NBS China Button Guides

The link below is a pdf file containing drawings of 326 different calico patterns found on china buttons.  They are excerpted from Guidelines for Collecting China Buttons published by the National Button Society in 1970. The text, an essential reference for collectors of china buttons, is currently out of print.

Mr. Wilfred Morgan of South Hanover, Massachusetts was the first person to publish a catalog of calico button patterns, in three small booklets in 1939 and 1940. A talented illustrator and draftsman, he drew 293 different calico patterns, in black and white, each 4" in diameter.   Beatrice and Lester Lorah acquired Mr. Morgan's drawings and collection and were responsible for the publication of the 326 calico patterns seen here. Beatrice Lorah’s contribution was the wisdom to disregard numerical order and to group similar patterns together for simplicity of comparison.  Mr. Lorah contributed drawings for 33 additional patterns and redrew earlier patterns so that all buttons were in the same position.  The originals of these drawings are a dramatic testimony to the fastidious dedication of both the Lorahs and of Mr. Morgan.

  1. Bullet Click this link to download and print the NBS China Calico Patterns:

Calico Patterns.doc

  1. Bullet Click this link to see George Gauthier's slides from his talk at the 2010 National meeting on how to decipher calico patterns:


  1. Bullet These publications are downloadable files in PDF format.

PDF files require Adobe Acrobat Reader

which can be downloaded Free from this website:


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National Button Society - Guides & Worksheets