Buttons galore

Three pairs of buttons, The Netherlands, 1930s (TRC 2018.1497a-f).

Three pairs of buttons, The Netherlands, 1930s (TRC 2018.1497a-f).

As noted in an earlier blog, the last few months at the TRC have been used to sort, photograph and catalogue a collection of 1920’s-1940’s textiles and garments from a family in Wassenaar, which is close to Leiden. The donation also included what appeared to be a small box of buttons, buckles and clasps, which fitted into our work on textiles and fashion.

The buckles and clasps were quickly catalogued and put online, but the buttons presented a totally different challenge. There were hundreds of them! What should we do with them! Keep them all? Make a general collection or something more complicated, namely a reference collection? The latter could then be used by the TRC and others for identifying and describing buttons from all ovet the place and from all periods. Buttons seem so ordinary they are often forgotten or regarded as unimportant. Such a reference collection would take them out of obscurity.

With typical TRC bravado we have decided to make such a reference collection. The button descriptions have been divided into the following: a. Materials used to make the buttons (from bone to plastics); b. General appearance (bell, convex, concave, flat, round, square, etc); c. Parts of a button (and there are an intriguing range of elements for something so small); d. Different types of fastening systems (through, shank, stud, etc); e. Function (buttons, inside buttons, shoe, glove, dress, waistcoat, uniform, etc).

It will be a while before the whole Button Reference System is working in a satisfactory manner, but we feel that this and similar reference collections will make a big difference in creating a more accurate description of what we actually have in the ever growing and quite frankly, quite amazing TRC Collection.

Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, Sunday 13th May 2018



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Opening times: Monday to Thursday: 10.00-16.00 hrs, other days by appointment.

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The TRC is dependent on project support and individual donations. All of our work is being carried out by volunteers. To support the TRC activities, we therefore welcome your financial assistance: donations can be transferred to bank account number NL39 INGB 000 298 2359, in the name of the Textile Research Centre, Leiden. Since the TRC is officially recognised as a non-profit making cultural institution (ANBI), donations are tax deductible for 125% for individuals, and 150% for commercial companies. For more information, click here
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