EnFor the Media/Press

Now celebrating over 80 years as a society, with membership on four continents, the National Button Society (NBS) is actively represented by state and local button clubs in 39 of the 50 states and 16 countries.

NBS members engage in a fascinating journey of discovery, involving history, art, and fashion, that encompass centuries of clothing button usage, as well as related items such as buckles. With a passion for studying, displaying, and trading buttons, members may create art or jewelry using clothing buttons without harming them.

NBS promotes educational research and exhibitions, publishing and dissemination of information about buttons, and related items, and the preservation of their aesthetic and historical significance - all for current enjoyment and for future generations.

History of Button Collecting

Button collecting was first recognized as an organized hobby through the founding of the National Button Society in 1938 after a collector's appearance on the radio show, "Hobby Lobby". The region show sparked a real interest in this unusual hobby, which just about anyone could afford during those lean years, and it sparked a national search of attics, basements and sewing rooms for buttons.

The first Button Show, was held in Chicago in 1939. Many state and local button clubs were established during the 1940s, and many of those clubs sponsored their own button shows, a tradition that continues today with buttons shows held throughout the United States, Canada and Europe.

FAQs for a collector

Q: What do you look for in a button?

A: The historical significance; the subject matter of the button; condition; the material it's made from, intricacy of design & manufacture, does it fit with other categories… Yes, the list is long.

Q: Where do you find your buttons?

A: There are several button shows each year. Sometimes a local antique shop will have buttons; there are online sales and auctions; even telling friends that you collect – they often have their grandmother's button box tucked away.

Q. How do you display or keep your buttons?

A: NBS recommends 9" X12" mat boards placed in categories, such as by materials, shapes, plants, animals, or objects. There are dozens of different categories found in the NBS Blue Book – the official NBS Classification & Competition Guidelines. Also, collectors are innovative in coming up with display and storage ideas: hanging lovely “button pictures” on their walls, storing buttons in wooden printer trays and other handy items, all the while paying attention to what is needed to preserve those buttons. For example, Celluloid Buttons have to breathe so no jars or plastic bags, please.

Q: What is your favorite?

A: Every collector will have a favorite or more than one! Story buttons; china buttons; pearls (shell); black glass; Jacksonians; lacy glass… or even just pretty buttons… you get the picture.

Q: What are buttons worth?

A: Prices range from pennies to many hundreds of dollars.

Q: What advice would you give to a new collector?

A: Join the National Button Society and a state and/or local button club. There are button clubs in 39 of 50 states as well as several clubs in Canada.

Logo and Policies

The name, National Button Society, is a registered trademark of the National Button Society. Specific regulations regarding the use of the Logo are listed . Permission must be applied for and obtained to use any of the images on the National Button Society and Button Country websites.

ter Text

For the Media

Welcome! Here you’ll find a general introduction to the National Button Society (NBS), links to other useful information. We hope you take advantage of these and help spread the word about some of the exciting initiatives at NBS.

Should you have any questions or comments about the material provided here, don’t hesitate to reach out to:

Kendall Clark, NBS Publicity Chair  

National Button Society

Promoting educational exhibits, encouraging research,

publishing information, and preserving for future generations

all that is beautiful and historic in buttons.

Founded in 1938 with 87 charter members from 19 states, the National Button Society (NBS) today has over 2,300 members from 36 states and 10 countries. It’s also represented by over 150 local button clubs across our nation and Europe.

Members continue the rich history of collecting, learning, sharing research, and marveling buttons’ seemingly endless font of storytelling, beauty, craftsmanship, and history that began a century earlier. One of the earliest references to collecting buttons is from a Dave Elman radio show, “Hobby Lobby” that aired in 1938 during the Great Depression. Perhaps it was the darkness of those times that moved so many listeners to take stock of their buttons—just about everyone had buttons saved at home. From this impetus, the NBS was born at the 1939 Chicago Hobby Show and button collecting was first recognized as an organized hobby.    


Above, clockwise: Chicago Hobby Show, Stevens Hotel (now Hilton Chicago),1939; award ribbons from 1941 NBS Show; early button collector, Nellie P. Van Buskirk, 1939; charter members photographed in 1947; display of scrapbook and archival material.

One of the primary functions of NBS early on was creating a framework for collecting:  a system for organizing buttons and a common vernacular with which to describe them were needed. So began the development of what is known today as the Blue Book. The Blue Book is the recognized, definitive reference for understanding how buttons are classified: by age, material, design, and use, for example. Classification continues today as new discoveries are made.

A highlight at NBS each year is the week-long Annual Button Convention. Here, button experts, dealers, and collectors gather from all over to learn, compete, shop, and connect. The air is electric, and the passion and inspiration are catching. The competition and educational buttons on display as well as those for sale are something to behold. The convention is open to the public for three days and first-time attendees are often caught awestruck by a world previously unknown to them. They will, no doubt, never look at or think of a button the same again.