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Buttoned up

Of the Keizertimes

Most people probably think of buttons as mostly utilitarian items, those occasionally troublesome things we use to fasten our shirts and blouses.

A few minutes with Deborah Hanson are more than enough to change your perspective.

“Buttons are a great way to engage with history, there are political buttons, fashion buttons, ones that can tell you about the history of a family and some conferred status,” said Hanson, a button dealer who traveled all the way from New Hampshire to take part in the annual Oregon State Button Society Show at Quality Inn & Suites in Keizer May 5 and 6.

Deborah Hanson and Bryan Gilbert discuss the provenance of a specific button. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

To make her point, Hanson pulled out cards of buttons from different eras and for different purposes, even one from the campaign of President William Henry Harrison, who served a scant month in office before dying of pneumonia.

The two-day event included lectures, contests and opportunities to talk with fellow enthusiasts. Thousands of buttons were on display and attendees included seven clubs from five states.

“With the contests, we ask the collectors to come up with a display of buttons on a particular theme,” said organizer Jan Stutts.

The overall theme for this year’s event was It’s Raining Buttons and one contest category was a collection displaying buttons with umbrellas or parasols. There were several entries.

For more information about button collecting, and to see a small sample of Hanson’s collection, visit