Wednesday, August 29, 2007

V is for... Vintage Buttons

When I last visited my Mother, she had a mysterious box. You know sometimes you can tell there's something exciting inside without even looking? I felt it.

Vintage buttons - lots - six pounds by weight! I nearly wet myself. They had come in as a donation at the charity shop where she works and she was sorting them to be carded up for resale.

The first words on my lips were 'How much for the lot?' and then reality kicked in. How long would it take me to use six pounds of buttons? But I wanted them - to touch them, sort through them, wonder what beautiful garments they originally adorned.

So I've volunteered for a little (or as I've come to realize, fairly Herculean) task. To sort and sell on these glories for the Hospice.

So at least I get temporary custody, if not outright ownership. A duty of care if you like (alongside a big clean up job, because they're pretty filthy some of them).


I've got light ones, chunky ones,

dark ones (engraved 'Saville Row'), tortoiseshell ones,and crazy multicoloured ones.

Now I need a bit of advice - call it market research if you will. Would people prefer to buy in small or large lots? Do you like your vintage buttons in sets or a mixed bag? E-bay or Etsy? I don't have an Etsy shop, but I've always harboured a secret shopkeeper fantasy - maybe this is my virtual chance?

25 comments:

Violet & Rose said...

I buy alot of vintage buttons on e-bay and generally, I like to buy them sorted by colour and size. Although the bright coloured mixed lots seem to go for a packet! Good luck. What a lovely find.

Joanna Butchart said...

i buy vintage buttons off ebay. have just bought 350 random lot. If you look on ebay there are both kinds - sorted into types or a whole mixture. As you have so many i would try both. I would sell in bundles of about 350 and you will probably make more money. Bidding is fast and furious for buttons. I paid £8 for mine including postage.

Louise said...

My goodness what treasure! I buy buttons on ebay and have bought mostly in small groups of colour and style.

monica said...

oh... I don't have any advice right now.

Just envy.

raspberry said...

I would say nice sets on Etsy, you will get more money for them, and then job lots of eBay.

And do you have any mother of pearl ones???????

cindy said...

I would love an assortment of all sorts. I would love to buy a set as long as it included the tortoise shell button and the big ivory one in the top right corner of your 1st photo.

June said...

I pretty much echo Monica's comment posting!

However, if you're trying to raise funds for hospice, you could cut pretty paper cardstock into index-card size and attach buttons complementary to the paper print. For example, if you have a pretty pink floral, then attach buttons that pick up the colors in the paper. You could sell each card for more than you could make as a large bunch. This is a lot of work but looks lovely and inspires folks to buy them--it could be an ongoing project for hospice volunteers to help raise funds.

hazeljoy said...

my friend's sister has a phobia of buttons.

i'd sell on etsy - you're selling for charity and craft minded people may pay a smidge more than bargain hunters on ebay.
as for size of lots? i'd do matching sets as far as you can, then mixed (maybe themed) sets.
oh and take good photos, including something for scale, and let me know when you're gonna put them up as i want first go!

gina said...

I bet you end up buying some of them for yourselve..LOL..those colorful ones are hard to resist.
I have bought and sold vintage buttons. I've found out with my experience that the neutral colored ones seem to go better in larger lots and you can sell colorful and unusal ones easy and they go fairly well in smaller lots. But from the look of them, they are all lovely and will more than likely be sweep up in no time.

janet clare said...

I think you should make them look as 'vintage' and desirable as possible - do a styling job on them! My sewing machine can sew on buttons (take the foot off and set for a buttonhole type stitch, start the needle in one hole and off you go) - might be worth a try if you've got millions of them to sew on.

greetingarts said...

I love buying my buttons at the thrift store, in large bags or little glass jars, I guess I like sorting through and touching them all myself. Oooh, if I were you I wouldn't be able to resist, and would keep them all!

French Knots said...

I would put the lovliest ones onto cards to sell on etsy, perhaps stamp the card to make a background so they look even more tempting.
I like to buy larger batches on ebay to rummage through but am more price aware on ebay.

Megan said...

Buttons! Buttons, buttons, buttons, buttons ... I want buttons! (Seriously, how much for a mixed bag/card/whatever of those colourful ones?)

nuttnbunny said...

This is an obsessive dream come true. :-)

Claire said...

I have that tin! I got mine from a charity shop for 50p. I have been really lucky to have been given a ton of vintage buttons (not literally, as I would have problems storing them!) Love the blog - will come back again. If you had the time they would look lovely on cards in sets, especially if you used something like old postcards or cards as the backing - makes them more attractive. I also recommend washing them in bowls with warm water and a tiny bit of washing up liquid, leaving them to soak if you can, and rinsing in a sieve. Looks odd but works well.

meg said...

score! and i love the tin. i would have a hard time parting with those buttons.

Missy said...

I love mixed bags! You never know what treasures you'll get. OH HOW FUN. I have soooo man buttons, but can always use more. Sell on Etsy. It's fun!

Missy said...

I love mixed bags! You never know what treasures you'll get. OH HOW FUN. I have soooo man buttons, but can always use more. Sell on Etsy. It's fun!

Poshyarns said...

Oh my, I am shaking with excitement just reading this, how can you bear to part with them?

I have bought several mixed bags from ebay, I think mixed bags seem to work out better value for the buyer and there have been some real treats in amongst the rejects.

Well presented vintage sets often seem to go for quite a lot on ebay and the better you present and photograph them the more they go for. I have had some bargains just because they were so badly photographed that no one else would take a chance. Of course, your photos will be great because your blog photos are always lovely.

Eren said...

Oh, how wonderful!!! Your buttons are heavenly. You got some great advice...I agree with June and Gina. And if you are up for a swap...buttons for some other things (vintage fabrics or aprons), shoot me and email.

Lisa said...

I'd go along with French Knots says. You'll make more money on etsy, and you'll faster and cheaper on Ebay.

Blimey Ali, YOU SHOULD DEF HAVE AN ETSY SHOP!!! Your stuff is lovely, and you also have a great accompanying blog which really helps things along. Go on, you know you wanna!

TinkerBlue said...

I buy off both Ebay and Etsy. I prefer Etsy or buy it now on Ebay, just because then I don't have to wait and see if I win the auction. I am impatient.

I alos like buttons sorted by colour and size. But I don't like wading through all the listings on ebay, so I normally buy mixed bags, unless I am looking for something specific.

heidicrafts@gmail.com said...

I like to buy by color, a mixed bag of new and old. I love to possiblity of finding one really cool button intermixed with plain jane everyday buttons.

Jox said...

ohhhh, what a fab job, to have to sort through them all!!!

I have brought mixed lot's on ebay cos I like the randomness of a tin of buttons.
But i agree with the others nice carded sets on etsy and big random bags on ebay.

Bev and Ollie "O" said...

I just love buttons!

I used to buy lots from charity shops in Herne Bay, but Belgium seem to not have many charity shops bar one; SPIT.
I can see me Christmas visit turgning into a second hand shop blitz with me returning with old fabrics and buttons!

I love the button photo's they remind me of pebbles.