Keli Gwyn
‘Way Back When’sday: Buttonhooks

Unlike us, the Victorians didn’t have zippers or Velcro. They relied heavily on buttons. Lots and lots of buttons.

The buttons were often small, making them difficult to slip through their buttonholes. Enter the buttonhook, a simple device that saved one’s fingers.


The hook was slipped through the buttonhole and around the button’s shank. A tug and a twist of the wrist later, and the button was in place.

Buttonhooks came many shapes and sizes. If you visit The Buttonhook Society, you can see a number of examples. The buttonhook seen above is one I purchased at a local antique shop.

Can you imagine having to fasten the buttons on a pair of Victorian boots, such as the ones below that I saw at the Placer County Museum in Auburn, California? Without a buttonhook, the task would be tiresome.

Boots at Placer Museum

Victorians had buttons on much more than just their boots. Jackets, bodices, waistcoats, gloves and corsets all had them. Thus, it’s easy to see why a Victorian lady or gentleman would have several buttonhooks. They might have longer models at home and a shorter version in their reticule or pocket.


Have you ever seen or used a buttonhook?

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Keli Gwyn