Dating buttons

30 Jan

Typical quality marks include "Extra Rich," "Rich Gold Color" (or "Colour"), "Treble Gilt," "Best Orange Gilt," or any combination of those words ("Extra Orange Gilt," for example).

While quality marks seldom tell us much, makers' marks can sometimes help to date a site.

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Many times I ended up removing all the patina, and with it the backmark as well.

Editor's Note: The preservation of finds is every detectorist's responsibility.

Proper cleaning can be an important part of that process, but whatever the method, it should always be accompanied by appropriate caution.

All of us, myself included, have made mistakes in judgment with cleaning methods, but I'd like to share some of the methods and techniques that have worked best for me in the past 20 years of metal detecting. There are millions of these underground, and most folks don't give them a lot of thought. The backs of flat buttons frequently have either a maker's mark (company name) or a quality mark.

Both types of marks on the reverse of buttons are called "backmarks." Quality marks were the manufacturer's way of promoting their product.