Friday, 18 November 2016

The button box ............. when every home had one

Now if you can remember Sidney the knife sharpener who called every fortnight, along with those plastic flowers given away with every packet of Daz then the button box will be equally familiar.

In that age of “make and mend” which pretty much lasted until the 1960s buttons were bought and more importantly saved from all old and discarded clothes and were stored in the button box.

My mum had one and so did my Nana and I bet yours did too.

So when my friend Ann sent me these pictures the memory of the button box flooded back.

She told me “went upstairs to put something away, and decided to look through a box, found my Mum’s button collection.

Thought this might be of interest.

Not often you get buttons which 'will not break in the mangle' these days!”

And of course that set set me off with the mangle.

Ours was big, and green with heavy rollers and a giant hand wheel.  It stood in the corner of the kitchen and was only abandoned when mum got one of those top loading “Service” washing machines which had an electric mangle.

This electric mangle was positioned above the tub so that the excess water would go back into the drum.

The new machine almost took the drudgery out of wash day but not quite, because you still had to fill the washing machine with water, and drain it by means of a tap at the bottom.

It would not be until 1964 that we got a“Bendix” front loader which was connected directly to the water supply.

All of which is a tad away from Ann’s buttons but not so because as she said they were mangle friendly.

And like so much of that period these buttons were sturdy, long lasting and reliable, unlike the plastic ones mum bought for the cardigans she kitted for my sisters.

Even the electric mangle which was more delicate than the old one could destroy these “arty farty” buttons or at the very least so render them chipped and broken. that they were all but useless.

So the development of the all in one washer which spun and dried the clothes was a distinct advance.

And that perhaps hastened the demise of the old fashioned button, along with the growing use of plastic alternatives and the end of making or repairing your own clothes.

In turn that pretty much spelt the end of the button box for many people.

Moreover it would render obsolete a whole range of dressmaking accessories like the small instrument for spacing buttons and button holes which Ann also found in that button box.

Location; 1940s

Pictures; buttons & a guide to dressmaking, from the collection of Ann Love

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