Last week Linda Hickey of the Rochester Button Club was invited to give a talk to residents in the town of Irondequoit on the history of buttons and why people love to collect them as a hobby.

Most everyone knows of at least one family member who has a jar or stash of buttons in their house. But how often do people think about where the button came from, or who wore the button? This everyday object is treated much like a worthless penny. But when one considers how long the button and other closures have been around, the vast quantities, and multitude of materials a button is created from, one starts to think about a button in a more appreciative way.

When Linda presents, it’s not a ‘death by PowerPoint’ slide presentation. Linda supplements her talks with her own personal collection of buttons, books and crafts that she displays on several tables making it easy for her to show real examples of the various types of buttons collectors love. She has everything from metal picture buttons to bone underwear buttons. And Linda encourages attendees to pick them up for a closer look.

Where a lot of collectors look for ‘pretty’ buttons, Linda likes buttons that she believes most people would consider ugly. She also prefers collecting more modern buttons. Despite what she likes to collect, she has a big selection of many types of antique, vintage and current day buttons on cards. Everything from calico buttons, military buttons, celluloid, Bakelite, glass of all colors, vegetable ivory, bone, horn, shell, and then all of the various metals – brass, silver, pewter… the types are endless. In her talk she shares what was popular during various centuries and what’s popular today.

At this session, the attendees expressed a new found appreciation for buttons, and all agreed it was a presentation worth hearing and a hobby worth considering.

If you are interested in having a button club member provide a similar demonstration about buttons, don’t hesitate to contact a club president in your area. The New York State Button Society Presidents are listed in this website under ” Our Clubs.”

 

This week I received an email from Gavin asking for some button research assistance:

“Hello my name is Gavin and I found a New York State seal button metal detecting. I’m not sure what period it is from and who would he wearing such button. I was wondering if you could help me out and do some research on it. I’m having a terribly hard time finding it online. The back mark says “superior quality.”  Thank you for your time. I look forward to hearing back from you.” 

New York State Seal Cuff Button
Button Back – “Superior Quality”

 

I shared Gavin’s email with the Google Group “ButtonBytes” and J. Fraizer provided an answer – mystery solved! 

 

“Your cuff button is a “New York City Seal” button from 1920’s and continued for some time. It would have been worn by uniformed city employees. Police and Fire Dept. had their own buttons. The “Superior Quality” backmark was used by all the major button manufacturers. Hope this helps. J. Frazier”

 

 

Meet Edith Krystan – 97 Years Young – A Member of the Rochester Button Club since 2010

One recent 96 degree evening I had the pleasure of interviewing Edith Krystan – aka my mother-in-law – for this button bio. As the ‘senior’ member of our club, Edith was chosen to be our first ‘buttion bio’.

Edith has been associated with buttons for longer than I have known her, in fact, even longer than I have been alive. For years and years (actually since the age of 6) she sewed and knitted everything from hats and scarves, to dresses, aprons, and totes – all adorned with buttons. Most of her handiwork would then be donated to the town for delivery to those less fortunate. Unfortunately, some good things come to an end as her arthritis has curtailed this endeavor.

One day my mother, Alta Doty and my wife, Kristine Doty (members of the Rochester club) introduced Edith to the amazing world of button collecting and the ‘unique’ members of the Rochester Button Club. And so her collecting adventures began…..noting how surprised she was to sell over $100 of buttons at her first meeting!

What does she enjoy collecting? Her current passion is for 3 holed buttons – proud that she has 3 so far, but we notice that she is also quick to check out buckles – any size, color or shape. Her favorite material to collect is shell / mother of pearl ….because light splits when it hits them like a prism. Her collection has been built from garage sales, other members, and sales at our area summer picnics…..never spending more than $2.00!

Ask her how she promotes her button hobby and she will tell you that she gives many away and repeatedly tries to get family members to look thru her ‘treasures’. So just what does a 97 year old do with her buttons? Some are sorted into plastic cups, some are sorted into her ‘button box’ drawers for use as a fastener or embellishment, some go onto cards for personal enjoyment, many get stored in mason jars for decorating around the house, and the rest are destined to be given away.

So, as Paul Harvey used to say, now you know the rest of the story…….

Prepared by Dale Doty