The History of Dorset Buttons

Started in Dorset in the 1600s, this traditional craft was passed down through generations of families until machines were able to reproduce the work done by hand in the 1800s.  The first buttons were made from ram horn disks, material and thread and were in the style of a high top. In the 1700s metal rings were introduced and new styles developed such as the crosswheel.

map-dorset-in-south-west-england-united-

Thousands of women and even some children and men worked in the industry in and around the Dorset regions of Shaftesbury and Blandford.  An experienced buttoner could produce up to 72 buttons a day.  It earned woman an attractive wage while they could look after their families while working from home.  And just like today it is a convenient portable craft.

By the second half of the 18th century Dorset Buttons were in such high demand they were exported all over the world, mostly through ports near Liverpool.  They were sorted and batched onto coloured cards according to quality and who they would be sold to.

Pink card - Nobility & Gentry

Dark blue card - Middle class 

Yellow card - Lower class

Black - general UK sales 

Historical Types of Dorset Button

Blandfield

High Top

Singleton

Crosswheel

Dorset Knob

Birds Eye

Mite

Blandfield

Crosswheel

High Top

Mite

Singleton

Birds Eye

Dorset Knob