Button jewellery art
“You can become an archangel, a fool or a criminal, and no one will notice it. But if you have no buttons – everyone pay attention to it, “- wrote Erich Maria Remarque. Indeed, for several millennia button faithfully serves man.
Prehistoric people fastened their clothes out of animal skins with the help of pieces of wood or bone. Later came to light pins, buckles, buttons and hooks. Already in IV-III millennium BC. e. our ancestors who lived in what is now the Moscow region, wore amber buttons in the form of a disc with two holes. The golden buttons were among the treasures unearthed in Asia by Heinrich Schliemann, as is well known, his finds are much older than Homeric Troy. Reform of the suit in the XIII century, the invention of a cut, allowed to wear tight clothes, like a second skin – has led to a massive use of buttons.
In Paris, there are associations of artisans – shops, united button-makers working with certain materials: metal, bone, glass. Production of buttons soon became a significant part of the European economy. It is not surprising when you consider that men’s suit at the time from the chin to the waist and from the elbow to the wrist fastened with lots of buttons, often more than a hundred of them. They were made of gold, silver, and decorated with insets aground.
The origin of the Russian word “pugovitsa” (button), according to some researchers, associated with the mystical capabilities that this thing gives to a person. Sewn to the collar of his shirt and decorated with special ornaments, it had to “pugati” (scare off) evil spirits and protect the owner from evil spirits. Sometimes the same purpose within the hollow round buttons placed a pebble or a pellet, and then when walking it made a muffled sound. Buttons sewn on the cloth and hidden in the folds of clothing, used as a talisman until the beginning of XX century. To find the button is still considered a good omen, and if you ran across a black cat on the road, it is enough to touch the buttons – and you can safely go ahead.
Buttons made of precious stones adorned the court men’s suits, complemented by diamonds, gold threads of precious stones. Luxury expensive buttons indicated wealth and high position of the owner. Until the middle of the XIX century they were mostly suit attribute, women continued to use lacing hooks and buttons were used only occasionally, mostly as a decoration. About how widely the buttons were used and how important they were, says the fact that their production was regulated by the state. When, in the XVII century became fashionable buttons, upholstered and decorated with lace and embroidery, French law prescribed to use for them exceptionally silk, in order to support the production of silk in Paris and Lyon. In England the end of XVII – beginning of XVIII century buttons, on the contrary, the use of silk was officially banned: British buttons ought to contribute to the development of metallurgy.
XVIII centuries are called the golden age of buttons, while their diversity was truly boundless. For the production used gold, silver, tin, steel, brass, glass, horn, ivory, mother of pearl, tortoiseshell, enamel, wood. Virtually every animal and plant, known in the XVIII century, was shown on the buttons: painted, embroidered, carved, cast, and so on. Favorite motifs were romantic landscapes, architecture, mythological characters, cupids and shepherdesses. After the French Revolution the political subjects were “buttoned” too, and one of the most valuable in the world are still considered buttons, issued in honor of the inauguration of George Washington in 1789 and 1793. Most sets of buttons were made from 5 to 35 pieces on a particular topic: travel, scenes of colonial life, and so on. Typically, these kits were made to order and sold in a box covered with silk.
On the “button-field” worked the best artists and inventors of the time. For example, a set of buttons for Louis XIV, was painted by the famous painter Antoine Watteau. In the manufacture of the famous potter Josiah Wedgwood in Staffordshire, among other things produced buttons. English engineer Matthew Boulton, James Watt known for the development of the first steam engines, considered the inventors of the so-called diamond cut steel, which resulted in a small grain of steel resembles a diamond. Sometimes in one button, there were more than 150 such “diamonds”. You can imagine how difficult was the work-term if each grain was separately riveted to the button top. For a short time at the beginning of the XIX century very popular were the buttons of diamond cut (in Russia they were worth more than gold).
Britain continued to lead in the production of metal buttons. Used a variety of techniques: forging, casting, engraving and many others. Manufacturers showed great imagination and ingenuity, the patents were registered one by one, and many of the then innovations laid the foundations for the Industrial Revolution. King George III himself engaged in the development of new models of buttons, for which he was ridiculed in the pamphlet “Anecdotes about button.” For general population buttons more accessible at the end of XVIII – early XIX century. When there were large factories.
