Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Button Wednesday : Napoleon's Buttons

It is Wednesday again, so it's BUTTON DAY on my blog !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This week the Button Wednesday has a strange title, and it is also a strange story. The legend says that the army Napoleon led into Russia in June 1812 had been outfitted, because Napoleon had sought to cut the cost of the uniforms by ordering tin buttons instead of brass ones. When temperatures dropped during the French retreat later that year, the buttons crumbled, leaving troops exposed to the murderous elements. He did not know that tin undergoes an allotropic transformation at low temperatures and turns to dust. His men discovered this fact the hard way.... This process is known as tin disease or tin pest, which causes regular metallic tin (also called white tin) to become gray, powdery, and brittle; when gray tin comes into contact with previously uncontaminated white tin, the condition can spread like a fungus. In modern tin casting and plating, the tin is alloyed with small amounts of antimony, bismuth, copper or lead which prevent the decomposition. Pewter is such an alloy, traditionally containing 85–99% tin, with the remainder consisting of copper, antimony, bismuth and lead. So pewter buttons are save !

Pewter buttons were and are, therefore, very popular and often used in traditional costumes, like the Norwegian Bunads (pictures from my little Norway and Maria Kragh on Etsy)

They are also used in the Scottish Highland jackets (pictures from Highland Island, Highland Secrets, and ScotWeb)

They are also popular at the moment at handcraft markets; you can often see them in the making. They are often made with the most lovely patterns ! (pictures from Jim Rosengarten and Camilla Valley Farm)

Have you seen a lovely, beautiful, stunning, crazy button or button-related thingy, or did you make something with a button / buttons, or did you even make buttons yourself, blog about it on your blog on Wednesday, and give the link here in the comments so that everybody can enjoy it !!


PetitPlat Miniature Food - Stephanie Kilgast said...

Oooh interesting bit of legend/history!

Gisela Suski said...

I am so enjoying all this info, beautiful buttons. Many years ago I would play with my aunts button in her old canister and play games.

Star of the East said...

Great story, how a button can make such a difference!

silvia said...

I like to have found you and read, see buttons of all kinds ... I love the buttons, especially the old buttons!