The idea of manufacturing buttons on an industrial scale was German in origin, and more specifically from the area around Hamburg. It was the result of the discovery of a natural raw material, the corozo, which because of its characteristics could be easily processed and above all dyed a wide range of colours. The name of “corozo” was applied to the seeds of certain palms that flourish in South America. The seeds are roughly the size and shape of an egg, and once they have been shelled and left to dry they take on a brilliant white colour and are remarkably compact, hence their nickname of “vegetable ivory”. The corozo reached the European market almost by accident. It was used as ballast on ships returning from North and South America to the port of Hamburg, and it is likely that its use as a raw material for manufacturing buttons was due to the innovative spirit of some German ship-owner.