Irma delights in buttons, the pewter buttons she is given on leaving Opi and the many different and wonderful kinds she sees in Madame Hélène’s dress shop. Which got me thinking in a button way and discovering that . . .
- The first button-type objects were found in the Indus Valley, made about 3000 years BCE as ornaments and seals.
- The first functional, fastening buttons were made in Germany in 1200’s, created to serve the new fashion of tight-fitting clothes.
- Buttons as fasteners swept over Europe in the next century, doubtless hurrying along the Renaissance.
In this country, if you have a yen to see buttons, actually 10,0000 different kinds, go to the Mattatuck Museum in Waterbury, CT, home to the Waterbury Button Museum. You’ll find diminutive works of art in all imaginable materials: cinnabar from Asia, floral bouquets of human hair under glass, miniature terrariums, even buttons from George Washington’s sainted coat.
Then for true button mania, drive down to the Button Museum in Bishopville, SC, for a button-covered piano, car, coffin, hearse, suit and more, all fashioned by Dalton Stevens, aka the Button King, a man who loves gluing buttons on things.
A final thought. If you want to be happy, just keep repeating the word “button.” I don’t know why, but you can’t be sad saying, “button” over and over. People may look at you strangely but you won’t care.