Windmill Button

Windmill Button


Conservator’s Notes

This highly decorative, machine stamped copper alloy and iron button has landscape imagery that was popular during the 19th century ─ a windmill. Upon initial visual inspection, the face of the button was covered in corrosion products common for copper alloys and had no magnetic pull. The back was made from iron. Very little iron remained, but red corrosion products and a weak magnetic pull confirmed its existence. Since the cleaning technique for one of the materials could potentially damage the other material, careful consideration had to be made.


In this case, the copper alloy section was very stable, but the iron section had almost completely deteriorated. Due to its deterioration, the iron corrosion had to be removed by mechanical means under magnification with a micro scalpel. The corrosion layers on the copper alloy side were removed with a micro scalpel, fiberglass brush, and steel wool swabs. After the corrosion was removed, the button appeared to be plated with a gold-colored metal, but no analytical study was performed to confirm the identity of this third metal. After being rinsed with acetone, the button received two coats of Acryloid B-72, which acts as a moisture barrier and will allow this object to be handled without the risk of damage caused by skin oils.


Curator’s Notes


This button is decorated with the finely molded image of a windmill and a farm scene. It appears to date to the 19th or 20th centuries and would be related to the Brome occupation of the site from the 1840s into the early 20th century. Such decorative buttons could have adorned a variety of clothing. However, given its dimension it seems likely to be from outerwear. Intriguingly, a 20th- century outbuilding on the Brome estate was called the Dutchman’s House.


button6This button is of a class called Victorian figural buttons and represent the type of buttons used on outerwear.

two similar buttons from online auctions and a coin bearing the same symbol.

Two similar buttons from online auctions and a coin bearing the same symbol.