Sensational snap-together buttons
Published: April 20, 2009
Snap-together buttons are snappy, snazzy, colorful, and just plain fun. They're especially appealing to collectors because of their amazing variety of styles, shapes, and subjects.
Three-part birthday cake
Plastic "adult" snap-togethers imitating other materials
Non-plastic materials (clockwise from top): wood, horn, leather
Birthday cake unsnapped
White loop is snapped in place; button sew-through holes are on right piece
A selection of snap-togethers, including four-part star
Balls and car are movable
Snap-togethers have two or more precision-molded parts that snap together to form the button. Generally, the shank is attached to the top, and the shank snaps through a hole in the base. Another type of snap-together is held together without shank involvement. Instead, the parts are attached by pin-like extensions that fit through small holes in the base. One may also find snap-togethers with sew-through or movable parts.
Rounded and unusally shaped parts often create a three-dimensional effect on snap-togethers. These three-dimensional buttons were first manufactured in two parts. Later, three, four, and more parts were added. The collector's quest is to find buttons with as many parts as possible.
Although most of these buttons are synthetic polymer -- mainly polyester, nylon, and ABS plastic -- they were also made of wood, metal, leather, and horn. Some have a base made from one material and a snap element of another. Embellishments and finishes may include rhinestones, fabric, flocking, cold enamel, transfers, glitter, and paint. Plastic snap-togethers are also great look-alikes: One can find examples imitating bone, horn, tortoise shell, wood, rhinestones, metal, glass, fabric, leather, ceramics, and even gemstones such as turquoise, alabaster, and agate.
Pictorial subjects run the gamut. Most common are those that appeal to children: animals, fruits, veggies, flowers, and objects such as roller skates, footballs, and sunglasses. An "adult snap-together" (so named by collector Wilda Gould) might feature a gold metalized plastic base with a velvet-like dome or pearlized cameo top.
These unique buttons first appeared in the late 1990s and their numbers peaked in the late '90s. Today, one can find a few snap-togethers in button, yarn, and fabric stores, but most are carried by craft stores in bags of embellishments or are available from button dealers. Nearly all snap-togethers were imported from France, Italy, England, Germany, Spain, Japan, and a few other countries. A hollow style has recently come from China.
Now is a good time to collect these buttons because they are still inexpensive but are becoming less plentiful. Their distinctive attributes make them a desirable modern collectible.
Joan has been a button collector since 1971 and belongs to local, state, regional, and national button societies where she benefits from both the friendships and the buttons. She served as National Button Society classification chairman from 2000-05 and is first vice president of the society. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gould, Wilda. "What's New? Snap-Together Buttons," National Button Bulletin, February 1995.
Weingarten, Lucille. "Simply Snazzy Snap-Togethers," National Button Bulletin, July 1995.
Howells, Jocelyn. "Snap-Togethers," National Button Bulletin, October 1997.
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