CRESTVIEW — That a jacket's fasteners could be miniature works of art probably doesn't strike the average person as he or she dresses for church.
But maybe a visit to the Crestview Public Library lobby display cases will make them think twice about the common button's artistry.
Valparaiso residents Don and Barb Lanier have been collecting buttons for 36 years. Their exhibit spans a wide range of subjects and vintages.
The buttonologists — "I didn't know there was such a word," reference librarian Sandra Dreaden said — display buttons ranging in subject matter from animal life to heraldic symbols.
Materials include buttons made of glass, gems, metals and locks of human hair, and buttons Barb Lanier made from pine straw.
There are clay buttons produced by American Indians, West German "moonglows" and Swiss livery buttons bearing noble families' crests.
Collectors by happenstance
The Laniers, who are members of the Florida and Texas state button societies and the National Button Society, began collecting buttons "by happenstance," Don said.
"We just wanted something to do when I retired," he said. "I'm not a golfer, I'm not into sports, I don't fish and I don't hunt and I don't chase women because Barb won't let me."
While the couple lived in San Antonio, they started buying jars of buttons at flea markets, thinking they'd separate them by material and color and create art projects.
Instead, a flea market vendor introduced them to the local button society's president, who invited them to a club meeting. Today, Don is the North Florida Button Club's president.
Among the button fanciers' cornucopia are two small, dark metal buttons bearing the United States seal. They are U.S. Army World War I button lockets that house a miniature photo of the soldier's sweetie.
"It's amazing what you can learn from a little tiny ornament that you can put on your clothes," Don Lanier said. "You can learn a lot about history from buttons."
Want to go?
Don and Barb Lanier's button collection exhibit is in the Crestview Public Library's lobby display cases through April. Residents interested in joining the North Florida Button Club may contact Don Lanier, firstname.lastname@example.org or 729-7594.