Union Uniforms and Insignia of the Civil War

Button Backmarks

W. H. Horstmann & Sons Phi Waterbury Button Co.
rmdc type dm type
1850's 1860-1870

The rear of most buttons display the name of the manufacturer or retail outfitter. The dies used to stamp these in time wore out and were replaced. The sometimes subtle differences in these backmark dies allow dating of buttons with some accuracy. Many of the common buttons of the Civil War continued in use through the remainder of the 19th Century. The backmarks are important in distinguishing Civil War from Post-Civil War buttons. The above backmarks are examples of those of two firms: W. H. Horstmann of Philadelphia and the Waterbury Button Company of Waterbury, Connecticut. Horstmann did not manufacture buttons, but was a large military outfitter. The Scovill Manufacturing Company of Waterbury, Connecticut manufactured many of Horstmann's buttons. This button mark is what is called a rmdc (raised mark in a depressed channel) type. This style of marking was rarely used after the Civil War and can generally be accepted as an indication that the button is Civil War period or earlier. The second button was made by the Waterbury Button Company, one of the major manufacturers of buttons in the U.S. It is of the dm (depressed mark) type. This style of marking is the most common and was used in all periods. There are a few other styles of marking buttons, but these two are the most commonly encountered. For more on back marks see McGuinn and Bazelon's American Military Button Makers and Dealers; Their Backmarks and Dates.

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