Dating buttons warren k tice


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The backs of flat buttons frequently have either a maker's mark company name or a quality mark. Both types of marks on the reverse of buttons are called "backmarks. While quality marks seldom tell us much, makers' marks can sometimes help to date a site. Tice for some good information on button manufacturers and their date ranges. Often the big problem is being able to identify the buttons we dig. I used to use water and a toothbrush to reveal the details on dug buttons, but through the years I've realized that this method isn't all that great.

Many times I ended up removing all the patina, and with it the backmark as well. Gradually I started experimenting with a different method. I get a toothpick or wooden skewer- I prefer thin, wooden shish kebab skewers by far- then hold the edge of the skewer flat against the back of the button, as if I were holding a charcoal stick and making a rubbing of the button. Do this cleaning method without water: The advantage of this toothpick method is that it keeps the patina in the grooves where the backmark is stamped.

On the other hand, as mentioned, a toothbrush removes all of this patina, and you're left with no contrast to aid in reading the backmark. If the backmark or quality mark on a flat button is raised rather than incuse stamped in , you'll have to scrape the corrosion off very carefully, just until you start to see the tops of the letters. Don't go any deeper into the corrosion than that- but when you have a rough idea of what it says, you can then work on individual letters as needed.

Afterward, you can lightly rub the high points with your index finger, and the natural oil on your hands will bring out the design even more. The oil on our hands adds contrast to the highest points on metal objects with patina, and I have even used this light brushing of a finger over the high points on large cents and Shield and "V" nickels in order to read the dates after cleaning. Before cleaning a button with the "toothpick" method outlined above, be sure to check carefully to see if there is any gold or silver gilding to preserve. If you find a button that has lots of gold gilding, I'd recommend either Aluminum Jelly or Naval Jelly.

Do not use a toothbrush on these, either. This holds true for gold gilding on both one-piece and two-piece buttons with a good bit of gilding remaining. The method for using Aluminum Jelly is outlined later on in this article.

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The peroxide method works well if you have recovered a flat button without a backmark. These are usually the large, older flat buttons, Colonial types without backmarks, and what our British friends refer to as "dandy" buttons very large, flat Colonial period buttons. The peroxide method is simply this: Then drop the button in. All of the crust and dirt will be removed. Do not breathe the vapors, and be sure to do this in a well-ventilated place.

Also, be careful not to put anything metal in your microwave. Tombac buttons are named for the metal they're made from, an alloy of copper and zinc.

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They come out of the ground with a silvery or gunmetal colored shine. Tombac is brittle, and these buttons are often broken rather than bent by the plough. They can also be identified by the fact that their backs appear turned, as though made on a lathe; and their shanks are made of brass and applied as a separate piece to their backs.

Due to their coloration, some detectorists confuse them with pewter or even silver buttons. In terms of cleaning, I know of no way to remove fertilizer corrosion from tombacs. At best, removing this green corrosion takes some work and elbow grease, and the results are hardly stellar.

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On the other hand, Aluminum Jelly seems to cure tombac buttons of light tarnish. Aluminum Jelly can be obtained at most hardware stores. Pewter buttons must be cleaned very carefully. I usually place them in a Ziploc bag immediately after recovering them, to keep them moist, then take them home and soak them in water and gently toothpick them, using extra care around the edges which will typically start to flake over time. I always toothpick from the center of the button toward the edges the edges will be weaker and more prone to break , using less pressure as I approach the edge.

After cleaning and letting them thoroughly air-dry, it is important to coat them with something to stabilize them. I have heard of others using a thin coat of urethane painted on and then thinned out across the front of the button to preserve them and prevent them from continuing to flake away at the edges, but I still prefer Elmer's glue since it is completely reversible and can be removed by soaking the button in soapy water.


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Again, if you find a button one-or two-piece that has lots of gold gilding that you'd like to preserve, I'd recommend either Aluminum Jelly or Naval Jelly. I do not toothbrush these, since a toothbrush will often remove some of the gilding. Instead, apply Aluminum or Naval Jelly to the button. Let it sit for about a minute and gently swirl it around with a wet wooden skewer that has been soaking in water to make it less abrasive.

The crust will melt away from the surface of the gold. Use multiple applications until the button's remaining gilding is fully revealed. Once the Aluminum Jelly has done its work and the cleaning is done, I rinse the button thoroughly with a little soap to neutralize the acid in the jelly. I also do this if I am going to stop work on the button for an extended amount of time.

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I hold a cake of soap in my other hand, between the faucet and the button, so that the soapy water falls over the button. The name field is required. Please enter your name. The E-mail message field is required. Please enter the message. Please verify that you are not a robot. Would you also like to submit a review for this item? You already recently rated this item. Your rating has been recorded. Write a review Rate this item: Preview this item Preview this item.

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Dating buttons ; a chronology of button types, makers, retailers and their backmarks: Warren K Tice Publisher: Subjects Button industry -- United States -- History. Buttons -- United States -- History. Button industry -- Europe -- History. View all subjects More like this User lists Similar Items. Allow this favorite library to be seen by others Keep this favorite library private. Find a copy in the library Finding libraries that hold this item Warren K Tice Find more information about: Reviews User-contributed reviews Add a review and share your thoughts with other readers.

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