*Lyonardo noses around in the cabinet of priceless Mathoms at the station in the middle of the night, searching for something by candle light. He pulls a small clay statue of a bog toad out from the top shelf. Chuckling, he sets it down along with the candle and then on his tip toes, reaches with both hands to the back of the upper shelf. There he finds a sizeable wooden box, that of a proper picnic basket or very thorough lure & tackle box, and carefully removes it. Then carries the find over to the floor in front of the fireplace with considerable effort. Wearing a merry grin, he sits down to admire it, the worn bronze hinges, the weathered marks and dings. The top feels smooth and creaks briefly as he lifts it open, gently letting it touch the warm stone floor.  Inside, hundreds of little treasures flicker in the fire light.*


Ye will notice buttons appearin' on the roster next to folk's names, maybe even ye's own!  That's cause, carryin' on what Inspector Bilcome started, I been paintin' little replica's o' the real buttons an' tackin' em up there - so we can keep straight who's got what buttons holdin' theys jackets, waistcoats, packs, an' blouses together.


Here's a record o' some o' these buttons an' what theys for, maybe even some o' where they come from - from what's remembered anyway.  More'll be added all the time as we catalogue 'em, so keep ye's eye out!  Ye might even see some awarded iffen ye come to inspections.




Within the box are many handfuls of glorious buttons. Some are tied together by a thread in some prior attempt to organize them. Others scattered about are still attached to some piece of cloth or square of leather. But most are loose and give the impression of a fortune in coins and jewels when first gazed upon, though their true value is far greater than any such collection of currency.


 Bounder Button. Among the most coveted and aged buttons. These old brown buttons are given when a slug squasher achieves full bounder status, something most never do! They are made of wood from a kind of Oak that grows in the foothills of the Misty Mountains, and came with Hobbits from there, long ago before the Shire was even settled.  Most have a kind of warm sheen on them from hundreds of years of handling. Although the most numerous, there are still only so many left in the box, but old Bounders periodically retire and replenish them.


  Bronze Bounder Button (1st anniversary) These stout buttons are newly smelted with good Shire copper and tin celebrating 1 year of service as a Bounder. Bounders wearing these may be entrusted to greater responsibilities, such as managing the munitions chest or even the larder!


 Steel Bounder Button (2nd anniversary). Sometimes mistaken for silver, these impregnable bottons are lovingly forged of hard steel and are given only to the most veteran Bounders. They may be stationed at the most important outposts and watch offices. Lads and lasses wearing these are respected as much, maybe even more, than any Shirriff! 


 Brandywood button. Handsome buttons made of Yew from the Brandywood. Stout Buckland Bounders use them for everything from securing their hauberks to buttoning up goblin's lips! First given for service in the lands under the shade of the Brandywood, especially 'round Buckland and Oatbarton these are now given for exemplary service anywhere in or out of the bounds, assisting other Bounders. Hob Hayward (affectionately known to some Bounders as "Hoob"), Shirriff of Buckland Gate, has a great column of these on his coat!


 Watcher Button. A wooden button made of gray ash from Chetwood. As bounder Daffodilia said "it's a nice wood though the grain is a bit rough, so they often tumble wash 'em in sand ta' smooth 'em down a bit so's they don't get splinters." They have a red edge and two chevrons etched in and then painted green to match the Watchers of Bree hauberks. The paint often gets worn down next to nothing for even though these buttons are made new they see much wear around Breeland - specifically worn by the Hobbits that serve in Bree, Combe and Staddle.  Of course Bounders with dedicated service about any parts of Breeland which comes under the Shire's influence might be seen wearing these too - those who toil along the Great East Road, The Old Forest, The Barrow downs are sometimes given these buttons. 


 Walnut Cookery Button. Somehow carved from a Walnut shell, these buttons often have a lingering, nutty smell. Quite pleasant! They are given to the finest Bounder cooks and pantry chefs for their fine and delicious work. Some folks think cooking and baking with walnuts is fancy, perhaps it is, but the greatest gastronomist also knows how to nuture the simplest ingredients, like a humble nut, into the most nourishing meals.


 The Silver Lute. This is awarded for outstanding achievement in balladry and song to the merriest of troubadours, minstrels and composers. It is made of iron with the likeness of a lute wrought in fine silver.


 "Chicken Tender." These buttons are made from spotted eggshell, where the sides have been carefully cut and hardened by some process known only to farmer Sandson, Rue Goodbody and possibly, Daffodilia Wildfeet. Awarded for exemplary service on Sandson's farm (and sometimes at the cook fires), often during Chicken month.


