When Were Buttons First Used?
Nobody knows when buttons were first used, or by whom. Museums have in their collections bone buttons older than written history. The Greeks used gold disks as buttons more than 4,000 years ago.
The first buttons were worn simply as decorations. To fasten robes and loose garments, the people of early times used strings, sashes, buckles, brooches, and pins.
In the 13th or 14th century, someone found that a button pushed through a slit in the cloth made a better fastener for the close fitting garments that were coming into style.
Then buttons became so prominent that in some places sumptuary laws were passed putting limits on their use.
In the 20th century, buttons became primarily utilitarian, not decorative, and in many applications were supplanted by the zipper. Buttons began to be made of plastics such as cellulose, polystyrene, and polyvinyl resins; designs tended to be abstract or geometric.
Mass-production machines produce molded buttons either by compressing powdered plastics or by injection—forcing liquid plastic into individual molds through small openings.