Thursday, November 14, 2013

Don't Do This With Your Buttons

 IMG_7058

reposted from BethLeintz.typepad.com

An antique dealer once told me that since most dealers don't go to school to learn the "trade", we get our education from our mistakes.  Usually those are mistakes in what we buy.  Even though I've been doing this for 15 years, I still make mistakes.  I guess that means I'm still learning.

At an estate sale last weekend, I saw buttons, lots of buttons, buttons on cards.  Buttons in a bag or a jar will make my heart beat a little faster. 

Buttons that have been put on cards by other collectors make my heart skip a beat. They're special, because someone went to the trouble to collect them, lay them out, attach them to cards.

When I saw this button card at an estate sale, I was overcome with button lust and I bought the card without really considering my purchase.

Button card close up
My first mistake was assuming these were glass buttons.  They LOOK like glass, but I think they're all plastic.  Worse than that, they had been attached to the board with wire- METAL wire. 
Metal and plastic, especially old plastic, do not mix well.  The metal in the wire causes the plastic to deteriorate and crumble.
Before broken
 
When I tried to take this button off the card....

IMG_7062

...the back fell right off and the button crumbled. Button crums- ick!

Broken buttons
The same thing happened with this flower button.

There were plenty of clues that this wasn't a great purchase:
  • Many missing buttons.
  •  
  • The wire holding the buttons to the card was green colored from corrosion.
  •  
  • It's pretty easy to tell the difference between glass and plastic.  Glass will feel cold when you hold it next to your cheek.
At the same sale, I bought another card of buttons, all "V" for Victory buttons from the WWII era.
V buttons metal
 
These buttons have some condition issues, too; but I really like keepsakes from WWII homefront era .

V buttons
These buttons had been attached with wire, too; but I very carefully took them off.  A few crumbled, but these were keepers.

Lessons learned- don't buy in haste, make sure you can live with the condition of whatever you're buying and don't mix metal buttons (or wire) with plastic.

13 comments:

andrea creates said...

i see them like that all the time but never thought about the metal/old plastic not being a good mix.thanks for the tips : )
they sure are pretty though!

Curtains in My Tree said...

Thanks for that information I will remember this for sure not to purchase plastic buttons attached with wire

what do you suggest to attach with besides just thread and needle? thanks

Tami Hacker said...

Beth, too bad those buttons were in such bad shape.

It is mainly Celluloid combined with metal that will decompose if not not properly stored: dry conditions, no extreme temperature changes and left open to air exchange. Otherwise the combined chemicals will let off a gas and cause decomposition.

A good way to secure buttons is with plastic-covered telephone wire. Just make sure no metal wire is exposed when securing the button.

GardenOfDaisies said...

Oh, how sad that all those wonderful old buttons were crumbing and breaking because of the metal wire. I got to see some of ^Tami's ^ button collection last week. Really amazing.

tam said...

Another lesson learned! Love the V buttons!
tam@ spinstersnacks.com

Idell Mulhern said...

Very good article -- made me cry to see the crumbling buttons. But, more inspired to get my buttons properly on cards. Love the WWII buttons.

Sweet Annabelle said...

Ugh! So disappointing! But I LOVE the 'V' buttons you got to keep - have never seen any of those.

Blessings,

Susan

Laurie said...

I think I always prefer to actually sew the buttons -- even on a card. But coated wire is the next best thing! I love those Victory buttons -- what a find!!

The Library Lady said...

I just stumbled upon your blog through "Ash Tree Cottage". I am not a blogger, I am a librarian by trade. I love all vintage, no matter what. I have a button can that belonged to my grandmother. In her day nothing was ever thrown away. When clothes were worn out they were cut up for rags. The buttons were always removed and put away in "the can". Have you read the Button Box Mysteries by Kylie Logan? They are wonderful. The character owns a button store where she doles out information, sells vintage buttons and solves the crime. So far she has: "Panic Button", "Hot Button", "Button Holed". Try them. I hope you will like them. I just loved them.

Thanks for sharing.

Diane
The Library Lady

Denise said...

I love learning from You-Thank You-Denise

Carol said...

Oh no! I would never have thought that about the plastic buttons and the metal. And some of the plastic ones almost look like glass. Goodness.

Anneliese said...

I came to your blog because of my idea to open my first blogpost in 2010 and you were my first commentator at all. Then I did not know much about blogging and I am wondering now whether I ever said thank you for your comment.
Your button experience is very informatiive.

Roselynn Sullivan said...

Aha! One time I bid on ebay. A card of bird buttons. They had been stored in a garage for years. I bought, opened and was dismayed to discover they had used pipe cleaners for attaching. So....metal buttons, metal ties, wet garage equals ruined buttons, completely?I had paid $50.
But wait! One button looked pristine. It was a silver rooster button, shown in Big Book of Buttons its value $100. I do love that button. Rose Sullivan

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