The Half Moon Button Club is excited to resume meetings and activities again! Some recent highlights include these two fabulous display cases that Lea and Sherry filled with buttons to showcase the hobby of button collecting at the Guilderland Library for the month of November.


Display Case by Lea  Mastrianni


Display Case by Sherry Roach


The Half Moon “Craft Coalition” also started back up at the senior day program that had been temporarily paused. One of the recent crafts was making button bracelets.


In-person button club meetings are finally starting up again! Norma Brown shared that the NYS Genesee Club met on March 31 at the Holland Land Company (museum) in Batavia NY. President Amy Burgess presided over the meeting. This was our first meeting for the new year. Our hostess and helper, Jennifer Covert, and her son Matthew (on the left in the photo) gave a program on “Venery.” We were surprised and learned so much along with great button examples.

A Tale of Two Libraries

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was…”
Charles Dickens

The Easter season of 2021 and the pandemic were escalating with new strains of the virus being discovered. Here in New York, the restrictions were not as severe as they were a year ago, but safety measures still had to be followed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Chief among them was the wearing of face masks. Many people had gotten the Covid 19 vaccine, but there were still many who had not. Store owners were fearful of being robbed with everyone wearing masks and carrying canvas bags to put their purchases in. The world was a “different” place.
My name is Anne Coonan and I am the grandmother of twelve-year-old Jaydee Danis. Jaydee is short for Jacqueline Deandra, but Jaydee likes to use just the initials J.D. since she thinks it sounds more like what a private investigator would use. Two years ago, she solved the crime of my stolen kojima art buttons and now she thinks she is Flavia de Luce, the young heroine of the Alan Brady mysteries. Now, let me tell you about another mystery she solved.
It was three days before Easter and Jaydee came to my house to spend the day.
“Jaydee, what do you want to do today?”
“Can we go to the library? There is a book, my teacher told us about, that I would like to read over the spring vacation.”
“Sure, we can go as soon as I air the dogs. “What’s the book?”
“Children of Blood and Bone.”
“Sounds gruesome, but if your teacher recommended it, I guess it’s all right. Jaydee, what’s it about?”
“It is a fantasy set in West Africa. The author is black and was inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement.”
“Who wrote it?”
“The author has a weird name and I can’t remember it.”
“Well, you can look it up by the title.”
We later went to the East Greenbush Community Library. After parking in a handicapped spot, we started to get out of the car.
“Gram, you forgot your mask.”
“So, I did, Jaydee. I am not against wearing it; I just forget to put it on half the time.”
Once inside, Jaydee went to find the book, but I decided to talk to my friend Mary Ann who works at the library and was checking out books. Mary Ann and I went to Russell Sage together. She was an elementary education major and I went into nursing. Our health was the topic of the day.
Jaydee came to the desk. “The book isn’t on the shelf. I’m so disappointed.”
Mary Ann asked what book she was looking for. Jaydee told her “Children of Blood and Bone.”
“Oh, by Tomi Adeyemi. That is a very popular book. We can’t seem to keep it on the shelf. Let me see if it is available somewhere else.”
Mary Ann looked on her computer for interlibrary loan. “There is a copy at the Troy Public Library. I can request it for you, but it will take a couple days to get here, especially with Easter being this Sunday.”
You could see the disappointment on Jaydee’s face.
“Why don’t we just go down to the library now and get it,” I offered. “That used to be my library as a kid and I would love to show it to you.”
“Great! You are the best grandmother. Let’s go.”
Mary Ann informed us that we could not just show up at the Troy Public Library due to the pandemic. “You have to call and make an appointment. Why don’t you call and make one. Do you have a cell phone?” I said I did.
Mary Ann retrieved the phone number off the computer and wrote it on a slip of paper for me. We said our goodbyes and left the library. I called the library when we got outside. The librarian said that Jaydee and I could enter the library in a half-hour, so we hurried off.
I parked the car across the street kitty-corner from the library in a handicapped spot. We got out and this time I didn’t forget my mask. Jaydee failed to cross the street with me and headed for the Russell Sage College Library.
“Jaydee, this way. That is the Sage library. The Troy Library is that white building across the street.”
“Oh sorry, Gram.”
We crossed Second Avenue in front of Ackerman Hall, the nursing building, and took a left. I told Jaydee that the nursing building was built while I was a student.
“Gee, it doesn’t look that old a building,” was her comment.
Before I could reply, I was struck from behind and I fell. My canvas bag was ripped from my arm by a man wearing dark clothes. Jaydee screamed. Another man gave chase but was unable to catch him. He came back to where I was sitting and asked if he could help me up. A third man, a security guard from the college, also came along and called 911 to summon the Troy police. I told them that I was all right, but I wanted to sit a minute. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Jaydee bend over and pick up something but I wasn’t really interested in what it was.
The two men stayed with Jaydee and me. The man who gave chase helped me onto a bench in the small garden on top of the Ferry Street tunnel. I thanked him for his help and asked him his name and where he lived. He told me his name was Chris, but he was homeless. He said he had worked as a waiter in the restaurant across from Monument Square on the corner of Second Avenue and Broadway before the pandemic, but it went out of business last year after the pandemic started. I asked if he was a veteran and he said he was. At that point, the police came and interviewed us. The policeman told us his name was Officer Dunbar and he asked what was stolen.
I told him my dollar store green bag was snatched.
“What was in it, Ma’am?”
“Nothing important. I had a small notebook, a pen and some Easter cards I was going to mail.”
“That’s all? No wallet?”
“No. I have my wallet in my coat pocket,” I told him.
“Well, that’s good. Canceling credit cards is a pain, let me tell you! What did the man look like?”
“It happened so fast, officer, I did not get a look at the man.”
Chris told the officer, “He had on a mask, a dark coat, and a hoodie under the coat. He ran so fast, I am sure he could not have been very old, probably a teenager.”
The Sage security guard agreed but since he was closer to First Street when the incident happened, he could not supply any more information.
The policemen took all our names and addresses except Chris’s, telling us he would be in touch if he got any new information.
“Gram, do you want to go home?”
“No, Jaydee. I am fine. Let’s go get that book you want. The librarian is expecting us and it is time for our appointment.”
Jaydee got the Children of Blood and Bone and then we headed for home. While we were in the car, she showed me a button she found on the street by the library.
“Gram, is this a button? I found it on the street while we were waiting for the police to come.”
“It’s a toggle button.”
“That’s a weird name.”
“It is a coat button, used on car coats.”
“There are coats for cars? I have never seen one,” she grinned.
“It is an everyday coat and was made to wear in a car, silly.”
The button was shaped like a horn with two holes and looked like wood. It had some blue thread attached to it.
“Toggle buttons were first made in the 1850s. The British navy used them on their gloves during WW1 because they made it easier to fasten and unfasten their gloves in the cold weather.”
“There you go with the history lesson again. Do you think that veteran that helped you lost it?”
“Well, he may have, but he is much too young to have fought in WW1 and he is an American, not British.” I am not sure what Jaydee was thinking.
“Oh, yeah,” was her reply.
After we got home, Jaydee went upstairs to her bedroom to read the book she got and I stayed downstairs and turned on “The Talk” until it was time to fix dinner. Jaydee asked if she could stay for a few days and since her mother agreed, she was with me when the Troy police called the next day.

