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Old And Sold Antiques Digest Article

Romance In Collecting Buttons

Author: Harry A. Packard

( Article orginally published March 1947 by Hobbies )

Even if I did not desire the buttons and had no intentions of collecting and mounting the specimens I think I would still pick up buttons, at least now and then; there is nothing which I have ever collected which brings the romance as does an old button box. There is romance in every box. Sometimes the box is dug out of an open attic. The roof has been shingled and in the box there will be bits of broken shingle butts, nails and a liberal assortment of shoe buttons! This generation does not know much about button shoes; they will, if they search old button boxes!

Of course I am, speaking of New England and of country places. "My mother had these buttons on her goto-meeting dress." The little old lady pushes the wood and foreign matter to one side and lovingly fingers the buttons. "My sister who died had these buttons on a little gingham dress." They are cunning little calico buttons! Maybe there is a tear in the eye over these buttons, yet again brought to light they revive memories sad or pleasant as the case may be.

"My husband had these buttons on his army overcoat." The lady who had just passed the three-quarter century mark fondled the buttons which she removed from her late husband's coat after he came back from the Spanish-American war.

"The children on rainy days," and this is the average little old lady speaking as the button picker goes over the assortment, "love to get this box and sort out the buttons." To which the writer adds probably more children have "played" in button boxes than ever fondled dolls or gathered around their childhood indoor games.

The writer gave 50c for the first box of buttons he found. There wasn't much in it but he traded the buttons off for a marble base lamp and sold the lamp for three dollars!

The second purchase was an old charm string and on it or in it there were two paperweights and five tiny types. I found a tarnished brass button which attracted my eye. Later I polished it and found it was-the button from a confederate soldier's coat taken by a northern Yankee, no doubt, in the Civil War. At least, I found it in a button box in a Maine attic. Was the soldier dead? Does the button tell of Antietum or Gettysburg ? At any rate it now shines like a thing of jov forever and occupies a vantage spot in my "collection'."

Buttons from wedding gowns. Buttons from the clothes of middle aged folks who did not live to reap their rewards. The soldier coat. Buttons that kept the warm clothes tightly across the chest of the fond offsprings as they trudged through snow to school. Small wonder that buttons are attractive-they are so romantic!



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