Thursday, November 15, 2007

Connected By A Button




Two is a pair and three is the beginning of a collection. I collect buttons.

When I was a young girl I would spend Sundays with my fraternal Grandmother. In the morning we would walk to church. After the service we'd return home for a wee spot of tea as she put it. Agnace (the early Scottish spelling of Agnes) would bring out her button box and I would delight in its contents and the stories she told as we would sip sweet tea from her best cups and saucers.

I would line them up in rows by color or size, beauty or plainness on the freshly starched linen tablecloth. She would show me which ones were off my father and uncle's rompers, my great-granny's house dress or something new she'd purchased at a church bazaar. Every one had a tale to tell and I would sit there mesmerized as she spoke.

Years later when my Gramma passed away the button box became mine and so the collection began.

I have buttons from the Victorian and Edwardian eras, jet glass porcelain, mother of pearl and abalone. Some that are Bakelite and once adorned the big coats of the 1940s. The colors, sizes, shapes and beauty are endless.

One of my favorites comes from the uniform of a young man in the Continental Army of George Washington. It came North with the owner and his family searching for free land and a fresh start. (My maternal side.)

As tiny as they are my buttons have connected me to the past and are a passion I hope someday to pass along.

20 comments:

rochambeau said...

Dear Miss Maddie,
How lucky you are to have spent time like this with your Grandma Agnace. Seems like she gave you a big gift. You are much like her. It is so beautiful that she took the time to love you the way that she did!

My Norwegian Grandma was Agnes, she died when I was small.

My Mom had a square red box with her broken beads and buttons. I will never forget it, as to me it was a true treasure chest! The buttons I collect are Mother of Pearl. I have enough to become The Pearly Lady! ;-)

Suzanne said...

I love the title of your post Susan. Buttons seem such a simple utilitarian tool, yet each can have such a history. I've recently inherited some family buttons of my own...each with a little bit of family history. Thank you for another lovely post.

Lana said...

Susan, Recently while sorting through the remains of my Mom's possessions, my sister and I came upon an old pale green powder box. On the top was written "Grandma Voiles (Lottie)". It was our Grandma's button box. It only had enough buttons in it to cover the bottom, and most were utilitarian, but still just as precious to me. I am the sentimental one in my family and my both my sisters have been kind (& relieved!) enough to let me have many of the small, insignifigant items that otherwise would have been given or thrown away. I never knew my Grandmothers, both passed away before I was born, but through their small collections and journals, I feel as though I know them. Thank you for sharing your stories with us.

Lea said...

What wonderful memories... I too, with my mother, would sit on the floor and dump out her button collection... spending hours sorting, and wondering of who wore this and who wore those set of crystal and pink stones... your collection is wonderful and I too find the uniform button incredible. What treasures these are and what stories they link us to...

Pinkie Denise said...

Oh Miss Maddie,
I love reading your button post, I too remember digging through my Grandma Lena's button box. All the bright colors and textures. One day I
decided to have a button party and tea with a couple of friends, they came over one afternoon we had tea and sorted button from a large collection I had gotten, from a 80 year old button collector. They too remember memories of playing and stringing buttons on rainy days with their momma buttons. Buttons are truly connectors of just more than fabric and clothing. They connect the fabric and friends of life...... Enjoy this day and Thanks you for the sparkles you sewed into mine! Pinkie Denise

Christine LeFever said...

Ooohh was what escaped the moment I spotted your picture of buttons.

My grandmother was also named Agnes.Her memory is my mentor for it is she who inspired me toward what I love in the feminine arts.

Button, button, who's got the button? (That was a game we kids played.)

Christine

Sherry said...

I think collecting buttons is a wonderful link to the past. That your grandmother shared them with you when she was alive and left them to you is such a tribute to memories that are easily held in the palm of your hand.

FrenchGardenHouse said...

Miss Maddie,

What a lovely post, full of buttons (one of my favorites!)

I cherish the memories I have of playing with my Grandmama's Buttons.:)
Lidy

Donna O'Brien said...

What a wonderful post of your first introduction and subsequent love of buttons. And your Scottish Gramma sounds so special.Now I will be on the look out for fabulous buttons for you. You never know what I may stumble on. If I see something I will "snap" it up. Oops,maybe it's politically incorrect to use the words button and snap in the same post?

CARole said...

Hello Miss Maddie. I got a sinking feeling in my stomach when I read your post and saw your buttons. When I was cleaning out my mother's house, I remember seeing her button collection. It never occurred to me to keep them! Usually those kinds of things speak to me.What was wrong with me not to keep them!? Oh, how I regret not doing so. I feel like I could cry. What a wonderful memory you have of you and your grandmother. Very special to have them.

Miss Sandy said...

This bring back sweet button memories for me! I played in button boxes at home, at both my great aunts and at my gandmothers, I too learned the stories of who each button belonged to and I too inherited all those button boxes.
Miss Sandy

Dixie Redmond said...

What a great collection - love the Continental button and the story! If I'm ever at auction I always bid on the button boxes. Or the sewing kits. Smiles, Dixie

Mrs.E said...

I'm a new visitor and am enjoying your posts very much....such wonderful topics :)

Laurie said...

What wonderful memories you have of your Grandmother. I really enjoyed reading about her buttons and her button box. What a treasure you have in the button box.
hugs,
Laurie

Dorian Fletcher said...

My, my, Susan...this post could have been my own, save for the specific buttons. I still have the better part of my own dear grandmother's button collection. I am always taken with the other things that seem to get thrown in with the buttons: a cigar token, tiny buckles, little doll shoe and piece of broken china.

Carolyn said...

Such a wondeful post of remebrance ! And what memories you have to treasure with you always .
My grandma was a scarf lady , so i`ve kept one of hers amongst a few other "treasures " that i simply cannot part with ...

nicol sayre said...

Dear Susan
What lovely memories to have and to be able to listen to their stories.. What frocks they bedecked and outings they witnessed. xoxo N

Donna O'Brien said...

I know you already celebrated a while back but Happy Thanksgivng to you again. I hope your mom's okay and doing well.
XO
D.

CCs Whimsies said...

Don't you love buttons!!!! Other than admiring all the beautiful and different ones, it's the way they feel when you run your fingers through them.... ahhhhhhhhhh

Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy the day with family and friends. Warmly, Christy

Dorian Fletcher said...

Have a lovely Thanksgiving, Susan. (Do you celebrate something of the like in Canada?) I for one am grateful for finding you in this wacky world of Bloglandia!