Over the past few months, I’ve shared some of this year’s hot collectibles. Vintage buttons are a great collectible and are some of my favorite collectibles. Buttons can be found in a variety of unexpected places. But right now, the buttons to collect are the vibrant colors in pink, green, blue, and red from glass to plastic. Now add some actual buttons made from shells and more.
So what makes a button collector? As you search for a particular button that you want or own, you will no doubt find yourself getting more and more involved in the world of button collecting. You will find yourself unable to resist that certain button as I enjoy bakelite buttons, so don’t resist that urge, it’s a wholesome hobby.
Collecting buttons is a cheaper hobby than most other antique collecting hobbies I have, and these little treasures are really fun to find. Generally, they can range from a few cents each to a few hundred dollars each. Only the rarest and most pristine buttons bring high dollar values and these type of buttons are very hard to find these days.
Buttons are easier to handle, and they’re booming in antiques, collectibles, art, and upcycled sewing projects. My favorites are these colorful “Made in China” collectible buttons that were all the rage in the 1930s. My other favorites are the 1940-1950 buttons that once sold for 10 cents to 29 cents for a card of four or five buttons. These now sell for $5 a card. Bright colors and unique pink and red buds that look like flower swirls.
Pull out this collection of buttons or start one to add to your summer quilt project to turn it into a work of art. Also, an easy way to use buttons on a small quilt is to use them when attaching stitches.
So many cute buttons can be found and used with the newfound interest in sewing, knitting mittens and sweaters, and other craft projects. You’ll also notice that many cottage-style collectors like to embellish their handmade pillows with pastel-colored buttons to complement the floral fabric quite well. And don’t forget the Boho buttons on those pillows, either.
There are button clubs, button conventions, button fairs, button websites where antique buttons can be found, as well as antique and thrift stores, garage sales at markets Flea.
Erica Thilges of New Generations of Harmony says, “We don’t run out of buttons. From jars filled with buttons, to bags of buttons in assorted colors, to individual button cards, we’ve got it all! Glass, shell, plastic, metal, wood, hand painted, you name it! Button cards range from 50 cents to $6. Recently, a vendor brought shell buttons attached to shells from the Mississippi River Button Factory. We love the regional story on them, priced at $12.50 each.
Sarah Kieffer, owner of Sarah’s Uniques & Jim’s “Man” ticks, says, “In my shop in St. Charles, I have a great selection of buttons in jars and full cards. You can buy a scoop for a dollar, a pot for around $6 to $10. A single card is 25 cents each. I have found women finding so many projects to use them, like on a handbag or an apron as a closure or on other projects as well.
Treasurers Under Sugar Loaf, Brenda Jannsen, says, “Buttons are always great to use on duvets to tie a duvet top and we have buttons in the jars. Traveling the road with a little quilting stop at Treasures and finding some buttons, a sewing basket or a bag to put your work in.”
Shayna Dais of Winona’s Rusty Bucket says, “The Rusty Bucket girls use buttons to create projects. I have many of my buttons sorted by color for “quick picking” when crafting. I also have many in old cigar boxes.
Sandy Erdman is a Winona-based freelance writer and certified appraiser who focuses on vintage, antique and collectibles. Send feedback and story suggestions to Sandy at