A Division of BlumenthalLansing Since 1877

Try your hand at these button questions and see how many you can answer then spring them on your friends!

1. Where did the word button come from?
From the French “bouton” meaning bud, protuberance, or any round object.

2. Who once wore 13,600 buttons on his clothes?
King Francis I of France wore that many golden buttons on a court costume!

3. Why did the Chinese wear five buttons on their coat fronts?
As symbols of the five principals virtues recommended by Confucius – Humanity, Justice, Order, Prudence and Rectitude.

4. When and where were buttons used to indicate rank?
Certain Chinese officials in the days of the Empire wore buttons on their hats to show their rank. The men of highest rank wore ruby buttons. Then came, in order, buttons of coral, sapphire, lapis lazuli, crystal and others.

5. Where were buttons once used for money?
In America, buttons were used for trading with the Indians.

6. How many different kinds of buttons did the British Army in France use during World War I?
367 different kinds. Buttons were considered so important to front line troops that any kind of a button could be requisitioned and delivered within eight hours. The British Army spent $500,000 per year just for the paste used to polish brass buttons.

7. What were the first buttons in the United States made of?
Metal. In 1750 Caspar Wistar, a German immigrant began to manufacture brass buttons in Philadelphia.

8. How much did Louis XIV spend on buttons?
Louis XIV is said to have spent $600,000 on jeweled buttons.

9. What does the expression “brass button” suggest?
Authority and service.

10. When did the words “Vive La Liberte” appear on buttons?
French buttons with the words meaning “Long Live Liberty” were used during the French Revolution. Some French Revolution buttons were made of cloth with embroidered emblems.

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