Before the age of plastic, people used organic products for their buttons: horn,bone, china, glass, metal, and vegetable ivory.
Vegetable ivory is from the tongua nut, which is a South American variety. It was sliced and carved and shaped into a variety of types of buttons. It is incredibly organic and has a wonderful patina and sheen.
Of all the things I collect, the top of the list and favorite is BUTTONS. Vintage buttons were designed, not just mass produced as plastic slabs in a factory. There are so many fabulous vintage buttons, bakelite, celluloid, czech glass, mother of pearl, but of all these, I still have a love for vegetable ivory. To pick one up is a great tactile experience: you can feel the organic essence of them. I love then also because they were workhorse buttons; used for clothes of the common man and woman. They have a history that speaks of real life which appeals to me. When you lost a button, you didn''t go out and get a new shirt, that button was important to you.
Anyway, if you love vegetable ivory buttons, you probably already know this stuff.
what goes around comes around. Love of quality and beauty of the past is happiness.