Throughout history, as cultures have changed so have the buttons.
That makes the current convention at the Best Western Regency Inn a way to travel through time.
The Iowa State Button Society is holding its annual show this weekend, for the 20th straight year, in Marshalltown. The show is open to the public and features more than 500,000 buttons, with some dating back to the 1600s.
T-R PHOTO BY ANDREW POTTER
Button dealer Gary Brockman from Wisconsin sorts his buttons for sale at the Best Western Regency Inn Friday. The annual show of the Iowa State Button Society is being held this weekend. The show is free and open to the public from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.
Show manager Mike DuBay-Mixon said the dealers arrive from throughout the country to sell their unique buttons. She said many in the group know each other.
"This is my button collector family," DuBay-Mixon said.
Gary Brockman is a dealer from Wisconsin and said his buttons from the late 1700s tend to receive the most attention at his booth.
"That was a time of huge social and cultural change," Brockman said.
He travels the country dealing buttons and recently came from a show in Connecticut.
"We drive about 40 to 45,000 miles a year," Brockman said.
One collector checking out the buttons was Peter Weller of Washington, Iowa. Weller, a retired teacher, collects railway uniform buttons.
"They are antiques in miniature, and they are artistry," Weller said regarding the buttons.
Dubay-Mixon said the convenience of having the show in Marshalltown is the reason they have returned for two decades.
"It's centralized to get here," she said.
The show has free admission and goes from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Best Western.