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Last Updated 01/20/02


A Bit About Buttons

Buttons have been used on garments for centuries. In the early 19th century the most-used materials for common buttons were metals, horn, bone, and fabric until the introduction of pressed china clay buttons from England.

Richard Prosser patented a mechanized process that was used by the famous Mintons Pottery to make inexpensive, attractive porcelain buttons from 1840 to 1846. During the first year they used six button presses; their production records for 1846 show over 50,000 great gross of porcelain buttons. 

In 1844, in France, a patent for a wet clay process for pressing buttons was issued to Jean-Felix Bapterosse.  It was a great improvement for producing very large numbers of buttons.  Later patent records show his continuing improvements in machinery through 1883.  His efforts resulted in French domination of porcelain button exports.

Meanwhile, from 1848 until 1856 a pottery in New York was making porcelain buttons. They were decorated by the transfer method with over 100 different colorful patterns.  Today we call these buttons ‘calicoes’.   The Steamboat Arabia museum in Kansas City, Missouri shows a collection of thousands of calico buttons of French origin. The steamboat sank in 1856, en route to frontier outposts.

The charming calico button was very popular among the other styles of china buttons in common use for mid-nineteenth century garments. They appear on undergarments and work dresses, and larger sizes were often seen on children's clothing.


Handcrafted Calico Buttons
. Fine Porcelain - Machine Washable

My porcelain buttons are reproductions of antique originals in my collection. The patterns and colors currently offered are some of the most popular of the 326 documented by the National Button Society. They are individually marked with my initial on the back. These buttons are hand-made from high quality porcelain, with the shape, colors, and patterns of antique china buttons. They are machine washable.

Prices as of January 2002:   $2/each (any size or color), $1.25 each for orders of 75 or more. All the calicoes come in three sizes: 7/16", 1/2" and 9/16". We now have 6 colors, plus black, in 23 total patterns. Contact us for our free color brochure - please provide mailing address.


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