The Button Collector

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The manufacture of military buttons has been thoroughly researched and excellent records are available for time of use.

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If you have another hobby - say collecting glass - you will find buttons to match your hobby. If you collect paperweights, a great selection of miniature paperweight buttons is available. If you collect art miniatures, the painting under glass found in buttons is a match for your treasures. Many stamp collectors have found buttons to pair with their stamps.

Coin collectors can often find old coins which have been made into buttons. Most anything you can find in the world of antiques has been duplicated on buttons. Buttons come in such a variety of materials and subjects that it would be impossible to name them all. Here it can be said that materials go from A for aluminum to Z for zinc - and that includes such odd materials as bread dough, butterfly wings, chicken skin, hair and wax. Subjects cover just about anything imaginable and it would be easier to name the subjects not covered than to list those covered.

This is a nearly perfect hobby, inasmuchas it represents examples of just about all materials and subjects man has chosen to collect. So if you choose button collecting as your main hobby or as a "go-with" hobby, there are thousands of options from which to choose. If I sound evangelical, I hope I can share some of my zeal with you. As a button collector, I have had more delightful adventures, enjoyed more discoveries of the unexpected, made more friends, and had 28 years of pure joy from a hobby that has taken me all over the world. What does the hobby have to offer? For the past 60 years there have been national, state and local organizations established for the purpose of having a forum for collectors to share information and buttons.

If you would like a lifetime voyage of adventurous discovery of beauty, history, art and fine craftsmanship, why not set sail with us on the great ship of buttons. Take a good look at buttons for the first time. It is a new frontier of challenge and hope. It will also become a magnificent obsession in a treasure hunt for the rest of your life. There are many books available on buttons. In the last sixty years, much research has been done and many books have been written on the subject of buttons.

Membership in the National Button Society will entitle you to five magazines each year, withcolor supplements. Each chapter begins by describing a button from the jar and the item of clothing that it came from or the reason it was bought. Some of the events have national significance, others are much more personal. Some are tragic whilst the significance of others is not necessarily apparent at the time. What they have in common, however, is that all have consequences for the extended family in some shape or form.

I loved this book from the start. I felt I got to know the characters through the glimpses provided by the vignettes and it was a very difficult book to put down. I liked its gentle progression and the way in which the episodes captured the prevailing mood of the times in which they occurred. It is not a short book but I was still disappointed when it ended. The book has also made me look at my jar of buttons in a new light. It has now been moved from the shelf to the windowsill so that it can catch the light.

Buttons are just too important to be hidden away. Something to connect, to hold things together. Not perfectly — not strong and fast like a metal zipper — but holding them together still. But do read this book - if you use buttons, you'll love it. May 09, Bobbi Reed rated it it was amazing.

The Button Collector is a book to curl up with—and into. Caroline inherits a jar of buttons from her mother, a collection compiled over generations from the cast-off clothing of her family. A few of my favorites without giving any spoilers: Caroline has long felt like an outcast in her family, and as she looks through the buttons, she begins to find a peace and understanding of her place in the family, her relationship with her mother, and the prospect of a relationship with her cousin.

Caroline sorts through the buttons while simultaneously sorting through her feelings about her mother and her family. Each button inspires a piece of the saga of her family, and the great pleasure in this book is the reveal. With each story, a character comes into view, the dynamic of the family becomes clearer, a piece of history is set in place.

Some of the stories are heartbreakingly sad and some are more lighthearted, but all are moving. My Mother's Tin of Buttons I almost passed this book by thinking,"How exciting can a button collected be? Maybe because I could relate to Caroline so much. Instead of it being a cousin my mom wanted, it was my best friend. My mom has been gone almost twenty-nine years and my wolves are not calm. I hope I can find that tin of buttons May 01, L. Frazier rated it it was amazing. What a wonderful book!! The story unfolds in a series of stories all related to buttons Caroline, a young woman, pulls from a Jar left to her by her mother.

We learn the story of the tragedy that set up the situation that has colored the lives of Caroline, her mother Emma and her cousin Gail. In the end of course healing is set in motion and the world comes right - not perfect, but right. Kudos to Elizabeth Jennings for such a wonderful book! Apr 14, Katie Winkler rated it it was amazing. Its Southern settings enhance its universal appeal. Just finished re-reading "The Button Collector," and so glad I did. May 09, D Bish rated it it was amazing. Like pouring buttons out of a jar — I was mesmerized by one story after another.

Each revealed a part of the history that starts with Emma and her brother and ends with Caroline and her cousin Gail. I will be recommending this novel to my book club for our August selection. I suggest you do too! Jun 26, Margie Van Evera rated it really liked it. A wonderful read about a woman finding out how she really fit in with her family members; and the relationships with family members.

Button collecting

The catalyst for her reminiscing and remembering past events in her life is her deceased mother's jar of buttons. She sifts through the jar remembering buttons from clothing of her relatives. This story was heartwarming and reminds me of the box of buttons from my grandmother that I have in my own sewing room. May 07, Robin Lucas rated it it was amazing.

I'm not big on long reviews. I liked this book. The premise of having a story for each of the buttons was interesting. With my busy life it allowed me to read a little bit at a time and actually feel like I had another piece to the puzzle with each story. Elizabeth Jennings did a great job! May 16, Katherine Matthews rated it it was amazing. Once I stepped into Caroline's world, I was hooked. Reading this book was like sitting down with a plateful of freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies. Once I polished off one delicious chapter, I could hardly wait to take a bite out of the next.

May 31, Bella Bartels rated it it was amazing. Buttons are such little things - but they can hold big memories. I enjoyed the way this novel unfolded, story by story.


