Help identify this mystery button!
May 27, 2015 10:44 AM   Subscribe

What is this mystery, military-esque metal button I found in Southport, North Carolina?

I was using my metal detector in a yard in Southport, NC when I found this button.

Here is the front of the button.

Here is the back of the button.

[Not the best image quality ever, but I believe you can see enough].

The front has an eagle with wings outstretched on top of an anchor. There are two branches underneath the anchor.

The back reads: SCOVILL MF'G CO on top and WATERBURY, CT on the bottom.

Any help would be appreciated! I've gone through a ton of old military button sites and albums and have seen a lot that look similar, but none identical.

Unfortunately I don't know the history of the area very well so I can't help narrow down specific dates. This is about one mile inland from Cape Fear in Southport.

I will upload better quality photos if these aren't high enough resolution.

Thank you!
posted by amicamentis to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
For what it's worth, Scovill has been around forever.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:56 AM on May 27, 2015

Looks a lot like a US Coast Guard button, e.g.: like this or like these (scroll down or search for "Coast Guard").
posted by mhum at 10:57 AM on May 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

Could it just be from a coat or a blazer? I.e., not necessarily military-specific? There are an awful lot of vintage- and patriotic-looking buttons on off-the-rack coats these days.
posted by resurrexit at 11:14 AM on May 27, 2015

Sorry to be late getting to you, but I needed to dig out my father's US Navy uniform coats.....

And the result is interesting: my father retired in 1978, so the coats I've checked were from the 1970s. The front of his brass (definitely US Navy) buttons is an eagle, but the wings aren't spread so wide, so parallel, as on your button. This eagle is also larger than yours; it's clutching a large anchor in both claws, with the top of that anchor towards the left side. There are three cannon balls below that, and thirteen tiny raised stars just inside the rim. Unlike yours, ours has no laurel wreath. The entire background is tiny incised parallel lines from top to bottom.

Here's the kicker: the back. There's a metal loop like your button, surrounded by the words "Waterbury Button Co." across the top. There's a tiny incised star on each side, and "Conn." at the bottom.

My guess is, you probably have some earlier version of my button, and perhaps Scovill changed it's name.
posted by easily confused at 4:32 PM on May 28, 2015

easily confused: "My guess is, you probably have some earlier version of my button"

I'm going to have to disagree here. The rope border, laurels, vertical anchor, and outstretched eagle wings suggest pretty strongly (to me, at least) that this is a US Coast Guard and not a US Navy button. In fact, this article lays out these key differences:
Coast Guard gilt buttons centered their design on a perpendicular anchor, with a rope like inner-rim. The naval button consisted of an eagle, facing Dexter over a horizontal anchor.
posted by mhum at 12:15 PM on May 29, 2015

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