July 21 is National Pin-back Button Day! Declared as a holiday in 2011 by button gurus, Ted Hake and Christen Carter (owner of Busy Beaver Button Co.), the date is based on the day in 1896 when the final patent on the pin-back button was granted to the nation’s first and foremost button maker, Whitehead & Hoag of Newark, New Jersey.
Since 1896, people have been wearing and collecting buttons to express their thoughts on a variety of topics. While buttons were developed as a political wearable, advertisers and artists quickly caught on and soon everyone wanted a button!
While the basic anatomy of a button has remained the same since 1896, the style and shaped has evolved quite a bit! Pictured on the left above are buttons from the 1890s-1900s. Included is a High Admiral Cigarette advertising button from 1896, a McKinley/Roosevelt campaign button from 1900, a Roosevelt rebus campaign button from 1904, and a Mr. Pickle advertising button from 1907. And on the right are buttons from the 1980s up to 2013. Included is a Swatch advertising button from the 1980s, a glow-in-the-dark Obama victory rally button from 2008, a Tony Fitzpatrick artist button from 2012, and a Three Floyd's brewery button from 2013.
Beginning in 2011, Busy Beaver Button Co. began creating limited edition buttons every July in order to celebrate the button's birthday, a.k.a. National Pin-back Button Day.
This July 21, pin on a button (or a few!) to celebrate 117 years of the button as a wearable form of expression!