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Buttonholes for Buttons First Appeared In 13th Century Germany


National Button Day is observed annually on November 16. Founded in 1938, the National Button Society recognized button collecting as an organized hobby. Both novice and advanced button collectors celebrate the enjoyment collecting on this day.

Crafters across the country utilize buttons in creative ways and are some of the best at finding new uses for old items. There are thousands of button collectors in the United States. There is a very large button “club” on the internet called “Buttonbytes“.  It is available at no cost to anyone interested in the hobby.

  • The oldest button ever found was in the Indus Valley Civilization which is now Pakistan. The button is made of a curved shell and dates back 5,000 years!
  • In 2600-1500BCE buttons were used as ornamentation instead of as fasteners.
  • Buttons with buttonholes used to keep clothing closed first appeared in 13th century Germany.
  • By the 13th and 14th century, buttons were widespread throughout Europe.
  • Ornamental buttons dating back between 2600-1500BCE have been found in the Indus Valley Civilization, Rome and China
  • During the World Wars, the British and U.S. military used button lockets which were buttons constructed like lockets to store compasses.
  • the word button is from the French word bouton, meaning bud or knob – buttons, as ornaments, date back several thousand years.
  • Until the 19th century, most buttons were used for men’s clothing. Hooks and lacing were the norm for women’s clothes. After the mid 1800s, women became the primary consumers of buttons.
  • Left vs. Right: Men’s garments wrap from left to right with the button on the right side. Most men were right-handed and dressed themselves whereas servants dressed women of wealth. Placing them on the left side made it possible to face the buttons while completing the task. Also, most women were right-handed and held their babies in their left arm to nurse. Easy access was essential.
  • BUTTON-DOWN COLLARS: They actually did serve a purpose and horseback riding was the catalyst! Imagine going out for a hack with your shirt collar constantly flapping in your face. Rather annoying, huh? Shirt collars were originally attached separately so buttoning them down was the perfect solution, especially for polo players. In 1896, Brooks Brothers ran with the idea calling the shirt, as we know it today, “The Original Polo Shirt.”


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