National Button Week 2013 Part 6: Wellington Buttons

Battle of Waterloo; from the Fleurus edition of Napoleon La Grande Imagerie

Battle of Waterloo; from the Fleurus edition of Napoleon La Grande Imagerie

“Waterloo!  Waterloo!  Where will you meet your Waterloo?”  ♫  ♫  ♫

That song lyric is from the old Stonewall Jackson recording, thanks to a reader–do
you remember it?
No?  Well, do you remember the date June 18, 1815?  That was the date of the Battle
of Waterloo where Napoleon was defeated by The Duke of Wellington.  And how that
battle went depends a lot on whether you’re reading a French history or an English

But the bottom line here is that generals wore great buttons on their uniforms.  It’s
a huge category for button collectors—-immense territory to cover.  I have a small
specialized collection of buttons about Waterloo and Wellington.

Often, buttons were made  to commemorate an important victory or general.  Then
these were proudly worn on uniforms.  From what I’ve read,

Hey! where are you going? Keep reading, it can only get better . . . From what
I’ve read, the fronts of the buttons were plain,
the “decoration” or dedication on the back.  This is not the case for
the first two buttons shown.  They are French buttons and maybe old enough to be
part of the Waterloo history.  I’ll share them.

Two French military buttons ©booksandbuttons

Two French military buttons ©booksandbuttons

The top one has a “1” inside a circled bugle,  is 7/8 inch, and is marked BREVETé
Bruxelles.  The bottom one has crossed canons over a large anchor, the Navy
Marine Artillerie, and is also 7/8 inch, and is missing its back. See next photo
for backs. Remember that you can click to enlarge. It’s difficult to get good
photos of these buttons because they are dark and old. Only the most stalwart
button collectors will be able to finish this post! Just kidding—there are some
bright ones coming up, too

backs of "Waterloo" buttons ©booksandbuttons

backs of “Waterloo” buttons ©booksandbuttons

I bought these buttons along with 7 other “Wellington” buttons all in one lot
on ebay.  They arrived attached to the notes the former owner had made–and
she had good references from old Button Society magazines and button exhibits.

Mounted Wellington buttons against backdrop of The Duke of Wellington painted by Lawrence 1814. Collection of Apsley House.

Mounted Wellington buttons against backdrop of The Duke of Wellington painted by Lawrence 1814. Collection of Apsley House.

Let’s run through the backmarks of the seven buttons.  All the fronts are plain.

The smallest button is #5 at 9/16 inch and the largest is #7 at 7/8 inch.

WATERLOO RICH ORANGE "bandb" denotes ©booksandbuttons

WATERLOO RICH ORANGE “bandb” denotes ©booksandbuttons

#1 is a beauty.  Looks brand new if you don’t look at the front.  Marked WATERLOO
RICH ORANGE Treble Gilt.  The term rich orange refers to the gold gilting process.

All the buttons have a metal loop shank.



I’m having fun using that portrait of The Duke of Wellington to show off the buttons.
This fine one has a circle of short lines surrounding the shank, and a sprig of laurel
at the base.

WELLINGTON withwreath around shank

wreath around shank

#3 is decorated with the Wellington name as well as a laurel wreath surrounding
the shank, see it?

WELLINGTON anddecoration


#4 has star points surrounding the shank, as well as a laurel sprig at bottom.

Amazing variety, hm?



#5 is the smallest button in the group, but still room to write WELLINGTON,
with a tiny + mark.



#6 . . .only the stalwarts who are left will be thrilled by #6–it is a 2 piece button.

The button was made in a 2-step process, with two different pieces of metal.
All the others are a solid piece of metal. This backmark adds “PLATE” to the
Wellington name.

WELLINGTON, laurelwreath


And last is #7, the big guy, dark and old, but retains its grandeur with a
laurel around the shank.

Well, I think together, we’ve met our Waterloo!  Farewell to National Button
Week 2013.


You already know me---I'm in your book club. I've been in your book club in Wisconsin, in New York, in Missouri, in Connecticut. Now I'm in your book club in Pennsylvania. I love books! (I also collect buttons!) I'm looking forward to having conversations about books with people just like you----who also love books and want to talk about them. Send me an email: booksandbooks (at) me about a book you are reading. (or buttons of interest)
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