For the last 40 or so years, Karen Kline has toured several cities in the Lone Star State as a member of the Texas State Button Society.
Her latest expedition: Central Texas.
Kline, who lives in Dallas, made the 180-mile trip down southwest to Brownwood on Saturday to attend the TSBS’s fall workshop at the Adams Street Community Center, where more than 100,000 different antique buttons were on display for aficionados and the general public.
“Everybody likes something different, but I like the (buttons) that show the animals on the front,” said Kline, who has traveled to states like Connecticut and Missouri to attend annual National Button Society Conventions.
This year’s occasion is scheduled for Aug. 1-6 in Denver.
“You get to learn about history,” Kline said.
She said she owns more than 1,000 different antique buttons. She started collecting them after inheriting several from her mother.
Antique buttons dated back as far as the 18th century were available for viewing and purchasing. Some were more valuable than others.
The Kagamibuta button, which has a samurai warrior on its front, was available for a hefty $1,200. Some 18th-century copper buttons, a few that were pimpled with rhinestones, cost $450.
Marlen Hudson, a TSBS judge who has also assessed on the national level for the last three years, said it is an intricate process, as they study the design, texture and the buttons’ appearances, among other details.
“We try not to get too critical with it,” Hudson said.
The delicacy of the buttons are the factors that make them, some as tiny as quarter, have price tags that match a house mortgage or car payment, said TSBS judge Marilyn DeHay.
“Their age and the rarity,” she said.
DeHay, who has more than 20 years of experience as a judge, also said prices of these antique buttons ascend because of their quality of workmanship.
“It’s labor intensive and very cost prohibitive today,” she added.
With tables full of strewn buttons, none were probably more attractive than the pair sported during the late 1700s.
Jerry DeHay, husband to Marilyn, owns two buttons that were worn by dignitaries during the inauguration of former president George Washington. He has them placed in a case — and not for sale.
“Every time I go to schools and let kids feel them,” he said,” I tell them to tell their parents that they touched a part of history.”