New Futures for Birmingham`s Historic Buildings

The Friday Photo: Buttons

Posted May 10th, 2013 by Birmingham Conservation Trust with No Comments



The Friday photo by Clare Overton Lewis ( button display at BMAG)

I’ve always loved a button! A simple yet decorative way to fasten clothing, so I was thrilled when I visited the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and saw their display of 19th Century Birmingham-made buttons. The button-making industry really took off in the 19th Century and became an important industry in Birmingham, with over a hundred button-making companies in the city, Birmingham buttons were exported worldwide. Even Charles Dickens wrote an article on Birmingham’s button trade in his ‘Household Words’ magazine. Wages for button-makers varied widely. An artisan could earn as much as £4 a week. An ordinary male worker about 25s. , a female worker about 15-20s. and children as young as 6 years old were employed and would earn as little as 1s. a week.

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