Button, an article used for the fastening of clothing and for ornament. Buttons may be divided into two classes, those with shanks or loops for fastening them to garments, and those without. The manufacture of these useful articles involves various processes, some of them very interesting, and varying according to the materials used. These are metal, horn, shell, glass, mother-of-pearl, jet, vegetable ivory, and whalebone, besides the woven stuffs which are employed for covering button moulds. Birmingham is the most noted place in the world for the manufacture of buttons. In this country it is extensively carried on in Waterbury, Conn., and in Easthampton, Mass. The principal manufactories in the latter place were established about 1848 by Samuel Williston and co., who had previously owned similar establishments in Haydenville, in the same state. They give employment to 250 hands, consume annually $75,000 worth of stock, and produce from $200,000 to $250,000 worth of buttons. In the manufacture of gilt buttons, brass containing very little zinc is used. This is furnished to the buttonmaker in strips, out of which the disks are cut by a machine. This process is so rapid that one person can prepare about 12 gross in an hour. The preparing of the shanks is a distinct branch of trade.

They are made of brass wire, a coil of it being put into a machine, in which one end is pushed forward gradually to a pair of shears, and the wire is cut off in small pieces. It is then bent, and, being compressed between the jaws of a vice, forms an eye. A small hammer next strikes the two ends, flattening them, and rendering the shank ready for use. The labor of fastening these to the button is performed by women. When properly adjusted, a little solder and rosin are applied to the spot where the two come in contact, which melts on being heated, and on cooling firmly unites them. The buttons, after thorough cleansing, are now ready for being ornamented, either silvered or gilded, as may be desired. If tho former, a mixture of silver in solution, salt, and cream of tartar, with some other ingredients, must be stirred together, and the buttons washed with this preparation. For gilding, great care is necessary. An amalgam of gold leaf and mercury is used. This is gently heated, poured into cold water, and then strained through wash leather to remove the excess of mercury.

The portion left in the leather is dissolved in dilute nitric acid, and applied to the buttons. (See Gilding.) To so great a degree of refinement was this art carried in Birmingham, that three pennyworth of gold was made to cover a gross of buttons, so that the thickness of the precious metal could not have exceeded 1/214,000 of an inch The next process is to free them from all the mercury by heat. For this purpose they are thrown into a wire cage within a furnace constructed in such a manner that the mercurial vapor is conducted into a vessel containing water, in which it is condensed. This process is termed drying off. Burnishing completes the work. - As the fashion of buttons is constantly changing, new forms and new materials are always coming into use. Moulds covered with silk, velvet, or other material, have in a measure superseded gilt buttons. The process of making covered buttons is very ingenious, and a full description of it would occupy many pages. Most of the machines are worked by hand, or rather by a treadle, while others are moved by power, and have many beautiful automatic movements. The first covered buttons were made upon wooden moulds which were turned in a lathe, the cloth being simply stretched over them and sewed together upon the back.

Since the introduction of machinery in the manufacture, iron moulds, or shells, have been substituted, as being cheaper and more easily worked. The iron used comes in thin sheets called tagger's iron, and is made in Europe expressly for buttons. The shell is cut and formed with a die moved by steam power, and resembles a cover to a cylindrical box. One machine will cut and form 50 gross in an hour. The shell and cover form the face of the button. There are two kinds of covered buttons, one called silk back and the other iron back. The former is the latest invention and is the most in use. The silk-back button is made in a die worked with a treadle. It is first formed in two parts, the face and the back; the face consisting of the shell and the cover, which latter may be of silk, lasting, velvet, or whatever material may be desired, while the back is composed of four layers: first an iron blank, which is a concave circular piece of tagger's iron, somewhat smaller than the shell; next a blank made of pasteboard; then a blank of canvas; and over this the silk back.

These parts are each formed in a separate die, and then by a suitable contrivance are brought together, when the back is introduced into the shell and cover, the cover being at the same time turned over the edge of the shell, while both are forced down firmly over the back. After this they are placed in a press by which the centre of the back is formed into a nipple which answers the purpose of a shank for sewing on. The iron-back button, instead of having a simple disk or iron blank in the back, has a ring or collet of tagger's iron, through which a nipple of the cloth is forced to form the shank. This collet forms the outside of the back, while in the silk-back button the iron blank is the inner layer. The back, instead of containing four layers, only has three, an inner one of paper, a second of cloth, the third being the collet. The method of joining the two parts is similar to that for the silk-back button, the back being introduced into the face, and the latter turned down over it. All the machinery for these processes is very simple, though beautifully adapted to perform the work for which it is intended; but the machinery for making buttons for braces is perhaps the most ingenious and interesting.

The movements are nearly all automatic, the only work which is done by hand being the placing of the face and back of the button in a long tube by which they are fed to the closing machine, and in a subsequent part of the process the placing of them in the dies in which the holes are pierced and countersunk. These buttons, after the parts are stamped out and placed together, pass in process of making three automatic machines: the closing machine; the stamping machine, which gives shape to the buttons and stamps upon them whatever letters or device they are to bear; and the piercing and countersinking machine, which for simplicity and true mechanical ingenuity is scarcely excelled by any other kind of machinery. - A kind of button, having an eyelet of shank by which it is fastened to the garment without sewing, has recently come into use. The machinery by which it is manufactured is also very ingenious and perfect in the performance of its work, and a great number of buttons can be turned out at a very small cost.

The face and back of the button are made very much in the same way as for other buttons; but in place of holes or a cloth shank, a cone is formed in the centre which serves to spread and rivet the eyelet or shank when the button is fastened to the garment, which is done by a machine worked by hand or by a treadle. - Vegetable ivory buttons are made in large quantities at Leeds, Mass., and at other places in this country. The nuts are kiln-dried and sawed into slabs of the proper thickness, and from these the buttons are cut by a lathe, after which holes are drilled in them either by a power or hand lathe. The material can be dyed of any desired color with as much facility as cloth, and will receive a high polish by friction. Horn, bone, and ivory buttons are made in a similar manner. Buttons are also made of india-rubber composition, of various forms, some being very beautiful. They are made with shanks or eyes and with holes. In either case the process is very simple, and is performed by means of a die and under considerable pressure.