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Families are always complicated, especially mothers and daughters. If you have a mom or a daughter - this is a must read! The story kept shifting time periods and characters, which might be confusing or distracting in another book; in this one it fit since the buttons were examined randomly, thus their stories and memories were varied as to person, place, and time--in this instance it worked well. Jun 03, Joanne rated it it was amazing. I highly recommend this book. Interesting story line, quality writing. Here is an author who knows her craft. Apr 15, Laura rated it it was amazing. Enjoyed this book and all its southern charm.

The concept of bringing something as simple as buttons into the story of a family's life and heritage is beautiful! Oct 01, Brenda rated it it was amazing. I will never look at a button the same. When it comes to reviews,sometimes it is best to keep it simple: This is a good book and one I will share with others. Buttons It was a little hard to follow with all the people and the different time periods. But once it settled down it was an interesting read of a family's history told through buttons.

Loved the story behind each button Seemed out of touch with the rest of the story. I have my mom's buttons and this is why I read it. Jul 21, Lizzy Baldwin rated it it was amazing. I loved this book from the very beginning, for a start the characters are warm and deeply described. Caroline is a difficult character to read at first as she comes off as a little cold and difficult to read but we learn that family relationships have created this tension. The supporting characters are also built up with strong character profiles; Gail is conscientious with a strong moral compass but there is a desire to break from this mould creating an unbalanced but riveting character, Emma i I loved this book from the very beginning, for a start the characters are warm and deeply described.

The supporting characters are also built up with strong character profiles; Gail is conscientious with a strong moral compass but there is a desire to break from this mould creating an unbalanced but riveting character, Emma is loyal and motherly, but strained and confused about her daughter Caroline creating tension between the three as a unit. This allowed for a number of sub-plots and relationship quandaries which gave the storyline depth and although each of the stories is only a snippet into the lives of the characters rather than a continuous storyline I really felt like I knew the characters which was simply wonderful.


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I also really enjoyed reading about the struggle to belong that occurs between Caroline and Gail, they both have their insecurities and it creates a powerful message throughout. At times when reading it is not always apparent what the stories are moving towards however they all contribute towards an ending. The strings may not be perfectly sewn up and there is room for the reader to imagine and create their own ending but the author leads us to an finale which is really nice. Sometimes when I finish a book I wish the author had tailored things off a little neater but here it is just perfect.


  1. Book Review: “The Button Collector” By Elizabeth Jennings!
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  8. In terms of the writing style the descriptions are warm and cosy. The writing style is homely and inviting and reading this snug in my cardigan I got a sense of calm and utter happiness. They bounce in the light as they hit the surface. They make a pattering sound. Circles of colour dancing and spinning and calling my name. I must admit as soon as I finished this I got myself on Ebay and sought out a beautiful glass and my first button for my jar. I cannot wait to read it again; the progression is gentle but captured the story perfectly and took me on a wonderful adventure.

    Reviewed By Mary Ickes

    Definitely worth a read; hopefully one day I will have a jar that will create beautiful memories for me as well. Apr 01, Laura rated it it was amazing Shelves: The Button Collector is a book about little things that can come to stand for big ideas and anchor us to life and to who we are. The novel starts when Caroline finds a set of buttons in a flea market. These seemingly inconsequential items evoke memories that compel Caroline to take out the forgotten jar of buttons that used to belong to her mother. As she examines the contents of the jar, each button evokes an important part of her life and taken together, help her come to terms with her relationship with her mother and her perfect cousin, Gail.

    As Caroline inspects each one with the benefit of age, experience, and time, she re-evaluates her life, affirming some choices, while gaining the courage to face and repair her mistakes. I really enjoyed the pace and structure of the novel, marked by a different button that opened up an entire story that filled in an additional part of who Caroline was and how she related to it Read the rest of my review: Jul 15, Kim rated it really liked it Shelves: Finished The Button Collector last night. I did love that book.

    I like the method of story-telling used in this book - we, the readers, have snippets from lives shared with us and we are expected to put it all together. This feels for me much more like how we experience any story in life than a linear narrative does. Slowly, through the telling of the stories of the different characters, we are exposed to the multifacetness not a word but should be of humans, relationships and family.

    It is hard Finished The Button Collector last night. It is hard to share a plot in a review of this book because there really isn't one. There is a woman who has a jar of buttons and each button that is selected is connected to a story from her family. Essentially I suppose this book is a multi generational epic tale of family, life, death and struggles, but that makes it sound so heavy and dusty.

    It really just felt like a long friendship between me and the button collector being remembered in snippets. The bits left out didn't matter, kind of like how real friendships and memories work. I will miss the people in this book and I wish them well in their ongoing relationships. A lovely story that somehow left me depressed.

    Carolyn finds a jar of buttons that had been collected by her re-read mother.

    Button Collecting

    The story is told in vignettes as she sorts through the buttons: Each button triggers a separate memory and story, and together the stories weave the history of this family. Carolyn is the daughter who A lovely story that somehow left me depressed. Carolyn is the daughter who rebels against all her mother Emma's expectations, yet yearns for her love and approval years after her death. Gail is the cousin who, "should" have been Emma's daughter, the cousin who grew up without a father and with a self-self-centered mother who had little time for her daughter.

    Buttons are described as practical items that "hold things together - not tightly like a zipper, but loosely. While I appreciated the storylines, and liked the focus on growing up in the s and 70s, it still made me sad - perhaps because of my own relationship with my mother who had little in common with Emma. Sep 05, Jayne Bowers rated it it was amazing.

    Every family has its stories, and I loved the author's novel approach of using a series of button-related vignettes to share events and changes in the life of her family. All families have sadness, pain, death, and challenges. They have periods of closeness and of separation, and yet despite time, distance, and even death, there is a connection between family members.