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Buttons have been with humanity since the Bronze Age. At first it was purely ornamental. But then the buttonhole was made. Buttons became a practical way to fasten clothes. This was especially true for delicate fabrics and tight fitting clothes.Buttons and buttonholes arrived in Europe in the 1200s, one of the many ideas and inventions "freed" from Muslim control. It became a big hit. Kings and lords sported clothes with more buttons than sense in the 14th century. Buttons became a large industry and artisans made buttons from gold, silver, diamonds and ceramics. Buttons had carvings or painted ornamentations. Metal buttons found its way in uniforms. Buttons were made primarily by France during this period, but by the 18th century, Germany, England, and the United States became button-making powers.During the 19th century, buttons were mass-produced. While mass- production implies buttons only had one or two designs, this didn't happen. It was the early days of capitalism and there were a lot of button manufacturers. They each made different kinds of buttons. There were loads of varieties available. Buttons made from thread struggled against buttons made from bone or metal or ceramics. Buttons were sold in boxes. They were then sewn on clothes. Each household kept a button box to hold newly bought buttons as well as buttons from old discarded garments. They were used to make new clothes or make repairs.Japan introduced the Western world to buttons made from pearls in this same period. This became such a popular fad in London that suits covered in pearl buttons with a flamboyant feather hat were styled Pearly Kings and Queens. Those who were pearlies are named the alternative royal family and they go around raising money for charity.But the most popular button of that time was the black glass button popularized by a mourning Queen Victoria. The fin de siÃ¨cle saw the rise in fashion of picture buttons and novelty buttons. Unlike older buttons, the pictures were printed instead of painted. Buttons came out in all sorts of shapes and many started collecting them.When plastic buttons were introduced in the 20th century, the popularity of buttons flagged. Buttons became seen as common uniform and functional things. Most plastic buttons we see today seem molded in only one style, which is used in every garment.Buttons still retain their fashionability despite the rise of other ways to fasten clothes, like zippers and Velcro. Buttons still have advantages compared to newer fastening methods. It's certain that the humble button will be used for the foreseeable future.
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"Buttons - History of Modern Buttons"Please download to view full document