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Horses Of Course

~Horses, Of Course~
 The Victorian era, a period of varied and plentiful button production, was also well populated with horses. Not only were they important for transportation, but also figured heavily in social and sporting events of the time. Victorians loved their horses and so the collector’’s heart can be well satisfied with an abundant array of Equine related buttons. There are so many, that one can easily include nice groupings in specialized sub-categories.

There is no doubt that horse played a key part in the development of civilization. It seems every aspect of this can be found depicted on buttons. From pictograph cave drawing illustrations and horse drawn chariots of the Greeks to warrior horses clad in mail, jousting horses from the age of chivalry and the later light cavalry.

Even the family’s pet pony, faithful Dobbin, was an important part of Victorian life. So, many of the scenes on horse buttons are fondly named. Button collectors tend to name buttons for easy reference to each other. A few to mention are; "All Saddled Up," "Old Dobbin," "Taking A Fence," "Rarin To Go," and "Pharaoh’’s Horses". This last is easily recognizable, as they are also found in printed illustrations. In fact, a good number of pictorial buttons were originally scenes from paintings or books.

More contemporary scenes portray travel and the carriages for social events. The Carriage Era began in Europe in the seventeenth century, reached it’s peak in the second half of the nineteenth century and came rapidly to a close with the invention of the automobile in the first decades of the twentieth century. Because of the widespread use of horse drawn vehicles for personal and public transportation, one may find a variety of vehicle types illustrated.

Games and sport are another sub-category. Racing scenes abound. Both Steeplechase and Flat racing. Fewer are those with Sulky Cart racers shown. The other highly portrayed sport is Fox Hunting. Ladies taking a fence riding sidesaddle are pictured in a number of variations. The pastime of chasing the fox has inspired enough buttons that one could devote a collection specifically to the subject. For games, look for buttons involving Polo.

Breeds of horses may also be distinctly noted. The Arabian with his curved, dished face and dainty nose. The heavy Draft horse. The fine boned Thoroughbred. The chunky Quarter Horse. Also, though not quite so plentiful, the relations of the horse, are fun to include. The donkey, mule and zebra can also be found represented on buttons.

On other related buttons, Horseshoe pictorials and realistics are well-provided and seen in numerous variations. They often include the bottom of the horses foot, showing the 'frog' (the V shaped part). A bit of trivia about the horseshoe button. One can tell a right front foot from a left, because there are often 4 nails on one side and 3 on the other. The greater number is always on the outside. This was an added precaution with carriage horses to keep from losing the shoe. 

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