“Mrs. Coonan, this is officer Dunbar. We think we caught the man who assaulted you. Would it be possible for you to come to the police station tomorrow to identify him in a lineup?”
“I can come anytime as long as I can bring my granddaughter who is currently staying with me.”
“That would be fine.”
“What time do you want me there?’
“Would 10 AM be okay? Report to the desk Sargent and tell him you are there to see me.”
“We will be there.”

At the police station, we were ushered into a room with a big glass window. On the other side were six men. Each was asked to step forward for me to look at. After seeing all six, I could not identify who had knocked me down.
“I am sorry, officer Dunbar. I did not get a good look at the man in question. He hit me from behind. As far as I am concerned, it could have been any one of them.”
“Okay, Mrs. Coonan, I knew it would be difficult, but I had hopes. We need to get this guy off the streets.”
It was then that Jaydee piped up.
“I know who did it.”
“How do you know, Jaydee?” I asked.
“Look at number 3. His coat is missing a button.”
“The buttons on his coat are just like the one I found. Just like this one.” And she pulled the button out of her coat pocket. “It’s a match.”
Officer Dunbar said, “Let me see that.” He took the button from Jaydee. “Sure enough, it looks like a match. Even the thread matches. It looks like we got our man. Thanks, young lady. I need to take that button and confront him with it. Maybe I can get him to confess.”
“You are welcome, Officer Dunbar. Glad to help.” Jaydee was all smiles. She seemed to be proud of herself.
Suspect number 3 was held in custody for arraignment.

Jaydee had an idea the next day.
“Let’s take up a collection for Chris so he can find a small apartment. I will donate any money I get for my birthday to the fund. Maybe the East Greenbush Community Library and the Troy Public Library will help.”
The Troy Public Library contacted the Troy Record and they ran a story of how a homeless veteran tried to help an elderly lady who had been robbed and the culprit was identified with the use of a button. The East Greenbush Community Library helped Jaydee set up a Go Fund Me page. A total of $899.93 was raised before CBS This Morning found out about the effort and asked Jaydee, me, and Chris to appear on their show and paid for our trip to New York City.
More donations poured in and Chris had enough money to rent a small apartment for a year and he was offered a job with a home heating company since he had experience in the military which qualified him to do the job.
All because of a lost button.

