Deccan was a group of seven states in the central portion of India on the southern plain, which in 1947, officially united to form the United Deccan States. The region has a Moslem majority, so joining the Hindu country of India was a difficult decision, but eventually the central southern area was made part of the new country rather than joining Moslem Pakistan. This region had a long tradition of fine enamel work on gold, but when the demand for luxury goods of the Raj era under the British collapsed after Indian independence, one of the successor crafts was the manufacture of Deccan buttons.
Because of the date of the formation of Deccan (1947), these buttons are believed to have been made around the mid-20th century, mainly at Hyderabad. Some are real silver and are clearly marked as such, but the majority are white metal or silverplate. Buttons with the gold color are rare. The back of the button is usually entirely covered with a long cast inscription giving the name of the manufacturer and area (sometimes spelled Dekkan), registered pattern number, and trademark such as crossed flags with a star and crescent over them, just the star and crescent, or a swastika in a rayed sun. Factory names on the back of the buttons include Blarath Button Factory, Garath Button Factory, Chonsia Factory, The Deccan Button Factory, Mohammediar Factory, and Prokash Button Factory. (The Deccan Button Factory is now listed as an attraction to visit in Hyderabad!)
Color has been added to most of these buttons and appears to be paint or very thin enamel. Many of the colors are bright and a little garish; pink, green, and blue are the most prevalent colors. All of these buttons are decorated on the front with molded design. Flowers are a typical design. Less common designs include famous men and pictorial scenes; conventional designs are also seen. Some of the buttons are more plain in designs with little or no color decoration. Most of the buttons are about the size of a nickel; smaller buttons about the size of a dime are also available. Shapes include round, square, modified square, oval, scalloped, and at least one realistic. They have long shanks, similar to those made for waistcoats or vests. The quantity of the buttons produced seemed to have limited export, and like the glass buttons of Western Germany, their use was limited by the growing use of the washing machine and dryer, as well as the trend toward men’s style tailoring in women’s garments.
Luscomb, Sally C. The Collector's Encyclopedia of Buttons. Bonanza Books, New York, 1967.
Luscomb, Sally C. Deccan buttons. Just Buttons 37(10 and 11):9, 1979.
Perry, Jane. A Collector's Guide to Peasant Silver Buttons. Lulu online publishing, 2007.
Maryalice Ditzler is a third-generation button collector having begun collecting as a junior member in the 1950s. Maryalice even attended several National Button Society conventions with her mother, father, and grandmother. In the late 1970’s, Maryalice’s adult collecting took off, and she became very active in the National Button Society, as well as the Pennsylvania State Button Society as she added to her inherited collection, particularly in post-1918 buttons. In 2005, Maryalice retired after 35 years as a copy editor/supervisor from Waverly Press and Cadmus Publishing and moved to Florida where she continues her involvement in state and national organizations and actively pursues illusive buttons.