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Many pieces of 18th century jewelry look like they are made of solid glass or diamond from a distance thanks to the close silver settings.Gold, of course, was still the metal of the rich, so large, yellow gold settings didn’t fade from use.That’s how all those enormous, ornate buttons you see on 18th century coats stay so neatly in place despite being so heavy!All of them have detailed stamps on the back with interesting sayings like “Orange Colour” and “Treble Gilt London.” In reality, they are not quite as old as I first believed.My new favorite antique store, Maine Barn and Attic Antiques, has oodles of raw, dusty crusty buttons for 10¢ to each, depending on the bin you dig them out of.Usually I paw through the enormous 10¢ button bin, but this past weekend, I ventured over to the smaller more expensive bins (50¢ each. ) and was excited to find what I thoughts were 18th century buttons: They are very weighty!Dip a strip of newspaper in the paste and stick it to a balloon.Continue doing this until both balloons are covered, then leave to dry for at least 3 hours before covering again with another layer of paste-soaked newspaper.

The late 18th century was a highpoint for silver jewelry.The children will love getting involved in this one.You can use virtually any type of paper you have lying around the house, even newspaper, so it’s a great lesson in recycling, too.Research led me to lots of metal detecting and mudlarking websites where I learned that these buttons are commonly dug up across the English and New England countryside. The English discovered a process for gilding buttons in the late 18th century and by the 19th century the manufacture of gilded buttons was in full swing.For a more detailed account, I’ll direct you to this short, well-written PDF on the subject.

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