’s coat reflecting the available candlelight at an evening affair. Enough steel facets on his jacket would make a gentleman a veritable night sparkler!

Jewels and Steel

Cut steel in half moon and teardrop shapes surrounded by blue and green paste jewels from the last half of the 19th Century. Sold at Winter 2014 Armchair Auction for $70.

The Color of Light

The end of the 19th Century showcased the full spectrum of color with gorgeous and big buttons centered with cabochons of every hue, fancy metalwork, and brilliant pastes. Kaleidoscopic color is displayed in this large foil embedded Gay 90s jewel, sold in our Winter 2014 Armchair Auction for $73.


Metallic Illumination

An 18th C.  fabric passementerie button with fuchsia and green foil, gold embroidery thread, and sequins sewn on linen over a wooden mold. Sold in our Summer 2011 Armchair Auction for $245.

A Fashion for Buttons

In the course of a century, the art of buttons went from the realm of men to the colorful world of women. And by the 1930s – into the light of the collecting world!