1. “Just the Facts, Ma’am”

  2. The facts on this webpage are the express opinions of the author of each button topic. The opinions expressed here should not be taken as “the rule” in competitions. The National Button Society does not take any responsibility for the content of this page.

Ges. Gesch. is German and an abbreviation for Gesetzlich Geschützt, a backmark

which means Protected by Law, = design patent.

M. From Germany


This is what Sally Luscomb said about sleepers:

"A term used for certain black glass buttons by Mrs. Edith Fuoss in her book Black Glass. The term actually refers to the collectors themselves who failed to notice these buttons. Black glass buttons were usually molded round and had metal shanks. The dull fronts were painted with satiny concentric designs in deep greens or browns. Some had white enamel dots. There are other black glass buttons with classic figures seemingly in the same texture of paint; perhaps a little ground glass was mixed with the paint. These buttons have the same colors as the 'sleepers'. The classic figures very often appear on square and rectangular buttons.

Carol C.

As far as the sleepers – Luscomb’s definition above is very confusing since it sounds as if the button types described are actually called sleepers.  I found Sleepers in the Fuoss Book and here’s what it says  on p. 94 of my edition (tried to scan it but my book’s too thick):


SLEEPERS  “We are not sure who coined this word.  It is used to describe an interesting button or a special kind of a button you may be looking for, ‘asleep in a dealer’s poke-box’ – The finder upon such a discovery quickly says, ‘Oh, I have found a sleeper.’  A dealer definition of a sleeper in the good old ‘poke’ was overheard by us recently to be liken unto the sweetening of the ‘kitty in a poker game.’  A button, the value of which the dealer knows, but the buyer got the impression she (the dealer) did not, so promptly tells her friends of the sleeper, creating a keen interest in the said poke.  When interest dies down the dealer then would again sweeten the Poke – That is the case with these buttons…. “


She goes on to describe and show the black glass buttons painted with concentric rings, etc.  It looks to me as if she’s just illustrating that these rather dull forgettable buttons, when put together on a card can be interesting - and could be considered sleepers since most collectors would pass them by.


I think nowadays sleepers aren’t confined to poke boxes.  Treasures are where you find them. 



British Artid Plastic was formed by two German brothers in 1939 a few months before the start of World War 11. The company were making plastic mounts for cameras which were fitted to spitfire airplanes and when the pilot opened fire the cameras would record the action. Like Fritz Lampl of Bimini and thousands of other foreign nationals they were interned for a short period .with the outbreak of the war.  This plastic factory was

probably the finest in England and not only produced buttons for around a year (1946-47) which was a commercial disaster (ironically the same year as Bimini went into liquidation) mainly because clothes rationing was still on and it was the coldest winter for a hundred years with power cuts but most importantly the high numbers of scrap buttons that occurred during drilling the hole for the shank. They made some stunning works for other companies the plastic prayer book covers were little works of art as was the cigarette boxes to name two of their many collectable products. They painted some of the black buttons but not all button production stopped suddenly. One of the joys of my journey was meeting the workforce who worked on the buttons in retirement mostly ladies who were still rocking and rolling in their twilight years. They taught me the art of how to shock your children my growing old disgracefully and keep on rocking until the main man  brings down the curtain and you leave the stage. .


Jim S.

“Livery Fish vs Heraldic Dolphin's”

The livery fish button looks like a cold water fish diving into the torse or coronet. There are other versions. To clarify as to if your button is n heraldic dolphin or fish refer to the Fairbairn's book of crests. Here are some great illustrations:




Deborah H


The word "fibule" itself is not in the french-english dictionary so I googled it and here is the (translated) page that comes up. It would seem to be a very early form of clothing closure. I learn something every day from these buttons!!

Fibule, is also the name of the button collectors' organization in France.

Jane Q.


Deborah Hanson of Byson Buttons has created an elegant and brilliant new acronym for us button collectors.  It was introduced, and so remains, on their website.

I think it is very useful and everyone should know about it:  SIP  Stuff in Plastic.  HOORAY FOR DEBORAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Jan P. 

Satsuma buttons

I do not want to give you a lecture so I will be as brief as possible. Background---- For over 250 years Japan during the “Edo” period would only trade with the Dutch and China until Commander Perry of the United States Navy arrived with his six “Kurofune” or in English “Black ships” in 1853.

 This led to the treaty of Kanagawa in 1854.which allowed trade and diplomatic relations with Japan and caused years of unrest with the feudal lords... Some of Japans best art was made for export only and encouraged by Emperor Mutsuhito who chose the title Meiji meaning “ Enlightened rule “ Exports to the west started in 1868-1912  including Satsuma  buttons.  In the U.K. they  adorned ladies apparel  or could be bought in sets of six in different sizes.

Jim S.



This is a nice article about your sheep in a sling button, which includes both the mythological roots and it's current use as a retail logo (or vanity button!?!).

Here is a link to some information about Sam Biern.  I downloaded this image from someone who posted it on BB a while ago.

  1. B.James

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