Section 23-3  Back Types (Page 1)

These pages illustrate visual examples of back types including shanks and other means of attachment.  Each example represents one of the back types listed in the glossary which can be accessed with link just below this paragraph. The glossary was compiled from a review of all the references listed at the bottom of this page. Except for the "Other Back Types" section on page 3, all the examples are based on the Blue Book including relevant invoked references (1995 National Button Bulletin, 1967 Classification of Black Glass Buttons, 2003 Pearl and Shell Buttons Classification, 2002 Classification of Clear and Colored Glass Buttons, 2005 Celluloid Buttons, and the NBS Synthetic Polymers Handbook (undated). Except for the Pig Tail Shank and the Thread Shank, all back types shown below are identified in the Blue Book and/or the May 1995 National Button Bulletin. The examples are grouped into the categories of (1) ceramic and china, (2) black and clear and colored glass, (3) metal and glass mounted in metal, (4) fabric, (5) other materials, (6) synthetic polymers, and (7) back types not specifically defined. To avoid excessive duplication, all possible back types are not shown for each material section. The red numbers in parenthesis identify the specific glossary definition being illustrated. See the glossary table for more information. Printable Back Types worksheets (with and without images) can be accessed with links at the bottom of this page.
Hover your mouse over the button images below to see the front of the button

Back types for Ceramic and China Buttons

Applied    (4)

Dresden   (18)  
Porcelain  (Meissen)

Hollow back   (24)  

Hollow back   (24)  

Inserted   (26)
China Whistle - Sew-through

Inserted   (26) (5)
China Bird cage  

Pin shank   (35)

Pin shank  (35)

Plate and Loop   (37) (29)
Gaiter bulls' eye

Self  (42)
Satsuma - older style

Self  (42)
 Satsuma - newer style

Self  (42)
Arita - Back mark

Sew-through - 2 hole  (43)
Glazed Ceramic

Sew-through - 3 hole  (43)

Sew-through - 2 hole  (43) (53)
Igloo-Blue Book describes as tunnel

 Undefined Arita
Mechanically applied

Back types for Glass Buttons

Antiquarian  (3) (46)
Actually a Staple per 95 NBB - Glass displaced by staple shank makes it an antiquarian back type

Applied  (4)
2 piece mirror

Box (2-way)  (6)

Box (4-way)  (6) (21)
(with thread groove)

Bridge  (8)

Claw  (13)
 Four petals

Claw  (13)
Five petals

Cone  (15)

Cone  (15)
Bimini metal back with back mark

Double  (17)
Black Glass
Screen embedded in glass

Hollow  (24) (13)
Claw - sometimes called Birdcage 

Hollow  (24)
Black Glass - Small plate   

Hollow   (24) Black Glass
Large plate & back mark

Hump  (25)
Victorian Glass  

Hump  (25) (13)
2 piece mirror - also claw shank

Hump  (25)

Hump   (25) (13)
Black Glass - 2-way - Claw

Key shank  (28) (38)
95 NBB also defines this as "Popper"

Key Shank  (28) (38)
Shown Exposed on broken button  

Key shank  (28) (38)
95 NBB also defines this as "Popper"

Loop   (29)
Screen back 

Pig tail  (34)
Defined in C&CG Handbook

Pin shank   (35)
Paste escutcheon

Pin shank   (35)
Brass escutcheon

Plate and Loop  (37) (29)

Plate and Loop  (37) (29)
Elongated - Waistcoat

Plate and Loop  (37) (29)

Plate and Loop  (37) (29)
Watch Crystal - Blue Book 7-6.7
Plate hidden by black adhesive

Rosette  (41)
With hump shank

Rosette   (41)
With metal loop shank

Self    (42)

Self   (42)
Cone shape

Self   (42)
Black Glass - Wedge Shape

Self Shank  (42)
Black Glass with thread grooves

Sew-through   (43) (56)

Sew-through - 2 hole  (43)
Metal back - back mark

Sew-through - 4 hole  (43)

Staple  (46) (57)
Same as wire shank

Swirlback  (49)

Thread Back  (50)
With metal rim

Thread Shank  (50)
Sewn resembling 18th Cent. cord

Tunnel    (53)
Hole passes through the body
No special projections

Wire   (57)
2-piece molded

Thanks to Lou Yeargain, Barbara Barrans, Gwen Niemisto, Gloria Badger, Pat Koehler, Kevin Kinne, and Judy Stopke who assisted in the development of this educational resource. These collaborators provided reviews, comments or other support including images or buttons for the examples shown. Potential labeling issues or suggested improvements should be directed to the Button Country team at Contact Us.

(1)  Worksheet compiled by Jeanne H. Talbert - date unknown
(2)  Dorothy Foster Brown - Button Parade (pages 264 - 267) - 1968, Lightner Publishing Corporation
(3)  Ruth Watson – Just Buttons (pages 589-597) - July, 1972.
(4)  National Button Society Blue Book - Official NBS Classification and Competition Guidelines
(5)  Button Basics - Jane Ford Adams - National Button Bulletin, May 1995 (Reprint of 1959 Adams article)
(6)  A Complete Classification - Clear and Colored Glass Buttons, Jane Ford Adams - National Button Society
(7)  Warren K. Tice - Dating Buttons, 2003, Warren K. Tice, Publisher
(8)  Guidelines for Collecting China Buttons - National Button Society - 1994
(9)  Classification of Black Glass Button - National Button Society - 1967
(10) Its All About Celluloid Buttons - Monica Walker
(11) National Button Society Section 9-A Synthetic Polymers Handbook (Howells, MacFarlane, Deal, Smith) - No Date
(12) Sally C. Luscomb - The Collector's Encyclopedia of Buttons, 6th edition - 2006, Schiffer Publishing Ltd.