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Linked Buttons-Today most people would call linked buttons “cufflinks,” but that is a term that was not used in 18th century. In the 17th and 18th century, these accessories were usually called “sleeve buttons” or “sleeve links,” and they were worn to close shirt sleeves for men, and shift sleeves for women. Linked buttons of the 18th century were worn by adults and children of all classes, and they were part of everyday dress, not just for special occasions. They were practical accessories because they were totally removable, and that was important for garments like shirts and shifts which required regular laundering. Images of linked buttons from Sleeve Links, Date: ca. 1711-1754, Site Name: Smith’s St. Leonard, Site Number: 18CV91/ Lots 257 (clear set), 140 (blue), and 173 (clear single). The buttons shown here represent a popular and distinctive sleeve button style from the first half of the 18th century, so it is possible to identify this type of button as a sleeve  button even if the link is no longer present. Each button has a copper alloy setting that is slightly conical in shape, and a faceted glass inset is placed in the setting to mimic the look of a jewel. Sometimes a reflective foil is placed behind the glass inset to catch the light and make the glass jewel shine. While these buttons seem like fancy accessories, they were relatively inexpensive because they were so small. In the 18th century most items were valued based on the material they were made of, and it did not take much metal and glass to make buttons that were only about 1 cm or 0.5 in wide. All of these linked buttons were excavated at Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum’s public archaeology site, the Smith’s St. Leonard Site, in Calvert County, Maryland. JPPM has invited the public to join in excavating the site every May and June since 2002, giving participants the opportunity to find all kinds of intriguing artifacts from the 18th century. Smith’s St. Leonard was a large tobacco plantation founded by Richard Smith Jr. and his family, but most of the people who lived there were enslaved laborers, and it is possible that these buttons were worn by the slaves, not the plantation owners. The pair of buttons with colorless insets was recovered in the stable, the single button with the blue inset was found in the detached kitchen, and the single button with the colorless inset was recovered from a slave quarter. All of these areas would have been frequented by slaves more than by the plantation owners. It is hard to know what that means, though. It may mean that the Smiths cared about the appearance of slaves like the groom and the cook, so they bought stylish but inexpensive links for them. It is also possible that enslaved individuals used money from their own entrepreneurial endeavors, such as garden plots worked in their free time, to purchase such personal items. Or it could be that the buttons belonged to the Smith family, but ended up around the landscape because of careless handling as shirts and shifts were sent to the laundry before the links were removed. Unfortunately, archaeology can only tell us where the linked buttons ended up, not who used them before they got there. Illustration of Eighteenth-century women’s shifts (left) and men’s shirts (above) usually did not have buttons sewn on to cuffs. Instead, they had button holes to allow the attachment of linked buttons (see arrows). Men’s shirts could also fasten at the neck with linked buttons, though this  was not visible if men wore stocks or cravats at the neck. Image of a painting showing a man wearing linked buttons on his sleeve with a closeup showing the detail. Jean-Siméon Chardin’s ca. 1736-1737 painting The House of Cards shows how linked buttons were worn on a young man’s shirt cuff (detail). Painting from The National Gallery:  http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/jean-simeon-chardin-the-house-of-cards.