Sunday, March 23, 2014

Estate Sale Buttons & Gone with the Wind Buttons

I find it very disappointing when an estate sale advertises antique/old buttons and at the sale all they offer is a plastic peanut butter jar filled with dirty nylon shirt buttons.
Just because the buttons are dirty does not mean they are old.  

Recently I found three nice button tins at estate sales.
Here are some buttons from the first tin.  Some of these I will keep and some I will use in art work

Black Glass

Bone, Glass
 Fabric (nearly all have pad back shanks)
 Vegetable Ivory
Here are the more interesting buttons to me
 left: Republic Mexicana stud button (Mexican silver)
right: brass, high relief
and my favorite is this fabric Gone with the Wind button
 Most Gone with the Wind buttons have not survived over the years due to improper storage/care and use.
I am delighted this sweet small button found a new home with me!

The remaining two button tins will be posted later. 

* * * * * * * * 

Here is my article on Gone with the Wind buttons minus a few photos due to copyright restrictions.
(This article may not be used without my expressed permission, Thank you.)

Gone with the Wind Buttons
by Tami Hacker
If you search for Gone with the Wind buttons, you may find yourself searching endlessly.  The term Gone with the Wind does not appear in our National Button Society (NBS) Classification Blue Book. 

According to Return Engagement of Black Glass Buttons this endearing term was bestowed by button collector Margaret Johnson to a specific type of woven fabric buttons found on women’s 1850-1860s garments.  In her July 1946 Just Buttons magazine article, she refers to these buttons as “cloth buttons with raised designs covered with the same or contrasting material.”   She also mentions she has original store cards of these buttons with hand-written notes of “45c per dozen”, and “1 doz, Inv. of 1868” – thus helping us to date them.

These buttons are made up of two or more separate molds consisting of several pieces of cardboard  which are covered by woven fabric.  Most are ½” in diameter, and can be as high as they are round.  Molded Top buttons maybe decorated with cording or contrasting weave.  Others known as Fancy Tops include a center raised mold with glass centers; primarily black or white glass.  They were sold in sets of 20-24 both as fasteners or decoration on single and double-breasted bodices.    Almost always they have a pad back although a few have thread backs.
They are classified as Division 1 (pre-1918) buttons. 

Original garments, early fashion magazines such as Godey’s, and antique photos help to date these buttons between the Civil War and the 1860s. 

Margaret Mitchell’s 1936 book Gone with the Wind was brought to life in the 1939 movie by the same title.  The Civil War (1861-1865) came to life on the big screen popularizing such things as the fashion of that era. 

It is thought Gone with the Wind (GWTW) buttons earned their name due to the era in which they were created, this is partly true.  It is also thought Margaret Johnson apt the phrase Gone with the Wind    because of the materials used in creating them.  Some of the fabrics used were Damask, Faille, Satin, Silk, Taffeta, Velvet and Wool.  For years these buttons laid unnoticed by button collectors, and like most uncared-for fabrics, moths devoured them until their existence disappeared like the wind…Gone with the Wind.

These button are officially classified in the NBS Blue Book (2009-2010 and 2011-2012) as: 
 Section 5 – Fabrics/Textiles

5-3.2 Two or more-piece molded tops.  Two or more separately covered molds combined to form a composite woven fabric button.  The fabrics may be the same or contrasting.
May include additional other material embellishment (OME).

5-3.2.1 Fancy Tops.  Center raised mold is shaped (non-circular).  Glass center on single mold fabric base does not qualify, and belongs in other material embellishment (OME) class.

These lovely and often overlooked buttons range from $3.00-$15.00+.  Grab them while you can as there is a piqued interest by current button collectors.


Aren't these sweet buttons?

Happy button hunting, Tami



  1. What beautiful buttons. I don't know what it is but they just tell a story.

    1. Hi Rosezeeta,

      Buttons indeed tell would be wonderful if we could turn their volume on and hear the stories they saw once upon a time!

      Thanks for stopping by Vintage Connections and sharing a comment, Tami

  2. Oh I hope back years ago when I first started collecting buttons I didnt throw away some of these cloth buttons because I never cared for them I was always wanting fancy buttons. I will sure watch for them now .
    However buttons are not easy to find around here any longer seems like all the o;d farm auctions are not going on any longer and that is where I got most of my buttons
    I always enjoy your post

  3. I've never heard of Gone With the Wind buttons, but oh wow, they are amazing!! It was wonderful to see you this weekend!! Thanks for being such a good friend and listening to my sad stories.

  4. Hi Tami, I'm hopping over from Karla's blog. I loved seeing your buttons as I have a passion for them too. They are the first thing I look for when I go shopping. It's neat to see some identification of them as I have never researched them before. Gone With the Wind are some I will have to keep an eye out for. Nice to meet you. I'm envious of your crafting group. :-)