Button, button, who’s got the button?

I sure do! If you are a vintage lover like me, you probably have a hoard of vintage buttons, too. In jars, in tins, in vintage suitcases – I have them stashed everywhere just waiting for the next fun project to come along. Over the years they have become jewelry, Christmas trees, the perfect embellishment for handmade gift tags – and yes, they have even made it onto a shirt or two. I love collections of things. I don’t look at a jar of buttons as just “buttons” – I look at it as the fruit of years of labor of some thrifty person who cut them off coats and shirts and purses and pants.

When I was very young, I can remember going to the “button store” with my mom. Yes, an entire store dedicated just to buttons! She would be looking for just the right one to finish off one of her beautiful handmade projects. Sales staff would bring out big trays loaded with buttons of every size, shape, color and material. It was a button lovers’ paradise!

Maybe you didn’t visit a button store as a child, but did you ever play “Button, button, who has the button?” Wikipedia provides a perfect description of the game.

“Button, button who’s got the button is a game of ingenuity where players form a circle with their hands out, palms together. One child, called the leader or ‘it’, takes an object such as a button and goes around the circle, with their hands in everybody else’s hands one by one. In one person’s hands they drop the button, though they continue to put their hands in the others’ so that no one knows where the button is except for the giver and receiver. The leader, or all the children in the circle, says “Button, button, who’s got the button?” and then each child in the circle guesses. The child guessing replies with their choice, e.g. “Billy has the button!””

Sounds exciting right? I can vaguely remember playing as a child. Hey, we had to do something to entertain ourselves before the internet and video games!

The old tradition of collecting buttons started long ago when people lived in a much thriftier and less disposable society. According to the website The Quilter Community, button collecting in America came into it’s own in the late 1930’s. The Depression Era encouraged this hobby because it was affordable. Gertrude Patterson talked about her button collecting on her radio show. She told listeners that when they collected 992 buttons, they would find their true love.

How many of you had a grandmother with an old cookie tin filled to the brim with buttons? Those that did must have had a grandmother with more than 992 because they found their true love and you are here to tell the story!

What is not to love about buttons? They are just tiny works of art after all – just like some of the beautiful examples above.

Don’t have a button jar of your own? Haven’t found your true love? Better start collecting!