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Metal removable buttons

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I have 2 older uniforms. The Boy Scout one was bought on E-bay and was listed from the 1950's. I have a Cub Scout one that has a patch dated from 1960. Both have metal buttons that are held on by wire split rings like on a key chain, but smaller and thinner. During day camp in 2010, I had a display for the scouts to see. Another leader and I were discussing how they were held on. He thought it was so they could be removed when the shirt went through the old washing machine ringer. This would prevent them from being crushed. Does anyone know if this is correct, or have a different idea?



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My first "experienced" Cub uniform in 1951 had those buttons on it, but my Boy Scout uniform, bought new in 1954 had regular buttons on it. I have a couple of old uniforms from the Thirties and a set of buttons from a wool uniform from ca. the Twenties that have the wire loops. Those are not metal and made of something designed to look like bone.


Given that washing machine ringers were not universal prior to the Forties, but that cleaning on a washboard was, I would guess that was the reason. It would be much easier to run the shirts up and down those things without the buttons and would not wear off the enamel on the buttons. Just a guess.

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Uniform clothing back in the 50's normally had removable buttons because for the most part they were worn once and then laundered. This means that all cotton uniforms needed to be pressed. "Mangles" were large ironing equipment for home use that allowed quick ironing of such items. They rolled the clothes against a hot plate. My father was a milkman and needed 5-6 uniforms laundered each week, Mom had a mangle in which she would iron them rather quickly. My sister had 5 kids and cheap clothing that she used a mangle on to iron cotton clothing for a large laundry day. With the onset of cotton/blends, permanent press, etc. workplace uniform contract cleaning, the need isn't there any more. Now we've gone back to hand irons - if irons at all.


Of course if one had 5-6 uniforms for work, one only needed 1-2 sets of buttons and thus saved the cost of special brass buttons which during WWII were difficult to get.


When I worked as a bus boy in a restaurant I had two uniforms which had removable buttons. Wore one, laundered the other every day. Needed only one set of buttons. This was in the late 1960's


Stosh(This message has been edited by jblake47)

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