Just A Hook? An Exhibition of Buttonhooks and Related Artefacts 

This summers feature exhibition brings together a vareity of hundreds of buttonhooks, all uniquely individual in their own way. 


Amongst the array of beautiful decorative pieces at Art & Antiques for Everyone, discover this summers' feature exhibition which brings together a collection of hundreds of carefully designed buttonhooks, all with unusually designed handles that will be sure to amaze you. Children's shoes, Buttonhook Society, Art & Antiques for Everyone

What is a buttonhook?

Buttonhooks as we recognise them today are instruments in the form of a hook, which were used to pull buttons through their buttonholes. They were particularly useful if the fabric of the garment was tough or unyielding, as with stiff leather buttons on footwear, gloves and costume. Between the 1890s and 1920s they were necessary items. Almost everyone had his or her own button hook to use. 

History and Origins

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 buttonhook survived until the 1800s in association with the military buff coat, also with gaiters and leggings

Buttonhooks exist today which can be reasonably dated from the 1800s 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 while glove hooks, often made in steel with Mother-of-Pearl or bone handles, had been in use since the 1850s, the introduction of silver glove hooks became widespread from the 1880s.

The Exhibition

An exhibition of button hooks? Surely a hook is a hook - in this case, a hook to pull buttons through holes on boots, shoes or gloves. As you can see from the origins and will discover at the fair, the handles of buttonhooks, though - they are something different.

Discover a long silver handle in the shape of a swans neck and head; dogs, bears, owls, sea shells - wildlife subjects are endless. 

In addition there will be brass fireside companions with places of interest from around the country and steel shields featuring American landmarks. Trench art handles are made from World War One materials and South American nuts carved into grotesque faces.  See fine silver handles from major silversmiths and delicate use of semi-precious stones and colourful enamels. There will be legs galore; musical instruments and sports equipment; multi tool penknives and hunting knives; advertising hooks in all shapes and sizes, not to mention imaginative uses of wood, plastic, bone, mother of pearl and horn.  

Silver buttonhook, Buttonhook Society, Art & Antiques for Everyone



The Buttonhook Society

The Buttonhook Society was formed in 1979.  It is made up of people from all over the world and from all walks of life with collections ranging from 20 or fewer to literally hundreds of buttonhooks. Some members specialise in one particular type of hook, whilst others like to collect very widely to include as broad a range as possible.

Collections are often started by individuals who may think that they are on their own in that particular field.  Once they discover a society with people who share their love and have access to hitherto limited information, a whole new world is open to them.  The specific interest brings these people together and long lasting friendships are formed all over the country, all over the world.  The Buttonhook Society values and welcomes new members.

Buttonhook Society, Art & Antiques for Everyone