[Neeker shell button]


 Driftwood Toggle. A surprisingly sturdy toggle whittled from Shire driftwood by Shire-folk. (I dunno what this is given for yet, but i suspect it has to do with fishin').


  Bounder-Friend. A most prestigious button given to true friends and allies beloved of the Bounders. Made of black ash, the carving is of a blossom, to symbolize the promise of a great friendship.


~Rare Buttons~


Nestled amongst the many buttons in the box are a few small leather pouches, some very old, others still supple, perhaps even placed within quite recently.  Each contains a rare type of button that is not often awarded. Some may be recently crafted but considered to be precious gifts from the folk who made them. Others are entirely ancient creations of which only a few remain.


  Clasp of the Reputable (Feller/Lass). A cloak clasp for someone of great esteem and reputation, thought of as kindred with the Bounder's regardless of where they come from. They are given only to the most highly respected folks be they Bounders or no (the only other button given to non-bounders is the Bounder-Friend button). It is made of two buttons joined by a stout chain to hold clasp one's cloak or scarf or even as buttons on their double breasted suit. It's made of Shire silver from the cliffs and banks which flank the Brandywine.


 Voluntary Assistant Chief Button. An old gold button worn by Station officers and Assistant Chiefs.  They vary in value, depending on how banged up they are, but most are worth their weight in buttons!


 Glass Button of Merit. A Bauble made by the glass blowers of Dwaling, proof that beautiful things can be made even in the most horrid circumstances. Their occupation is a dangerous one these days and these magnificent little marvels work are symbols of the kind of exceptional qualities inherent in the rare Bounder who wears them. 


   Bounder Leadership Button. Ancient Bounder Green button, so ancient it long ago faded to a minty color.  Given to Bounder's who exhibit outstanding qualities of leadership, especially in heading up expeditions and fellowships. A Bounder wearing such a button is skilled with both blade and book, a learned Hobbit who forges a path for others to follow.


   Button of Bravery. An ancient faded red, maybe pinkish, button with the star of the Free People's carved onto it. Given for repeated bravery in the face of terrible odds. A Hobbit wearing such a button is not to be trifled with... unless he or she insists that is!


[Carved Auroch's horn]


[Ivory of Oliphaunt Button]


~One of a kind Buttons~


Inside the box's lid there is a tiny bronze pin one would only notice if closely inspecting the back inner lip of the lid while it is open, and in good light. Removing it takes some doing, but doing so unlocks a false top that conceals a hidden compartment. Inside is an envelope, and inside that is a soft cloth, folded several times. Inside the cloth are a handful of treasured buttons that have no equal.


   Shiny Green Shire Button. A one of a kind button, said to have belonged to Bullroarer himself! Currently worn by 4th Shirriff Rumache Beanfeast.


 Voluntary Successor to the Chief Button. A more ornate and one of a kind button similar to the V.A.C. buttons but worn by the currently appointed successor. I hope someone can figure out where it came from!....  Though older than the hills, it was only first given it's current role by Chief Meadowlarke to V.A.C. Aeyrfast Thornburrow, Warden of Willowbottom.  It has since passed to Daffodilia Wildfeet of Staddle, it's second owner.


 Shirriff's Button. An antique burgundy button worn only by the Bounder Chief. It once fastened the satchel of one, Bucca of the Marish, First Thain of the Shire sometime after he was made Thain in the year 1979 of this, the third age. Probably kept all his most important papers in that satchel. Given by Shirriff Rumache Beanfest to, and currently worn by, Meadowlarke Sweetweed, Chief. 


 Polished Chestnut Button. This curious button made from what was once the shell of a very savory nut has a pleasant shine to it's naturally marbled surface. Long ago it adorned a waistcoat belonging to Marcho and dates to the founding of the Shire. It is the only one that remains...


 Ancient Jade Button. Originally from the Misty Mountains, this ancient button came with the first Hobbit Settlers to the Shire. It has a dull, time worn sheen, but when in direct sunlight seems to glow from within, exposing intricate etchings that otherwise go unseen....  Given by Chief Meadowlarke to, and currently worn by, Lyonardo.


 Button of the Hundredaire. A small ancient button, worn and chipped away over a thousand years - at times intentionally - it is made of solid platinum, you see. Once was the property of a respectable merchant, who before leaving the Misty Mountains to take his family to the Shire, had this bit of wealth melted down into a button he could wear, so it was always with him and no one was the wiser. In times of great need, he would shave off a tidbit to provide for his family, some say even for strangers. You can see a few of the buds of the Tree are even lopped off. Still, it is worth nearly 100 gold pieces. Worn by Chief Meadowlarke Sweetweed, Hundredaire and merchant of Buckland.


[Whittled Twig]