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This article is about the clothing tool. For the American football run pattern "Button hook", see Curl (route).
Buttonhook from Ziefle & Nissle, Fine Shoes, Ann Arbor, Michigan.
A silver handled Art Nouveau buttonhook

A buttonhook is a tool used to facilitate the closing of shoes, gloves or other apparel that uses buttons as fasteners.

It consists of a hook fixed to a handle which may be simple or decorative as part of a dresser set or chatelaine. Sometimes they were given away as promotions with product advertising on the handle.

To use, the hook end is inserted through the buttonhole to capture the button by the shank and draw it through the opening.[1]


Although the buttonhook may have been known earlier, it is ascribed to Elias Howe, who patented the idea back in 1851, but never commercialised it. Whitcomb Judson, over 40 year later took a similar the idea to the market. His patent was called "Clasp Locker" and was originally thought for shoes. As the hooks could be made of various materials, they quickly spread among all social classes.[2]

Buttonhooks on display in Bedford Museum[edit]


  1. ^ Johnson, Eleanor. Fashion Accessories. U.K.:Shire Publications, 1980, p.7, ISBN 0-85263-530-3
  2. ^ "The Buttonhook Society". Retrieved 19 September 2016. 

External links[edit]