John Wesley Hyatt of New Jersey patented the first semi-synthetic plastic in 1869 while attempting to invent a replacement material for ivory billiard balls. His invention, called celluloid, proved unsuitable for pool tables. However, its innately moldable properties made it a popular choice for various other everyday items, including toys, knitting needles, cutlery handles, collar cuffs, jewelry, and, of course, buttons.
Celluloid buttons were produced in many different ways in the early 20th century. The button we chose for this beautiful necklace was cut from a single sheet of thick celluloid. This type of button, called a celluloid wafer by collectors, was popular in the 1920s. Wafer buttons were commonly embossed with simple geometric designs and used to secure then fashionable baggy coats.
The celluloid wafer button in this stunning design hangs via two hand-wrapped wires between a lovely vintage Art Deco celluloid Tight Top button and an antique brass filigree ball button.
Tight Tops celluloid buttons were made by stretching a translucent, colorfully patterned celluloid sheet over a piece of domed metal.
In this piece:
Large Art Deco pressed celluloid wafer coat button, circa 1920
Small stencilled celluloid tight top button, circa 1930
Brass filigree ball button, circa 1900-1918
Brass-plated pewter setting made today in the USA
Brass triangular Art Deco stamping made today in the USA in vintage dies