Bright as a button

It is amazing what our House Elves discover when going about their daily routine. House Elf Michelle explains more…

“During the cleaning of the outbuildings in July we had a little surprise… Buried in the wall of the laundry, a small coin like object was spotted embedded in the plaster between the bricks above the copper near the window.

Laundry at Charlecote Park

Laundry at Charlecote Park

On removal and further inspection of this disc it was discovered to be a button. It had some corrosion on the surface and it was difficult to determine what the detail underneath was.


Button (front and back) before cleaning

It was decided that a surface clean was needed. The photo below shows the kit that is needed for such a task! A mild detergent and water mix was used to remove dirt and loose particles. Cotton wool swabs are favoured in conservation. As soon as a mild swab shows dirt, it is changed for another to prevent recontamination by the dirt that has been removed.



The chemicals in the detergent may cause corrosive damage over time if left on the surface. To avoid this, acetone is also swabbed across the surface after cleaning. The purpose of this is that, unlike water, acetone and white spirit remove traces of chemicals and water, and evaporate quickly. Using water alone could cause damage to a surface if it is not properly dried. This includes rusting, warping and removal of water based paints and varnishes.

After cleaning it was seen that the button makes is ‘Williams and Son London’. There is also the Charlecote boars head clearly visible on the front of the button.

Button (front and back) after cleaning

Button (front and back) after cleaning

Some further research and cleaning will be done on the button. It is a fascinating find and any information gathered will add to its level of interest!”

Michelle Gayle, House Elf

Are you a button expert or do you know any? Was this button from a servant’s uniform that was once washed in the Laundry many years ago? We’d love any additional information you might have to help us on this quest…


One thought on “Bright as a button

  1. William Williams was born 28th Nov 1752-listed as a button maker 1797 at 105 St Martins Lane London-change of name same address in1818 to Wm Williams, button and trim seller
    in1822 to Walter Williams button maker and silversmith
    so our button was made between 1797 and 1818

    Brian B Wood (Thursday Volunteer)

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