I just recently learned about these. I am a sucker for anything quirky in history, particularly the Victorian era, so it tickles me pink to tell you about them. So back in the 19th century, fragrances were mostly oil-based. Personally, I am a fan of oil perfumes in modern times as well – they don’t have that nasty alcohol smell to them and are incredibly long-lasting. However, noble dames of the Victorian era were not pleased with one aspect of such fragrances: they could stain your clothes, and wouldn’t that be a bummer. So the solution was found, cute as a button:
Such buttons had a cloth base, such as velvet or flannel, something that would absorb and hold fragrances, and were ornamented with metal patterns, often floral.
Scent buttons were manufactured in the United States in the 1800s. They were also massively popular in European countries, particularly France and England. During the Civil War in America, ladies would send their loved ones off to war and give them their perfume buttons as romantic tokens or their affection. Some soldiers died with these in their pockets, while others lived to tell numerous stories about how it kept them going, how it kept them sane.
Today these antique perfume buttons are used in jewelry making: they make lovely bracelets and necklaces: