Hemswell Antique Centres

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Button Hooks with Silver Handles

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Button Hooks with silver handles, dating from 1904 - 1919

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Item Reference:

59047-864-2Tip! This item's Ref-Code breaks down thus...
Item Ref Code: 59047-864-2
Item No. 59047 - Dealer No. 864 - Building No. 2


Buttonhooks are wonderful collectable items and are collected worldwide.

These Victorian era tools were designed to help pull buttons through stiff leather on shoes and boots, or to fasten buttons on garments. Most found today date from the 1880s to the 1930s, but an early reference to this useful tool dates back to 1611.

Although buttons are known from the 13th century, the first reference to a buttonhook is in the early 17th century, and its origins remain unexplored. It is possible that buttonhooks were first designed or required in the 16th century, when stout leather military jerkins and tough civilian garments were in use, and it is likely that the button hook survived until the 1800’s in association with the military buff coat, also with gaiters and leggings. Buttonhooks exist today which can be reasonably dated from the 1800’s onwards but popular use of the buttonhook seems to have arrived with the high fashion of the gentleman’s button boot in c.1837. However, it is unlikely any of these early buttonhooks were made from silver or other precious metal, the fashion for these coincided with the introduction of the ladies button boot in the 1880’s. Gloves were also a necessary fashion accessory at this time and whilst glove hooks, often made in steel with Mother-of-Pearl or bone handles, had been in use since the 1850’s, the introduction of silver glove hooks became widespread from the 1880’s.

As ladies now wished to have their shoes and boots fastened in the bedroom, by their ladies maids, it was natural for the buttonhook which lay on the dressing table to match everything else. This meant silver, or very occasionally gold. Soon every lady with social pretensions wanted a silver handled buttonhook on her dressing table. It was a challenge which the silversmiths of London, Birmingham and Sheffield were happy to meet. At the same time a parallel silver industry was developing in the USA, France and other cities resulting in a separate production of buttonhooks, some of which were exported to Britain.

Early silver button hook makers were influenced by the retrospective designs of the immediate past, which took their inspiration from classical, Celtic, Gothic and medieval themes. Towards the end of the century, The Birmingham Guild of Handicrafts was established following the principles of William Morris’s Arts & Crafts movement, adopting simple handmade designs. Despite this influence, the majority of manufacturers supplied the wants of the multitudes who could not afford the one-off designs. Others in the trade adopted a pragmatic compromise using industrial methods to produce designs in the new spirit. Many others simply carried on stamping the same designs as before.

In the early 1900’s, Art Nouveau, imported from France was having an influence on design, taking over from the previous retrospective designs. The Style, widely adopted by the mass producers, was supposed to be based on natural spirals and shapes from nature or formed by cigarette smoke. It was new and had some charm when produced by someone with an appreciation of line and form and became popular for a time in silverware.

Silver Handle - “J & RG”, Chester, c1910
Joseph & Richard Griffin were jewellers & silversmiths (of Hylton Street, Birmingham; subsequently Link Works, Soho Hill, Birmingham). They were known to have made button hooks.
Length: 7.5"

Silver Handle - Birmingham, c1919
Length: 7.5"

Silver Handle - “JCP”, Birmingham, c1904
JCP could be JC Plimpton, who were American import/export merchants (of Old Hall Street, Liverpool & Curtain Road, London, c1904/1905)
Length: 8.75"

Silver Handle - Chester, c1908
Length: 7.5"

NOTE: Price for each of (of the four) Button Hooks is £ 28.00


Item Reference
1900 - 1930, C20th (Early)
Country of Origin


  • Free Collection from Hemswell, North Lincolnshire (we can store free of charge for four weeks)
  • UK Post for £15, this applies to smaller items that we can box up and simply post to you.
  • UK Courier for £30, this applies to larger items that can be boxed up and collected by a standard courier delivery company.
  • UK Van Delivery by Hand, this applies to furniture, large items or delicate items. This is undertaken by ourselves or by a fully insured van delivery company that is personally known to us. Prices dependant on your location and size/amount of items purchased.

We are able to deliver any item to anywhere in the World, and so for any item/location, we are able to obtain quotes for delivery/shipping.

To make an enquiry call us on 01427 668 389