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Friday, 24 February 2012

Where have all the button tins gone

I remember as a child I loved to play with the contents of my Grandma's button tin, I loved the shapes and textures. My favourites were the mother of pearl buttons that would glisten in the sunlight. The glass ones were invariable chipped or shattered and I often wondered why she kept the broken cracked ones. I still have my Grandma's mother of pearl buttons, but my mother's button tin is full of bland modern plastic types and my daughter isn't remotely interested in my mother's buttons. She is a product of the throw away society we have become today unlike yester-year when all the buttons were routinely cut off old clothes and put in the rusty old family button tin, clothes are neatly folded and placed in one of the many charity bags that are put through our letterboxes seeming every other week!

Now if your Grandma had a very large button tin like mine did there would be other treasures and many odd things to be found in there. You would get the usual things such as pins, needles, thimbles, old sewing machine parts and the lovely colourful Bakelite buckles. Grandma's silver sixpence still with silver foil attached was in there, a momento of Xmas past, but my favourite item in the tin was a silver marcasite ring which after her death was given to me, and which I have treasured ever since.
I have collected vintage sewing items for many years and mother of pearl buttons in particular are my favourite item possibly a throwback to my youth! You find some very strange items in button tins and I often wonder why people would put such items in their button tins. Items such as badges, cuff links, beads, screw drivers, pen nibs, dog tags, keys, wax, bone & metal curtain rings, marbles, meccano, and loose matches all probably put there because it was convenient to do so. The oddest and potentionally dangerous thing I have found in a tin were loose pain-killers!, which believe it or not are quite a common thing to find in an old button tins, the mind boggles!

Start you button collection today - visit my store Henrietta's buttons   I cater for the collector, design student, vintage clothes restorer, and crafts people so come along and browse through my buttons section you never know what you might find.


  1. You're right about finding odd things, I found a collection of individual teeth in a tin of buttons once, best find though was a gold half-sovereign!

  2. What a lovely article! Yes, I loved looking throught my Grandma's button tin, too! And my favourite button that I still have to this day, is a white mother-of-pearl button, carved and with pierced areas - beautiful!

    Miss Rayne - I too have found a tooth in a button tin - ugh! Why would anyone keep that?

    The most unusual thing I found was a rather macabre cast German plaque celebrating the sinking of a British ship during WWII!