It’s very difficult to date a Dorset Button exactly. All I can say is that there are four different types of Dorset Buttons with many variations within each type.
1. The first buttons were made with sheep’s horn, fabric and thread (High Tops and Dorset Knobs)
2. Some used just fabric and thread (Birdseyes and Mites)
Wire rings were introduced in the 1730s and two further types of buttons were added to the range:
3. Those were made with wire, fabric and thread (Singletons)
4. The Dorset thread button used wire and thread (Dorset Cartwheel and Blandford Crosswheel)
The earliest example of buttons worked on a wire rings that I have seen on an item of clothing is in the collection at the Fashion Museum, Bath. A women’s gown dated 1730-39 which has Dorset Cartwheel buttons worked on wire rings on each sleeve. I have also seen Dorset Knob buttons used as decoration on a child’s dress dated 1861-70 in the collection held at the Museum of London. Dorset Singleton Buttons, also worked on a wire ring, were also used on many items of clothing.
I hope this helps
Visit the Cygnet Gallery, Shaftesbury, for a selection of gifts and kits featuring Dorset Buttons.