Superb Haitian Military Button, c1811-1820; Rare find for Northeast

lenmac65

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I spent a few hours this week detecting around a cellar hole dating back to at least the 1850s. My best find was this Haitian Military Button, also known as a Phoenix Button. These buttons were designed for use on Haitian military uniforms during the 1811-1820 reign of Henry Christophe, and depicts the phoenix bird rising from flames, which was the image from his personal coat of arms. The button has the French phrase "Je Renais de mes Cendres" around the rim, which roughly translates to "I rise from my ashes." The number reflects the regiment. From what I have read, by the time the buttons had been ordered, manufactured in England, and received in Haiti, Christophe was dead. (Christophe was a brutal general who became king. He committed suicide in 1820. His portrait is below.) Some researchers believe that Nathaniel Wyeth purchased the buttons for trading purposes in the Columbia River Region, which explains their presence in the United States. While these buttons are apparently sometimes found in the west coast region, they are pretty rare in the east. How this one ended up in my area, I can only imagine. I do know I am grateful for finding it, and in such great condition.

I also found two other buttons, one of which I think is tombac, as it is silver/gray and has no corrosion. I also recovered a locket with an interesting design on the front, which I have not yet opened. Lastly, I found an oval piece that looks very similar to a bridle rosette. It still has some twine or cord attached to it. If anyone has any thoughts about the locket and the oval piece, I would love to hear them.

Thanks for checking out my post. Happy hunting and good luck out there.
 

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Upvote 34

Lenrac2

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Awesome finds! Amazing how stuff got around back then!
 

pepperj

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Nice assortment of finds.
Now that's a rare find for the eastern regions for sure. It makes one wonder if it was through trade, or just a person took the right fork in the road and went travelling/or went back home.
 

JeffInMass

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Amazing find neighbor- quite the state we get to hunt isn't it??
 

Silvermonkey

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Well...that's a very unusual find!. What a beautiful button. Thanks for the post. Nice history lesson.
 
OP
lenmac65

lenmac65

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Nice assortment of finds.
Now that's a rare find for the eastern regions for sure. It makes one wonder if it was through trade, or just a person took the right fork in the road and went travelling/or went back home.

Thanks! It is a mystery for sure. I am going to try to research who might have owned the property in the early to mid-1800s, but I doubt I will get anywhere with it. It sure was fun finding such an unusual item.
 
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lenmac65

lenmac65

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Amazing find neighbor- quite the state we get to hunt isn't it??

Thanks! I agree. It is nice having a chance at some older stuff, that’s for sure.
 
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lenmac65

lenmac65

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Well...that's a very unusual find!. What a beautiful button. Thanks for the post. Nice history lesson.

Thanks! It is an unusual and unexpected find. I had never seen one before, and thought the history of it was interesting enough to share. Good luck out there; you never know what you’ll find next.
 

unclemac

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yep, those are the holy grail of buttons out here for sure... nice score.
 

DCMatt

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That's a rare score! I've seen a few of these posted on T-net over the years. Here's a thread from a decade ago with good info about them:

http://www.treasurenet.com/forums/t...enix-buttons-plus-more-buttons-all-undug.html

I spent a few hours this week detecting around a cellar hole dating back to at least the 1850s. My best find was this Haitian Military Button, also known as a Phoenix Button. These buttons were designed for use on Haitian military uniforms during the 1811-1820 reign of Henry Christophe, and depicts the phoenix bird rising from flames, which was the image from his personal coat of arms. The button has the French phrase "Je Renais de mes Cendres" around the rim, which roughly translates to "I rise from my ashes." The number reflects the regiment. From what I have read, by the time the buttons had been ordered, manufactured in England, and received in Haiti, Christophe was dead. (Christophe was a brutal general who became king. He committed suicide in 1820. His portrait is below.) Some researchers believe that Nathaniel Wyeth purchased the buttons for trading purposes in the Columbia River Region, which explains their presence in the United States. While these buttons are apparently sometimes found in the west coast region, they are pretty rare in the east. How this one ended up in my area, I can only imagine. I do know I am grateful for finding it, and in such great condition.

I also found two other buttons, one of which I think is tombac, as it is silver/gray and has no corrosion. I also recovered a locket with an interesting design on the front, which I have not yet opened. Lastly, I found an oval piece that looks very similar to a bridle rosette. It still has some twine or cord attached to it. If anyone has any thoughts about the locket and the oval piece, I would love to hear them.

Thanks for checking out my post. Happy hunting and good luck out there.
 

CRUSADER

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Rarity & condition - great combo!
 
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lenmac65

lenmac65

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DC Matt … Thanks for the comment and info. Some of the detail you provided I saw when doing research, while some is new to me. Never expected Haitian military in my area.
 
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lenmac65

lenmac65

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Rarity & condition - great combo!
Thanks! I have never found a brass button that old in that great of shape. I have seen these posted, but not often or in this condition, at least dug. Hoping for more unusual finds there.
 

azdave

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Dec 12, 2014
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In 2014, I found a No. 14 Phoenix button near Owl Head Buttes, AZ.

If I recall correctly.....Tom in CA, a well known member here, was interested in tracking where they had been found across the country.... so I sent him a message about it.
I also recall seeing a list that documented where they have popped up.
Very interesting history for sure!
 

Coinstar magnet

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Would love to see inside that locket! Very nice assortment of finds. Congratulations!
 

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