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Published by jack elliot

In the early 14th century,

buttons were at the cutting edge of technology.



Their arrival led to a clothing revolution

– no more having to pull all your clothes

over your head or be sewn into them.



There used to be a shop that sold only buttons near Covent Garden in London.

I can't remember exactly where it was,

but I expect it closed long ago

and the site became a chain coffee outlet

or vaping shop.


Good retailing areas will never survive in the UK

as long as developers

are allowed to charge extortionate rents,

turf out local businesses

and replace them with branches

of the usual global and national chains.


    Buttons are as old as clothing. In the Prehistory old culters over the complete world buttons have been made of stone, pottery, gade-stone, jet, bone, wood, shell, flint, horn of deer or stag, ivory, bronze, argent and gold. They were used for purely practical reasons or as decoration, because even an ordinary button from bone was a decoration of the garment.

    Buttons of Kings were more luxuously, such as buttons of gold and glass, wich were found in the tombs of Mykene and sea cultures around the Meditarranean. There are buttons from the 16th century v.C. Women saw rapidly the importance of this practical object and the possibility to make a little gem. Etrucan, Roman or Gaul, female vanity


    From the fifth century round fences are known, flat or decorated with geometrical figures. Jewels in gold, argent, mother of pearl and mount crystal. Sometimes decorated with colourful stones. This great pomp and circumstance declined when the first millenium approached: the year 1000 was promised to be the fatal date and the end of humanity. But if nothing spectacular happens, the court and lords promptly forget all doom and penitentials of the uncertain times which has been predicted.
    The standard of living restored and the consequence was rich decorated clothing. Gold - and silversmiths manufactured buckles and hooks, pins and brooches in gold and argent. The locksmiths offered fastenings, large or small but in iron, tin and brass.

    During the crusades (11th-13th century), the art of making buttons was imported here from the Near East.
    When it became usage to wear clothes narrower around the body, the role of buttons became more important.




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