The Button Box

Stories and Poems by our members.

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The Button Box

Post by paddyscar » Wed Apr 22, 2009 9:31 pm

aaahh! buttons - where do I begin .... I strongly deny that I am a button collector. I will admit, however, to being an accumulator.

Although I now have three button receptacles, I have only one ‘button box’.

The ‘button box’ was a standard fixture in most homes as I was growing up. Any discarded clothing never went to it’s final resting place without having all buttons, snaps, buckles or hooks ‘n eyes removed and consigned to the ‘button box’. You never knew when you might need a good button!

Whether in response to ‘the war’ when incidentals such as buttons weren’t being produced or simply economic circumstances, it was a practice that endured through several generations. Even if you didn’t sew, chances are, you had a ‘button box’.

My Mother's button box came home with me as part of my inheritance.

It is a square biscuit tin decorated with Oriental people in regional dress given to my Mother in the late 1950's by a friend in the Scottish New Year’s tradition of ‘Hogmanay’.

The button box was a source of great pleasure to all my Mother's small friends and grandchildren for hours on end. Contrary to today's safety standards, all the kids played with the button box, and not one emergency ever occurred. The vast assortment fascinated children and buttons were their first introduction to colours, shapes and sizes, and an early hands-on tool for counting and arithmetic.

Why was it so special? Perhaps it was the sense of freedom felt when just tipping over the button box and allowing its contents to splay out on the floor or table. Maybe it was the noise of the buttons rushing out along the tin sides, or the clacking sound of the buttons being returned to the box at the end of play time, but that button box held more power than any Jack-in-the-box ever would.

Several years ago, my daughter presented me with a cross-stitch that spoke of the family history held in a button box. Embellished with button box finds, I see my Mother in her favourite cardigan, my Dad’s work shirts and trousers, my first party dress and the sweaters and clothes I made for my own children.

I won’t mind at all, if at some point in the future my daughter returns those buttons to the box and replaces them with her own memories …. ... ?pos=-1828

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Post by Anne H » Wed Apr 22, 2009 9:42 pm

Ah, Frances. Wonderful! =D>

That button box brought back a lot of memories. I don't know what happened to our button box but we used to have great fun playing with all those colourful buttons.

Beautiful cross-stitch with great memories...and I recognize some of those buttons too. :D

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Post by SarahND » Wed Apr 22, 2009 10:42 pm

Hi Frances,
What a great cross-stitch poem! I have my great aunt's button box, with many old bone buttons, lace buttons and some of the old-style shoe buttons (my great aunt was born in 1879). Fascinating things and you never know when you might need just such a button...


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Post by WilmaM » Wed Apr 22, 2009 10:56 pm

I think that will bring back memories for a lot of people.

We played with mum's, her aunt's and my Gran's when she came to live with us.

Our favourite was a Squirrel brand Wine Gums tin box, filled with Gran's collection of Rick-rack, bias-binding and ribbon trimmings. She used of them to trim the aprons and pinnies she made on her treadle singer sewing machine.

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Post by nelmit » Wed Apr 22, 2009 11:23 pm

Ahh....memories of the sound and feeling as I ran my wee fingers through the buttons in my Nanny's Gray Dunn biscuit tin. :)

The pearlies were always the best.

Thanks Frances

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Post by wini » Thu Apr 23, 2009 11:13 am

Button boxes do get handed down through generations. My daughter has her grandmothers, it never seems to have any buttons she wants to use but keeps it purely for sentimental reasons.

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Post by joette » Thu Apr 23, 2009 2:54 pm

Oh the memories & such an accurate account Frances although I do recall having to visit the Dr to have a button removed from my nose on one occasion.
The poem & your account brought tears to my eyes.
My Granny's tin was small & rectangular,my Mother's big & round & red tartan in colour-she still uses it.

My Mother has her Granny's old treadle sewing machine upon which was made many items including a Depression made tent to take the weans "doon the water"There are drawers in the side which have items of hers too-priceless in terms of sentimental value.She was a dressmaker of much skill a skill my Mother & sisters have inherited but alas I struggle to sew a hem but I do love to cross-stitch & knit.
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Post by mallog » Sat Apr 25, 2009 1:02 am

What a lovely post Frances ! I remember playing with a button box just as you describe and of course I have my own now. I will never use some (most) of them but I still like to look at them from time to time
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Post by StewL » Sun Apr 26, 2009 2:18 am

I remember my mothers button box well, played with it on many occasions, my mother used it to instil counting and matching in us, how many blue buttons etc.
My sister has inherited it. :D

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Post by joette » Sun Apr 26, 2009 3:12 pm

Without an ounce of education in psychology or child development it's amazing what our Mothers & generations back taught their children with just plain old commonsense & everyday objects.
It makes me laugh when I look at all the fancy aids that we use now to teach youngsters.With my polish tin containing my spelling words in them & the Button Tin for counting I learned the basics pre-school from my Mother & elder sister.PE was walking everywhere & floor exercises with a fitness concious Mum & a hula-hoop,roller skates & cycle all second or third hand!
CARR/LEITCH-Scotland,Ireland(County Donegal)

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