Learning the Colors
Metals in Buttons


 To a collector, Color means everything!



Learning the Colors of Metal Buttons:


merican 1778 Kings 4th Regt. RJ SILVERSTEINS GEORGEWASHINGTONINAUGURALBUTTONS.COM BCL-11WI 1-B YELLOW BRASS 35MM E.A. B-2WI 1-A BRASS 34MM GW HUNTER RJ SILVERSTEIN WI 1 A 8WI 15 A-1-RJ-Silverstein-georgewashingtoninauguralbuttons.com A-2WI 17-B LAUREL WREATH SHEFFIELD SILVER 15MM RJ Silverstein's georgewashingtoninauguralbuttons.com O


Bronze: has the broadest Spectrum of Colors, Black, Brown Blue, Green, Red, and a bright rich Gold.
Brass: mostly known for Yellow, but can have Blue, a Verde (Green Marble with white veins)               Antique, Green, and Dark Red/Burgundy.

Copper: is a Reddish ~ Brown Metal that has various combined color shades in-between.
Gold: is a deep lustrous Yellow, or Yellow-Brown Color.

Silver: is a shiny Grayish-White metal.
Pewter: is a Silver-Gray Metal that can have various lighter or darker shades.

ZL-WI 22-A GW WITH LIBERY CAP 22MM rj silversteins-georgewashingtoninauguralbuttons.com OZC-WI 4-BSV.2 LINKED STATES 34MM BRASS ISABELA'S DIAMOND NATURAL SHEFFEILD SILVER ORIG. SHANKWI 25 28MM SILVER FLORIDAWI 23-B 14mm Gilt Brass Dave Dug in South Carolina 5WI 21-A 25MM R-6 DALE EXC. NY:MASS not for sale BORDER


What is the difference & benefits between Silver or Gold-Wash and Gold / Silver-Plating:

     Silver or Gold-Wash is a term used to define the process of how a button was silvered or gilded by a Jeweler before the introduction of electroplating in the mid 1820’s. Early officer’s buttons during the Revolutionary War would have Gold or Silver-Wash applied to them. It would often serve as a distinguishing characteristic to highlight the difference between an officer and a regular enlisted men’s uniform. In the mid 1780’s, Tinning buttons was used to stop rust, and give a stronger silver appearance. By the time of the War of 1812-1815, silver plated buttons were in full swing for officers.

     These silver-wash buttons used an amalgam process, which unfortunately left worn or bare spots from an individuals constant finger placement when buttoning and un-buttoning their garments. The silver-wash process usually entailed someone hand brushing “Washing” a liquefied Silver & Mercury onto the button’s surface. Then the button was placed in an oven, and the heat would evaporate off the Mercury leaving a thin silver coating that was fused onto the surface of the button. This process was kind of archaic, and the Silver-Wash on the button didn’t hold up after extended use/wear.

Silver Plating:

     A better manufacturing method was needed by Jewelers to correct this problem and Gold / Silver-Plating (Electroplating) was introduced somewhere in the early 1820’s. This new process coated the whole button uniformly, and gave the button a more even appearance and coat throughout the obverse and reverse. Also, electroplated button’ Gold or silver didn’t wear down as fast, and it didn’t have that rub-off appearance in contact areas that washed buttons had. This new electroplating process with silver and gold was a giant leap in the manufacturing of buttons. Jewelers and metallurgist’s noted that certain metals such as, copper had an affinity toward silver, and brass had an affinity toward gold.