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Home > Newsletters > October 2004

October 2004

A Common Question:

I often receive emails asking for help identifying textiles or if I will purchase patterns, fabrics, etc.

I love to help! If you have a textile that you need help identifying or valuing I would be happy to help. Please keep in mind I am not a certified appraiser and any information given would just be my opinion based on my experiences, references, and sources. It may take me a few days to get back to you with an answer, as well. Optimally it's best to see the piece in person, but if you can't connect with me locally, or when I vend at an Antiques Show, I would need as much information about the piece as possible, a close up picture and picture of the entire item. Many dealers will charge for such a service, I do not.

With concern to buying items for resale purposes, I usually don't buy items without close inspection. Also, even though I am not an appraiser, I don't feel it morally proper to purchase an item I have tried to value for you. But, for my own collection, I do purchase pre-1950 Quilt Ephemera (catalogs, patterns, books and booklets, excluding newspaper clippings), and would love to hear from you if you have any you wish to part with. I warn you though, I have a lot already!

Feature Article: "Black Glass Buttons"

Glass buttons are grouped into either (A) Clear and Colored Glass and (B) Black Glass. Black Glass became very popular during Queen Victoria's reign in England. Queen Victoria married her cousin, Duke Albert. They had nine children and a very happy marriage. He died of Typhoid Fever in 1861. Queen Victoria observed an extreme period of mourning, up until she died in 1901. Queen Victoria would use jet, which needed to be mined, for her jewelry and buttons. Black glass was an easy replacement for those who wished to remain 'fashionable' at a more reasonable price.

It is hard to date black glass buttons because they were being produced even through the mid 20th century. Old black luster buttons have metal loop shanks or molded self shanks, the more modern ones will rarely have a meal shank. Old black glass will also have scratches and crazing on the back and sometimes a patent date. Modern ones might be backmarked with a company name.

Other antique backs include brass box shanks, embedded shank plates, and swirlbacks.
There are many variations in black glass: iridescent, various lusters, lacy, openwork, pictorals, inlays, fired on enamels, and more. I carry many of them.

This is an example of a silver luster:

An example of Iridescence:

An example of Openwork:

An example of Imitation Fabric:

An example of a Pictoral:

Black Glass buttons are highly collectible and very affordable. Most button collectors will collect a specific type or the collecting can be very overwhelming! But these buttons are also wonderful to embellish hand bags, quilts, and other craft items.

You can see all my black glass buttons
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