Saturday, February 26, 2011

Charm Strings

Nineteenth century folk lore states that a girl should acquire 999 buttons on a string.  When she added the thousandth button, she would meet her future husband.  Victorian Charm Strings were a fad of  the late 19th century (1860s—1900).  One version of the charm string has each friend and member of the family donate a button.  Another version states that gaining the thousandth button would doom the girl to spinsterhood.

All accounts follow similar rules for gathering the buttons:  no two buttons should be the same, they should be gifts from friends or family, they could be traded with others and they should never be bought.
While unfinished, the charm string was kept in plain view to inspire others to contribute buttons or to share stories of how the buttons were acquired.

To begin, a young girl would tie a large button, called a touch button, onto a long string.  She would continue stringing until she completed the string with her 1,000th button.  Original charm string from the late 19th century had a large quantity of very small and dainty glass buttons.  Some charm strings included meaningful amulets and tiny objects of personal association to the owner.  Charm strings with a thousand buttons are very rare.  In fact, most charm string were never finished.  Many strings were cut by family members or collectors looking for individual buttons for use in other projects.

As always, nothing going on on Sunday!


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