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Old Item, New ID—My Second 1600s Find!

Posted by on May 14, 2016
17th century button

17th century button

Sometimes, an artifact can provide newfound excitement long after its original excavation because it is positively identified as much older and/or significant than previously thought. Such was the case with a button originally pictured in one of my previous posts.

Back in early January, I had found a flat button on the same quick excursion that yielded a 1621-1665 Spanish cob and my first arrowhead. At the time, I suspected that it was an older button (“older” meaning pre-dating the usual company-made 1800s flat buttons I commonly find). My suspicions were predicated in large part on the lack of a backmark (maker’s mark) and especially considering the rather crude shank (loop), which was slightly off-center and looked almost like a square nail shaft had been fused to the button and then bent over to create a loop.

In the days that followed this find, I had tried various Google searches on 17th and 18th century button types, but could not locate one that resembled mine. Eventually, with more time elapsed and no hard facts in hand, I gave up on researching the age of the button, basing its provenance only on personally held presumptions.

17th century button

17th century button

Then, while reading an article in the May 2014 issue of Western & Eastern Treasures Magazine covering the research and eventual searching of a 1600s property, I had an “Aha!” moment. In the upper-left-hand corner of page 38 of that edition, there are 3 flat buttons pictured with the caption “Further proof of 17th century occupation was provided by these early buttons.” While 2 of the 3 buttons resemble the early button I found, 1 of them is an exact match—same apparent size, same crude loop. My original hunch had proved correct. I had found a 1600s button—my 2nd positively identified 17th century item. While the identification was delayed well beyond the Spanish cob I had found on the same day, it proved to be equally thrilling!

17th century buttons

Photo source: “Innovative Research Reveals New Relic Sites,” Bill Dancy, Western & Eastern Treasures Magazine, May 2014, p.38, available at:


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