What Actually Makes a Button Collectible?
Technically, even that aforementioned jar of old shirt buttons holds some collector value. There may be someone out there trying to see just how many different shirt button variations they can come up with. But the majority of the buttons avid collectors seek have some special qualities.
Many collectors look for buttons reflecting different styles to document history. After all, the way buttons were manufactured 200 years ago certainly differs from today's techniques. Clothing buttons were made from hand cut glass, molded clay, and hand-decorated porcelain in the past, among other materials. This contrasts starkly with the machine molded plastic buttons we find on most modern garments.
"Famous potters and silversmiths of [the 18th] century fashioned buttons with the same beauty as their vases and jewelry," said Sally C. Luscomb in The Collector's Encyclopedia of Buttons (Schiffer Books).
Another theme in button collecting is portraits, which look like miniature works of art. Finely crafted and expertly painted buttons are more desirable than those decorated amateurishly or with decals.
Some button collections are made up of a few of this and a few of that, basically whatever the owner finds to be appealing.
By and large though, buttons in odd shapes and sizes, comprised of unusual materials, or of an unusual origin can be the most appealing to avid collectors, and hold the most value.
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