China buttons were sturdy, everyday buttons for the working class. Manufactured in England as early as the 1840’s, these buttons were an affordable alternative to porcelain, thanks to a new, faster process in button-making. Manufacturers used a fine, dry powder in place of potter’s clay. It was compressed in molds and fired.
Chinas come in many styles and patterns. Most popular are the “stencils” and “calicos” whose designs resemble fabric. Also attractive are the “ringers” and “bullseyes,” identified by their obvious patterns.