Personalized Buttons Make a Statement, Whether it is About One's Business, Personal History, or One's Beliefs and Interests. They are a Way Of Stating "This Is Who I Am, This is What I Care About."
Though the modern use of buttons typically advertises business or group affiliations, historically they have been used for many purposes, and collecting these items has developed into a subculture and big business.
A Brief History
Buttons first came into use during the late 1700s, and for a century were used mainly during political campaigns to show party affiliation and candidate preference. Each candidate or party had buttons made up to hand out to supporters. They were a convenient and very mobile way of advertising in the days before electronic media made mass advertising possible.
Before long, marketing experts saw the potential of this medium in the everyday promotion of goods, and soon buttons depicting everything from brands to businesses to cartoon characters began to appear.
Today they are a staple at trade shows, organizational meetings, carnivals, and shops. The nostalgic value of buttons has created a demand among collectors from all over the world. There are many websites devoted to listing, valuing, and advertising buttons by their level of desirability and demand.
Buttons for Collecting and Trading
Buttons as collectibles fall into several different categories: their historic value, nostalgia factor, or personal value, though many buttons are all of these things.
These are typically buttons that commemorate a significant event in history, such as presidential campaigns, major events in history, and military buttons.
The nostalgia factor is usually relevant to a particular time period or event that is collectively remembered. A very popular example of this is the yellow smiley-face pins from the 1970s. Other examples include:
- Major festivals, such as Woodstock.
- Political conventions.
- Movie openings or art exhibits.
- Cartoon characters.
- Sporting events, such as the Olympic Games or World Series.
- Companies and brands, especially early advertisements, or companies that are no longer in business.
These are buttons that mean something special to the collector, whether it is a collection of buttons depicting a favourite band, a hobby, a sports team, or a cause.
How to Collect Buttons
Some people begin to collect buttons quite by accident. They see a button they like or that has meaning to them, and their collection just mushrooms from there.
If one decides to take up button collecting as a hobby, it is best to take an organized approach. This is for the purpose of display, upkeep, and ease in trading.
Here Are Some Tips on Collecting and Trading Buttons
- Decide on the focus of your collection, the more specialized it is, the greater the personal and monetary value.
- A cork or foam board is best for displaying a collection. Buttons attach securely, they are light-weight and portable, and the collector can switch out and rotate the display items easily.
- Before you trade, know the value of what you have.
- Learn the etiquette of trade and swap events; Disney has an entire booklet and how, when, and where to trade their items. There are websites that offer guidelines for the beginning trader.
By David Sheath