Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Estate Sale Buttons... to buy or not to buy?

A lot of people ask me "where can I buy buttons?" Antique malls and flea markets have buttons, either individually or in bags or jars. Ebay has a huge selection, but they can get pricey.

My favorite place to get buttons is estate sales. The reason I like estate sales for buttons is that they are usually untouched and unsorted and in the condition that the original owner left them. If the house has had the same owner for 30 years, you'll probably find a 30 year accumulation of buttons.

However, if you go to a flea market or antique mall, the buttons will probably already have been "picked over". Somebody like me will have gone through the buttons and pulled the really good ones to sell individually.

So, all that brings me to the question in the title of my post. How do you know when to buy buttons at estate sales? The answer- I don't know, I guess I just kind of go with a gut instinct. On Friday, I was one of the first people in the door at an estate sale. The flat of buttons in the picture above was in a back bedroom. I couldn't really see all of the buttons because so many were bagged up. The price for the flat was $25.

I couldn't quite do the math to figure out if the box was worth $25 but my instinct told me "Buy It" (or maybe that was my Button Greed speaking).

When I analyze it, the "instincts" that made me buy the buttons were these little things I had picked up while I was in the house:

*a lot of the stuff in the house was very vintage, the buttons probably were too.
*someone had taken the time to sort at least some of the buttons into bags and plastic boxes, so someone else at least had some appreciation for the buttons.

*just doing a really quick count, I found at least 25 buttons that I liked, and there were a lot of buttons that I didn't count. That's not to say that I'm willing to pay a dollar a button- but I figured I could pull some to keep and I could keep the rest and they'd pay for the ones I kept.

*the last time I passed on a box of buttons, I went back 5 minutes later to get them and they were gone. "She who hesitates at an estate sale leaves empty handed".

So, do you want to see some of my buttons?

It seems like every button box I've ever bought has some tax tokens mixed in like these red ones from Missouri.
Blue buttons- my favorites are the blue on the left that look like they have whipped cream centers.

These are glass, mother of pearl and the group in the center is metal that has aged with a nice patina.

This was the contents of one of the baggies that pulled me in and made me think "BUY". I really liked the gold hat shaped button on the upper right.
But, when I opened the bag, little pieces of broken buttons fell out.

I call these "Button Crumbies". I've heard that plastic buttons should never be stored with metal buttons. Something in the old plastic can make the metal rust and something in the metal can make plastic fall apart.

After I dusted off the crumbies, the buttons were pretty again. Bakelite, celluloid and mother of pearl- some of my favorites.

I still have more sorting to do, but what do you think? Did I make the right button decision?


carol fun said...

Looks like you got your money's worth - those are great buttons. My favs are the gold/yellow/orange ones -- I like'em bright!

Andy's Attic said...

Yes, you made the right decision. And I like your thought process about to buy or not to buy!

lynn said...

wow .. can i send you money and you can pick me up some of these awesome beauties lol .. with ra i dont get out much.. i love seeing all the creations and beautiful buttons out there.. i just saw that sleigh you had created. its gorgeous.. and i think should be put on a poster or something.. its a true work of art. how about a calendar with your creations on it?
thank you so much for sharing with us and have a blessed holiday
filled with love and family
big ladybug hugs

Into Vintage said...

Absolutely! I hope you feel the same way. :-)

Nita Jo said...

I love the buttons you got! My favorite is that hat... having a little button envy over that one!

Laurie said...

I love the "whipped cream" ones, too, and the mother of pearl "striped" ones. I like that you found many of different shapes -- that is always a plus because you can buy a huge bag and find mostly rounds which is always dull. $25 seems steep but there's more to see so it might have been worthwhile! If you can part with the nicer ones, that is -- always the difficult, at least for me! How funny that I have never seen those tax chips!

Kathy said...

Good decision! You use a similar strategy to mine. If there are several buttons that catch my eye then I will pop on it because you can figure there are more good ones you just haven't seen yet.
The estate buttons are a LOT more fun than the ones at the antique mall because they haven't been picked and you never know what treasure you will find.

Linda said...

You definitely made the right decision. What a marvelous find.

marieDee said...

I'm not a button collector, but those look pretty interesting to me. I think you made a good buy.

The Feathered Nest said...

Oh Beth...I know that feeling...you know, "button greed?" The minute I see old buttons it washes over me!!! Wonderful post sweet friend, hugs and love, Dawn

Gmama Jane said...

I'm new to this blog via Sew i Quilt! I loved playing in my mother's button tin and when I got married, she surprised me with the button tin for my very own!! My children played in the box, I added buttons over the years and recently I went through and sorted by color. I have some real keepers and didn't know it! I'm happy to have found your blog and would like to invite you over to my blog

Bev said...

These were well worth the buy! Wish I could find stashes like this!

Now, do you throw them in a big button bath or wash separately or not at all?

Mary Helen-Art Saves Lives said...

OMG you hit the mother load....the buttons you are are spectacular!!! Blessings. Mary Helen

Sharon said...

Great post! I go to estate sales every Friday and a couple of times I've missed out on buttons because I didn't pick them up right away.

I think you made a great choice!

Becs said...

It looks like it to me. All that matters I think is that you are happy with them. If that's the case then of course it was a great buy! Love the colors!!! Becs

Lisa said...

I love this post. The bundle with the pearl buckle, glass & mother of pearl buttons were worth the $25 in my opinion. I do love those blue ones too. Did you wait until you got home to open them all? That's my routine. Cannot really look until I'm home, in bed & I lay them out on a tray & drool.

Jeanie said...

You scored. Between the ones you can remarket and those you can use in your own work, $25 is a steal! What did YOU think?

Sweet Annabelle said...

Lovely! Looks like you scored some really special buttons!

Autena said...


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...