The new period of the collection came after the passing of the person, who was very close to me, my father (†1998), who was a top expert in the field and who was the founder of the collection. The dilemma emerged - either to sell the large button collection or to continue myself and study the topic further.
I have indeed decided to continue
the family tradition and bring joy not only to me, but also to others through my continuosly growing knowledge of the field.
Don´t be mistaken, to be a well-educated button collector and not just accumulator is not easy at all. One must have fairly extensive geographical, historical and political knowledge, as well as some technical knowledge from the field of button industry. The entire difficulty of the research is ultimately outweighed by the intoxicating inner joy of the each acquired and categorized piece. All the collectors know it very well.
Uniform button - joy and lesson
For example we learn from the collection of the nobility buttons, that the semispheric button with the prince´s emblem of the Thurn Taxis dynasty
(produced around 1785 in Vienna) was worn probably by the courtier of his majesty prince, according to the heavy gold plating. Also the giant buttons, for example with the emblem of Dietrichstein, count of Auersperg, Herberstein
or the prince Kinsky
, were worn on liveries of the courtiers. There are more than 200 aristocratic emblems - Czech, Austro-hungarian, French, German, English, Spanish and Russian...
Every fan of history will be definitely interested in the collection of church pins, headed by massive coat-of-arms-button of the 20. bishop of Hradec Králové, Josef Doubrava from 1903-1921, or the button of the Saint-Moritz order, who was related to the italian branch of Saint Lazar.
Another interesting story provides the owner of the grenadier button from the 3rd regiment of Napoleon I. or the button collection from the Prussian-Austrian war at Hradec Králové in 1866, or from the french campaign on the Crimea.
A very valuable piece in my collection is the set of the English military regiments buttons
from before last and last century. Among them there are Oxford Buckingham Infantry, West Kent regiment, China regiment and Royal Horse Artillery buttons from 1873.
A very nice is also the set of the russian czarist fasteners, including signals,artillery and navy buttons. The great part of the officers buttons, which is gold - plated, doesn´t lose shine even after 100 years.
The collection of the Austro-hungarian imperial railway buttons, as one of the most valuable parts of my collection, is supposed to be the largest one in our country (and not only there).
It contains 142 different buttons, of 42 types and of 30 railway companies. Unfortunately I have been unable to categorize few pieces despite the abbreviation on the faceside. To the railways, that I have been able to figure out, belongs for example Ústecko-teplická railway from 1858, Czech business railway, which operated the railway from Hradec Králové to Ostroměř (19.3.1882), Railway of the empress Elizabeth, railway Lvov-Černovice-Jasy and also the button of the oldest railway in the collection - Buštěhrad railway from 1830.
I shall also mention the set of buttons from all known airlines, most of the naval powers of the world, French foreign legion, buttons of Kuwaiti army, Cuban police, button with Maltese Knights´ emblem, Canadian Airforce or the button of first Slovak state and Hlinkas guard from WWII. Not to mention the complete series of numbers of Austrian regiments and battalions from war of 1866 from 1 to 80.
In my button collection, there are several interesting things.
It regards the buttons from Prussian-Austrian war from 1866 at Hradec Králové, excavated on the battlefield : 6th Dragoon regiment of A-H found near Střezetice, where the A-H cavalry launched the last and futile attack against the Prussians, just before fleeing.
I also own the button, which was hit by the dragoon´s saber, moreover the button fragments of 5th and 25th A-H yeger from the forest Svíb near Chlum. Under the command of Lieutenant Marshal Thun Hohenstein the 2nd A-H army corps the A-H forces saw their only winning, but at the cost of high casualties. Even though more than 10 thousand people died in the battle, it was in vain. I have two buttons from this battle - buttons of A-H cuirassiers, 2nd division of heavy cavalry of major general Coudenhove.
Buttons renovation and the collection storage
Whenever I obtain a button, at first I wash it with soap water then I use tooth brush or goldsmith brush. Never shall I use the brute force, which can result in ireversible damage of the surface.The buttons, which used to have high gloss i.e. gold coated or silver coated need to be repolished with felt wheel.
The individual sub-collections of my collection are stored at the plates, which I have designed myself
. They are made of 10mm thick MDF
material, in which there are little cups. The cups are filled with velvet and have place for the eyes of the buttons. The plate is later painted and framed with wooden ledges. The whole collection of the buttons is stored in special boxes.
The archiving of the buttons is carried out usually on computer, each button has its unique number, it is precisely measured and described in detail. Another part of the archive is the big amount of literature including the correspondence with the experts, who I consult the registration with. Currently I own several thousands of buttons, mostly represented are army and military forces.
Lately I specialize even more in livery buttons, railway buttons and buttons of other transport companies.
It is pity, that there is a lack of real collectors in my field, and an increase in number of those, who don´t collect, but sell on exchange markets or through advertisements for 1000 or more for a single piece.
Member of IUCC (International uniform buttons collectors club) Belgium
Founding member of the C.S.S.U.K. (Czech society of the uniform button collectors)
Uniform buttons - the largest collection in the Czech republic