In many cultures lots of early buttons were made from antler (the "horns" of deer). Antler buttons were often manufactured by individuals working at home with simple tools. They are especially very beautiful and typical for the european Alp-countries. After the "Trachten-boom" in the 70s and 80s only a few manufacturers still make antler buttons by hand in the Alps.
Most of the antlers are collected by hunters in southern Germany, Austria, Poland and the Czech Republic. The stags throw their antlers each February and March; so they are not killed for their antlers, but their antlers are found left behind in the forest.
Everything of the antlers is used. First the antlers are cut lengthwise into flat strips, then disks are cut as close to each other as possible to get as much buttons as possible; 1 kg antler produces about 100 buttons. The disks are then beaten out of the antler strips and the button holes are drilled. Finally they are polished and sometimes also carved. The antler tops are formed into toggle buttons and the rest, dust and chips, becomes biological fertilizer for gardeners.
Every antler button is unique because every antler is unique. That makes these buttons so beautiful. There are lots of imitations made out of plastic on the market; they are all identical and they all have a snow white backside.
Some examples of beautiful handmade antler buttons I found on the internet:
Stephanie Hackstein. Buttons. History and Production. Markstein Verlag, Filderstadt 2007. ISBN 978-3-935129-40-4
Grüß Gott aus dem Raum Rosenheim: "Das Imitat ist unser größter Feind", Inntaler Hirschhornknopf-Fabrikation in der dritten Generation.