H. Simmons Signed Brass Round Buttons, Seven, With Original Black Box.

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H. Simmons Signed Brass Round Buttons, Reversed Embossed Image Of a Male Wearing a Top Hat Smoking a Pipe, Seven In Total, 3 Large and 4 Small, Comes With Original Black Box.

 

Brass buttons have been made by the million and in a variety of designs that excites specialisation within the hobby. Many of the buttons made are for military uses and represent every individual regiment. Civilian uses include those used for uniforms for public servants, livery, club and society, schools, colleges, hunts, shipping lines, sporting clubs, corporation, transport and tramway together with those on domestic blazers. Full highland dress for the Scots would be lost without the splendid array of silver-plated buttons used on men’s coats. Collectors of railwayana include buttons covering each of the railway companies of interest.

The most utilitarian button was the ubiquitous brass trouser button. They have a similar date to overall buttons, from the late Victorian to the 1930s. Trouser buttons are one-piece brass and often have a maker’s name on the back. The fronts may have impressed names and addresses of wholesalers and outfitters. The buttons are practically worthless but are nevertheless an important part of our button history.

Birmingham was the centre of the world’s button-making. There are records showing that Birmingham was producing buttons as far back as 1166! In 1700, there were 104 button manufacturers, at a time when men were paid 7 shillings a week (35p) and children one shilling (5p) a week when they reached the ripe old age of ten years.

The main manufacturers at the turn of the last century were probably Firmin, Gaunt, Jennens, Armfield, Pitt, etc. Their names often appear on the backs of buttons. Collectors look for these back marks because the age of a button can often be determined by the maker’s address on the back. Firmin's is a well-known example. The firm’s history goes back to the 18th century and the company had at least 15 different addresses and back marks. These have been researched and listed by enthusiasts, using old trade directories.

While blazer buttons can be flat, most others have a domed surface stamped from sheet brass using dies that are not difficult to make. This makes personalisation economic for relatively small numbers. The buttons may be left as manufactured and need re-polishing at intervals or are lacquered or plated with chromium or silver. For polishing, it makes life easier to slide buttons into the slot of a button stick and these are also collectible.

Apart from uniform buttons, there are also buttons made largely from brass such as Czechoslovakian Twinkles, Austrian Tinies, painted metal, metal-mounted, openwork buttons and so on.

These may be a little too specialised for you but there are two categories of utilitarian brass buttons that you might want to include. Both were produced by the billion and were the mainstay of the Birmingham industry. The first is the overall buttons for use on work clothes. As the name suggests they were used on workmen’s jackets, tunics and overalls. They have domed japanned tinplate backs and loop shanks. The fronts were usually brass (later, chrome) with slogans and company names on them. There are hundreds of different versions and these are collected, but not avidly!

There are many American books that are about pin-buttons or lapel buttons, rather than buttons as such. The Americans use the word “button” to refer to what we would call “lapel badges”! The “bible” for button-collectors is “The Big Book of Buttons” by Hughes and Lester. It’s available from one or two agents in this country and is the best book by far. I’d also recommend two books by Gwen Squires. They were published in the U.K. The first is “Discovering Old Buttons” published by Shire Publications Ltd. And the other is “Buttons for the Collector”, published by David & Charles (Newton Abbot). Both are now out of print but are much more informative than most of the American publications. Many of the latter consist of a profusion of glossy photographs from an inherited or recently purchased collection of buttons, but with little information or text for the reader. The Sally Luscombe book is the best of the bunch.'

Item Code - BUT11B60OAC

Width: 2 7/8"  Height: 4"  Depth: 1"  Weight: 117 g  


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