COLLECTION: Costume Accessories

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Continental Army Officer's Thirteen-bars Button

ca. 1780
Origin: Great Britain (?)
Diameter: 22 mm
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 2005-89
Button bearing thirteen bars united by a common encircling border.
Label:Worn by some officers during the Revolutionary War was a button design bearing thirteen stripes (or bars) united by a common edge. This was a visual metaphor for the union of the Thirteen Colonies, and was similar to Ben Franklins's 13 linked rings motif. The appealing design of this button reappeared in 1785 on the famous "Bar" copper coin, and was mentioned in the New Jersey Gazette of November 12 of that year;

"A new and curious kind of coppers have lately made their appearance in New York. The novelty and bright gloss of which keeps them in circulation. These coppers are in fact similar to Continental buttons without eyes; on the one side are thirteen stripes and on the other U.S.A., as was usual on the soldiers buttons."