Many buttons can be found in 18th century artwork and clothing collections.
Some examples:

Death Head buttons:
               (Ladies' riding jacket)
               (Copley portraits 03.1033, 10.34, 31.211)
                 (James Madison by 
                                                                                                                         Chas. Willson Peale - scroll down & enlarge)
                (James Madison by Gilbert Stuart )

                        Breeches belonging to George Washington, Mt. Vernon Ladies Assn. collection 
(image not available)

                        Small buttons used to hold up Polonaise gown loops, and also on a Man's Banyan,
                         APVA/Mary Doering 2009 exhibition at Scotchtown, Beaverdam, VA  
(image not available)
Compere  (ladies' gowns with buttons on front). There are more than 20 extant gowns and jackets, including:
                (item 1978.85.1)                   
                                                                                        (Kyoto Costume Institute linen chintz day gown)

Brunswick/Pet en l'air  with buttons (ladies' travel jacket):

Some books about 18th Century buttons:

Bright, Mervyn. Buttony: the Dorset Heritage. Lytchett Minster, Dorset (UK): The Old Button Shop, 1971.
Chappell, Marian. "Dorset Buttons,"  The Countryman Cottage Life Book. Trowbridge (UK):David & Charles, 1974.
Fuss, Norman. "Death Head" Buttons: Their Use and Construction. Williamsburg, VA: Burnley & Trowbridge, 2005.
Johns, Thelma. Dorset Buttons: Handstitched in Dorset for Over 300 Years. UK: Natula Publications, 2012.
Nehring, Nancy. 50 Heirloom Buttons to Make. Newtown, Conn.: Taunton Press, 1996.

These are but a few of the items we have found while doing button research. In addition to the above, we have a research file of examples we have located in both art and clothing collections. Please contact us at if you want more information on the history and usage of any particular style of button available.

BLUE CAT BUTTONWORKS has received favorable mention in the following magazines:

                 The Tavern Horn,  On The Trail,  and Muzzle Blast.