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Editor's Introduction

Buttons first appeared as closures for clothing in the 13th century in Germany, but they dated back as far as 2600 B.C. as ornamentation. That's a long history of something so simple and common that we now use regularly and may take for granted. Zippers, snaps and even magnets are more modern closures for clothing, but buttons are still going strong as closures on shirts, coats and as the trusty sidekick of zippers on trousers and jeans. That's not too shabby for something that's been around for a few thousand years.

Buttons have even been used to serve triple functions during wartime: as a closure, as a decorative element of a military uniform and as a hollow locket that contained miniature compasses! The humble button has come a long way from being just a decorative bit of wood or shell. It now comes in various sizes, shapes and colors, and is made from a large variety of materials.

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