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Fasten-ated by buttons! One woman's extraordinary collection of 12,000 buttons up for auction

Posted on 26/02/2019 in Press Coverage

Thousands of ‘exquisite’ antique buttons made from everything from gold and silver to nuts are expected to spark interest from collectors across the world.

The collection, gathered by Rebecca Lloyd Marlow over the course of more than 20 years, will go under the hammer at Hansons Auctioneers’ Spring Fine Art Auction on April 5 and could make more than £14,000.

Mrs Lloyd Marlow, who originates from Nottinghamshire but now lives in France, has decided the time has come to part with her treasured collection of more than 12,000 buttons, which has dazzled experts at Derbyshire’s Hansons Auctioneers.

Valuer Victoria Sheppard, who has been cataloguing the items, said: “It’s quite extraordinary. The buttons are exquisite, almost jewel-like. They shimmer in every colour, design and material imaginable.

“This is no ordinary collection, it is a connoisseur’s collection that will appeal to everyone. Mrs Lloyd Marlow must be a world expert on buttons. She knows every one of her buttons and has listed each one. All the experts at Hansons have been amazed by them.”


High quality 18th, 19th and 20th century buttons.

The buttons, which date from the 18th century to the mid-20th century, come in 18 categories including ceramics, horn, brass, Bakelite, glass, silver, diamante, steel, gold, enamel and rare vegetable ivory - or nuts.

Mrs Sheppard said: “The nuts of the Taqua palm, which grew in the rainforests of Peru in South America, were used as ballast in ships in the early 19th century. In 1859 an Austrian wood carver called Johann Hille was the first person to use the nuts to carve buttons and hand colour them. It’s possibly the largest collection of early vegetable ivory buttons in the world.

“There are some exceptional Art Deco buttons and the ultimate set is a collection of 19th century buttons and studs including horn, enamel, cut steels, diamante and gilt. Designs include three red horn buttons inlaid with a mosaic of mother of pearl, plus floral and Art Nouveau creations (main buttons image). Makers such as Henri Hamm, Albert Patent of Paris to name but a few stand out.

Mrs Lloyd Marlow, who describes her hobby as a ‘button fetish’ said: “My roots are in Nottingham and the East Midlands and my background is in antique and vintage costume and textiles. This led to my fascination with buttons.

“The collection began more than 20 years ago when I relocated to France and has been trawled from the many markets, fairs and brocantes (second-hand shops) found in Paris and other areas including the south of France.


Buttons made from vegetable ivory - nuts.

“For example, I have sourced buttons in Paris’s Clignancourt market as well as Le Mans, Bordeaux, Lyon, Montpellier, Nimes, Avignon, Isle sur La Sorgue and Beziers.

“I am absolutely fascinated by the infinite variability and varieties of style, design, colours, shapes and manufacturing techniques used in their production – now long since discontinued.

“This collection will interest a wide audience including serious button collectors, designers, artists and craft enthusiasts. I also feel it's an inspirational archive source for manufacturers and producers.

“At the age of 70, it’s time to say au revoir to my passion. I hope my button collection will kindle new interest in this fascinating collecting area.”

The Button Collection is due to be sold in Hansons Spring Fine Art Auction on April 5.
To find out more, email [email protected]

To see a video about the Buttons Collection CLICK HERE.