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skyrocker1 | Posted in General Discussion on

Ornamental Sleeve Buttons Interesting reason for Ornamental Sleeve Buttons!

MMCM(SS) Greg Peterman USN Retired
The decorative bone buttons that are today sewn on many suit jackets, sports coats and blazers began as an effort by Lord Nelson to keep young midshipsmen and cabinboys from wiping their noses on their sleeves. In the days of sail, young boys, often as young as nine years old, would sign on sailing ships as cabinboys, usually becoming midshipmen as they got older. Many, particularly on their first voyages, would become homesick, tearfully tending to their duties in their fancy gentlemen’s uniform. That uniform had no pockets for a hankerchief, so the young boys would, like all young boys, wipe their noses on their sleeves. To break his cabinboys and midshipmen of this ungentlemanly habit, Lord Nelson had large brass buttons sewn on the sleeves of all midshipmen and cabinboy uniforms. The decorative value of the buttons were soon realized, and in short order, London tailors were adding decorative buttons to frocks, coats, and dinner jackets. Though the buttons have become less gaudy, the practice continues.
Found this interesting: Doc


  1. marijke | | #1

    Great story!

    Maybe I should put buttons on my kids' T-shirts so they won't use their shirts as napkins??? :-)


  2. Michelle | | #2

    I love this type of 'trivia' - where would begin looking for sources for more of this kind of information?


    1. skyrocker1 | | #4

      Shelly: I found some great Trivia books at our public library. I also

      subscribe to Leatherneck Magazine and a host of other Military organizations and publications. Some of the Trivia books in the Main

      Branch libraries cover a host of topics. When ever I come across one that covers the sewing field I will copy or condense this. I like passing this on to everyone just for its interest. Doc

  3. Barbaran8 | | #3

    Dinner knives have rounded points because Cardinal Richelieu did not like watching his guests pick their teeth with their knives after dinner, so he had all the points on his silver service rounded off, and it became the fashion...

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