This page shows the backs of various buttons which can help us identify them as civilian, work/overall and work usage by construction, materials and back marks. Included are designer/vanity/blazer, uniform-look, work/overall and other look-alike types to help you identify the differences. See link below back to Button Info. Index to see some face designs of similar types (uniform, work/overall).
Questions? Comments? E-mail Carol at:
Back Click Here: Button Info. Index.

Birdcage shank on a c. 1902-1952 British Royal Navy uniform button.
Uniform type with non-verbal scrolling backmark and "self-shank". Might be a uniform or early blazer type.
glass uniform
An unusual glass uniform button. Thought to be Czech Railway (trolley system) c. 1940's made when metals were scarce. Back shows clear glass, face is silver lustered to imitate metal.
This is a "spunback". Often found on British made buttons and most often steamship lines. This button is from the Sun Fire Insurance Co. established 1710 London (thanks to a friendly visitor for this info.)
Here's a backmark found mostly on U.S. uniform buttons and is said to be a pretty sure sign the button was used during the Civil War period, although there are a few RMDC marks that are post-CW. An RMDC is a backmark which consists of raised lettering set in a depressed channel. This is a Scovill backmark, one of the most prolific button manufacturers in the U.S. at that time.
One way to get a handle on the age of a uniform button is to notice how the shank is attached. These examples show how the shank is brazed at the base which is an older construction method compared to the inserted shank types where you cannot see any brazing compound. Those who collect and study Civil War period uniform buttons also look to see if there is "mushrooming" around the base of the shank. The button above on the left shows mushrooming where the shank meets the back of the button. The one on the right sits lower. Although lack of mushrooming is not "proof" that your button is Civil War period, this factor along with understanding of certain backmarks, face designs and other construction methods can help determine the age of a uniform button. I've been told that a very small, very round shank "eye" could be a good sign of a Civil War period button as well.
Here's a uniform button shank type called "inserted shank", it's more recent than the brazed shank examples shown above. Found on two-piece modern (after 1918 approx.) uniform buttons.
tinned iron
Here are various tinned iron back buttons (TIB), some are uniform and some are political types. This is an older metal button back (antique era pre-1918 est.). Japanning (paint) was also used to stop the cheaply made thin iron backs from rusting although many buttons are found without the paint which was fired on but did not adhere well to the button back. Many "victorian" type fancy buttons have this type of back.
paris back
Here's an unusual back on an early U.S. Navy uniform button. A Paris backmark. The shank is an elongated U shape and is quite distinctive.
Here's an interesting pressed horn button for the American Red Cross, an early example. Many are found in vegetable ivory. Notice the tell-tale "pick mark" on the back of this horn button. This is one of the things to look for with horn, also notice the striations of this natural material present with age.
one piece
These are one-piece buttons of various ages.
one piece
Here's a closer view at the tombac (also shown above) back. Notice the back retains the silvery grey color the metal originally had where the front shows brassing. There is material from the shank insertion that sort of squishes out around the thick wire shank, this is typical of tombac shank construction. Tombacs are widely considered to be 18th century buttons.
Here are more one-piece buttons, their back construction and back marks. The bright gold colored one is a 1969 dress trade issue to commemorate the Moon Landing. One is a Third Reich Nazi issue.
Some uniform buttons are found in pressed vegetable ivory. This is the Great Seal, today's Army button (since 1919). This type has a wire shank sunk into molten metal. You can find non-verbal (stars/arrows) and verbal backmarks on these. Made during a time when metals were scarce. You'll also find sew-thru veg ivory Great Seals and other uniform buttons (YMCA, KofC, Boy and Girl Scouts and others).
work btns
Backs of work clothing or overall buttons c. 1910-1930. Some had japanned (painted) backs originally but it's usually worn off. Cheaply made tin backs some with "floppy" thin wire shanks and others with a "riveted" (stud type) back. Those types were permanently affixed to clothing (usually overalls). To see some interesting face designs in this type, go back to the Button Info. Index and click on Work Clothing/Overall buttons.
Thanks for having a look, don't miss the links below.
Button Information Index

CC's Buttons

Off-site Link:
Uniform Buttons