Originally commissioned by King Christophe I of Haiti, these buttons were designed for the uniforms of Haitian troops in the early 19th century. This particular button is representative of the first three different button designs, determined by its size and incorporated art style. The significance of the phoenix, within this context, refers to Christophe’s continued employment of this motif in his personal and military affairs.
Following the death of their benefactor, Christophe I, the unused phoenix buttons next found themselves traded across the globe, with some landing along the west coast of North America. Eventually, the buttons became integrated in Native American trade throughout California and the Pacific Northwest.
For further reading:
Sprague, R. (1998). The literature and locations of the phoenix button. Historical Archaeology, 32(2), 56-77.
Strong, E. (1975). The enigma of the Phoenix button. Historical Archaeology, 9(1), 74-80.