Trade secrets were closely guarded, the English master of buttons was even forbidden to emigrate, that technology did not get abroad. Nevertheless, industrial espionage has allowed America rapidly develop its own button-industry, especially from 1812, when European imports virtually ceased.
In the XIX century, in the production of buttons are used more and more new technologies. Pulling buttons are now produced by machines; porcelain buttons painted stenciled; so necessary to all the product is pressed softened by heating horns and hoofs of animals. In the middle of the century after the discovery by Nelson Goodyear the vulcanization process of rubber in America started production of buttons made of hard rubber.
In 1861 died Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria. Mourning lasted 25 years, and black dominated the fashion of the time. Her Majesty wore jewelry and buttons of precious jet, while for the general population were in a huge demand black glass buttons, imitating expensive royalties. Tons of black glass buttons were exported from Bohemia and sold in many countries around the world up to the 60th of XX century. In the “Belle Epoque” of the late XIX – early XX century, was the peak production of decorative buttons. Revived buttons of porcelain enamel, so beloved by fashionistas of the XVIII century. Silver Art Nouveau buttons were produced in England and other European countries.
With the advent of home sewing machines and fashionable styles patterns in women’s magazines a woman could sew clothes herself, which also responded to the haberdashery industry. Factories in Europe and America, but equipped with the latest art technology, produced a huge variety of buttons for low prices. While the buttons on a dress still perform only a decorative role.
The real revolution in the history of industrial production was the use of plastic buttons, which in less than a century replaced almost all other materials. Celluloid was first invented in the 60s of the XIX century; it was easily machined and painted in any color. They were not just plain linen buttons, but exquisitely beautiful and designed for ballroom dresses. In the 20-ies of the XX century the most common were plastic Bakelite buttons, named “material of thousands of possibilities.” At the same time in Europe in fashion became curly buttons – in the form of animals, plants, vegetables and so on. The fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli inspired by surrealism, created for their collections of clothes unusual buttons, such as small transparent boxes filled with grains of coffee and rice, or rows decreases in the amount of butterflies.
After World War II raw materials for the production of buttons lacked, so any improvised material was in use. In Germany produced buttons from windshields of decommissioned fighters, and outside Moscow Artel made buttons from softened gramophone records.
In the 50-60-ies of the XX century around the world have become popular buttons of colored glass manufactured in West Germany and Czechoslovakia. Clean bright colors, gold and silver finish, thoughtful design make them a wonderful addition and an ornament of women’s clothing. Despite the fact that the production labor process is intensive, with a predominance of manual operations, glass buttons competed successfully with plastic until the early 80-ies. And only with the ubiquitous household washing machines, spoiling and breaking the fragile glass, they were abandoned ..
In recent decades, the button is gradually leaving the stage. With the pace of modern life once people spend precious minutes on buttoning clothes: increasingly used jersey, zip fasteners and various Velcro. Button sewing industry tries to keep up with the times: embedded computer technology for printing using a laser beam, but it is clear that in the near future, humanity will invent a more efficient way to connect pieces of clothing. A button will remain only as a beautiful decoration or exhibit of collections.
In the small French town of Gien in 1952 opened Hunt Museum, where are exhibited more than 4 thousand buttons from hunting jackets from different countries.
Button tintypes, fashionable since 1860 until the end of the century – an example of a low-cost, easy-to-use portrait. These buttons were worn by soldiers as memorable signs. The same technology was used during political campaigns.
At the end of the XIX century, American girls collected buttons strung on twine. It was thought that, once she had collected 1000 buttons, a “Prince Charming” would have come to the girl and marry her.
‘Eaglet’ – the so-called brass button with a picture of Francois Joseph Charles Bonaparte, Duke of Reichstadt (1811- 1832), the son of Napoleon I. Almost all of his short life he spent in Austria, dreaming of heroic deeds and glory. After the Battle of Waterloo, Napoleon abdicated in favor of his son, and proclaimed him emperor of France under the name of Napoleon II. But as the Duke of Reichstadt at the time was not at home, then the renunciation of the laws had no legal force. In 1900, French poet and dramatist Edmond Rostand wrote a historical – romantic drama “Eaglet” of the last years of Napoleon II. The play has won enormous popularity.