Button enthusiasts from around the world flock to Portland

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Button collectors are here from Italy, France, Japan and around the US

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The National Button Convention is in town this weekend — and these aren’t like the buttons we see on shirts today.

Some of these precious finds are probably worth more than your car. You may have never heard of these avid button collectors, but for Bruce Beck, it’s part of his family’s heritage.

Beck’s grandparents imported 75% of the finest buttons in the U.S. today.

“The rest was history,” he said. “They became the foremost in antique buttons in the world.”

Soon after, the National Button Society was founded in 1938 in Chicago by a dozen people. Today, about 3000 people participate across the country and worldwide.

The Oregon Button Society has clubs in Portland, Oregon City, Eugene, Corvalis and Southern Oregon. They meet monthly to talk and learn about buttons.

“We have people in this convention from Italy, from France, from Japan,” said Show Manager Nancy Fink.

Fink said these buttons teach us about history, sociology, art and industry.

“We collect buttons that start from the late 1600s all the way through the modern time — even buttons you can get in Jo Ann’s today,” she said.

The convention isn’t just for buying and selling buttons — there’s a fierce competition too.

“In all of these classifications, they have studied the finishes, the back marks, the back types, the construction,” she said.

When people come, they’re amazed at the beauty of the button and all of the unusual uses — not to mention their value.

“The most expensive button that I ever sold was $48,000. It was a Civil War button,” Beck said.

But whatever the reason may be for coming to the button convention, Beck said this hobby is like having a family. They’re all brought together because of buttons.

The National Button Convention is taking place at the Red Lion Inn in Portland.

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