Serious foreign collectors also turned their backs on export works as "crude, chalky pâte, covered with coarsely fissured glaze, in which more often than otherwise an excess of feldspar has produced discoloured deposits that suggest the reverse of technical skill." Most of these artists set up etsuke workshops around 1880, coinciding with the export slump.Although they did export, stylistically their pieces demonstrated a wish to return to tradition.The intense popularity of Satsuma ware outside Japan in the late nineteenth century resulted in an increase in production coupled with a decrease in quality.Collectors sought older, more refined pieces of what they erroneously referred to as early Satsuma.The response of critics and collectors to mass-produced Satsuma ware was and is overwhelmingly negative.According to art historian Gisela Jahn, "in no other style of ceramics did the Japanese go to such extremes in attempting to appeal to Western tastes, and nowhere else were the detrimental effects of mass production more clearly evident".
During the Edo period, the Japanese clothing culture was still based on kimono, so the concept of a “button” wasn’t yet in existence.Eager to tap into the burgeoning foreign market, producers adapted the nishikide Satsuma model.The resulting export style demonstrated an aesthetic thought to reflect foreign tastes.To assist this fundraising, Satsuma buttons were brought into production.
Made primarily for export, together with kimono these buttons came to receive considerable attention worldwide as representative of Japanese craft.
Items were covered with the millefleur-like 'flower-packed' Pieces continued to feature floral and bird designs, but religious, mythological, landscape and genre scenes also increased.