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Can You Dig It?

I have a particular fondness for buttons that have been recovered from muddy fields, river banks and hedges.  My romantic vision of them having ‘pinged’ off during a particularly lively five mile point is, of course, idealistic.  The practice of spreading fields with ‘shoddy’ – ground up rags – means the number of buttons, of all and any types, dug up is in the hundreds of thousands a year.

I recently joined a group on a well-known social media site, that specialises in buttons dug up by metal detectorists; not that I am one myself, but in the hope of finding a hunt button or two for sale.  I was immediately rewarded with a trio of 19th century buttons: Two East Kent and an unidentified ECH, which, given it was dug up in East Cornwall, points to it perhaps being an early version.

These ‘finds’ spurred me on to share a few of the relic buttons I have.

p1020246  p1030020  p1030031

Above:  East Corwall (perhaps).  East Kent and an early Essex Hunt (presumably)

p1030022  p1030024  p1030026

Above:  Fox mask recovered from Braich-y-Cymmer Farm, so likely to be for that pack circa 1800.  An original Cresselly Hunt button, and a late 18th century button recovered from the banks of a Welsh river.

p1030025  p1030030  p1030028

Above: A lovely early Llangibby, Cotswold and Bedale.

p1030029  p1030038  p1030035

Above:  Cambridge Hunt, Raby Hunt and the Fife Hunt.

p1030039  p1030040  p1030032

Above:  Sundorne (Mr Corbett’s)  The Wackland Harriers ( William Thatcher’s from the Isle of Wight), and the elusive ‘True Blue’ or Firm, Free & Independent Hunt, which evolved over time into the Cattistock.

And now some ‘Unknowns’

p1030036  p1030037  p1030027

Above:  LH, possibly hare hounds?  K&HH – not a clue.  BH, not Duke of Beaufort’s, but maybe Bicester?


Above:  BH.  This might be an early version of the Berkeley Hunt Farmers’ button, but it’s yet to be confirmed.


Above:  I had to show you both of these, because the condition of the cuff button is so poor.  It is not confirmed, and can never be, unless documentary evidence is found,but everything about this button (size, design, date, location found, backmark) suggests that it is quite/very likely to be that of Mr Noel’s.  “Mr. Thomas Noel hunted his private pack in Rutland in 1732 but sold it to Sir William Lowther in 1788, whom then established the Cottesmore.” (N. McShane).


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