Vintage buttons are made out of a variety of interesting materials. One example is Bakelite. This is an early form of plastic used for things such as dominoes and Billiard balls during the 1920’s and 1940’s. To find out if your button may contain this material, use Formula 409 or Simichrome polish. In addition to the aforementioned Bakelite, celluloid, casein, and Lucite also existed during the time periods Bakelite was discovered.
Mother of Pear is the iridescent inner layer of a mollusk’s shell. Large, carved buttons found on coats and jackets most likely contain this valuable material. Additional materials you might also see include glass, wood, vegetable ivory, rubber, leather, metal, and china.
Buttons shaped like realistic items such as flowers, faces, and animals are called figurals or realistics. There are numerous collectors for these types of vintage buttons, whichever material they are made from. The attraction is that the button looks like something other than a button and the designs can be quite unique.
Uniform buttons are also interesting. History buffs, along with military veterans, show a great interest in metal buttons formerly found on military, police, fire department, and many other uniforms. Carved buttons will have a design or insignia carved into the center. Large carved buttons that measure around 1 1/2 -2 inches can be found made from quite a few different materials. This list is virtually unlimited, leaving a huge and profitable vintage button market.
Antique stores, flea markets, estate sales, and garage sales can be excellent places to discover these vintage treasures. Buy these buttons in bulk if possible and negotiate a low price for the whole lot. Then sort the buttons into smaller lots or individual pieces for resale to make the most profit per item. Collectors are most likely looking for specific items to add to their collections. Some vintage buttons can sell for $70 or more on eBay.
To learn more about selling vintage items on eBay, visit the eBay Coach Blog.