Sunday, August 2, 2009

Bone Button

Stalwart catalogers, Anne and Kelley--having first dried off after a couple of hours of water screening--identified this bone button from Stratum 2 of Unit 52 (Compton Field).

Buttons such as these are fairly common on historic period sites, particularly of the 19th century. Shell buttons are also common and I will write a piece on them some time soon based on my research on shell button making in Delaware.

Both bone and shell buttons can be made with a simple lathe and drill technology. The lathing is particularly evident on the reverse side (lower image) and drilling is clearly evident in the holes on both sides. This piece is about 0.67" (17.25 mm) in diameter and 0.17" (4.25 mm) thick. The bone likely is from a large mammal and the source of the manufactured piece (i.e., domestic or imported) is uncertain. There were stores in town that sold buttons and other goods necessary for the making and maintenance of garments.

Buttons fall within that category of artifacts likely to have been lost, rather than intentionally discarded, but the fact that this item has been broken suggests that it was intentionally removed from a garment after it broke and then thrown away. That suggests that the deposit whence it was recovered represents trash disposal.


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