June Kosier







Meet Helene Plank, Member of the New Jersey State Button Society and Button-Bead Mosaic Artist

How long have you collected buttons? I have collected buttons for over 40 years. As a very young child, I played with an utilitarian collection my mother had. My mom was amazed that I put all of the buttons back neatly in the tin when I was finished playing.

What was your most exciting button find? My most exciting button find was when I was asked if I’d like a donation of buttons from a fellow member of the New Jersey State Button Society. I was overjoyed to receive a laundry basket full of buttons and other notions and it took me weeks to go through, and incorporate all the items into my inventory.

What’s your most favorite buttons to collect? My favorite buttons to collect are glass, shell and realistics.

What do you do with the buttons you collect? For the last 9 years, I have been creating button-and-bead mosaics, which are hand-sewn onto canvas, to create florals or portraits. On the average, I usually sew around 1,700 buttons, and the canvas usually takes about a month. The most involved mosaic I did took me 6 months and many hours to complete. It was a complicated piece called “Spectral Chamber.” I still have not gathered the courage to count all of the buttons and beads!

If you were to hit the button jackpot, what would that look like? I’d buy a wall unit made exclusively for my buttons to organize them even more than they are currently being organized.

To see some of Helene’s mosaic bead and button work, visit her Facebook page “All Buttoned Up by Helene Plank.” Here, you can read posts showing the process she has used on several of her mosaics plus some notes of interest including art shows and awards she has received. And don’t forget to like her page!

Spectral Chamber by Helene Plank


By Pat Silvernail, Elmira Button Club

“Some thrillers are so far-fetched that they lose all semblance of reality. This is a true-to-life mystery; not too fantastic to be plausible but tremendously exciting throughout. It combines lively action with likable characters, realistic atmosphere–and a surprising ending.” This is the description taken from the book jacket and the book does indeed have a surprise ending!

Also from the book jacket – Dorothy Foster Brown was born in 1901 and lived in Worcester, Massachusetts. Her interests were wide and varied. As an artist (she graduated from the School of the Worcester Art Museum), she exhibited paintings in various cities. Her poetry appeared in the better magazines and on greeting cards of her own design. Her interest in stamp and button collecting led to her becoming a regular contributor to the magazine, HOBBIES. GRIMM DEATH, which reflects a deep attachment to the rural New England way of life, was the first of what was confidently expected to be a succession of first-rate mystery stories. ( This was her only mystery novel).

Before “The Big Book of Buttons” was first published in 1981, there was “Button Parade” published in 1942 and revised in 1968. The Lightner Publishing Company of Chicago, publisher of the famous HOBBIES magazine, issued the first edition of this book written and illustrated by Miss Brown. Mr. Lightner had many hobbies and went on to establish the Lightner Museum in St. Augustine, Florida which does indeed have a button collection in its many exhibits. Miss Brown did not write a technical book devoted to button composition and manufacturing. Rather, she looked at buttons from the human side because they are beautiful, interesting or amusing or from the standpoint of Art, Beauty and Human Interest. The author had a true collectors love for craftsmanship and detail as represented in the some 2,000 buttons shown–each painstakingly drawn by Miss Brown.

Dorothy Foster Brown became a button enthusiast in 1933 when pioneer collectors in New Hampshire introduced her parents to the hobby. Her mother was a teacher and her father an artist and designer. She started contributing button articles and drawings to HOBBIES in 1938. At the time, it was the world’s most famous publication devoted to Antiques. Miss Brown also devoted much of her time to history, liked mystery novels and Dickens and was an avid baseball fan. “I enjoy buttons” she wrote, “and I also enjoy the good friends and interesting acquaintances I have made through the hobby. But I endeavor to keep a sense of proportion: I refuse to become too serious about buttons, or to let them become too important in my scheme of things. After all, there are so many interesting things in the world!”

Miss Brown’s South High Yearbook photo includes the quote “Better to wear out than to rust out”. She was always on the honor roll and it was said she could out-talk every pupil and nearly every teacher on the subject of “War”. She spent most of her time in the art room where her fame was firmly established. In 1952, she sent a letter to a Mrs. Gibson in Worcester and enclosed four buttons she had painted– two of them were Jenny Lind, one was a snowman and one had a helmeted woman and said “Rule Britannia”. She said they were individualized and she never knew how they would come out.

Her death date is listed as “Unknown”. She is buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Leominster, Massachusetts. A lovely monument has her parents’ names and dates but her name has only 1901–. One of the auction houses selling her artwork said she was 119. Her paintings are lovely, very much in the Art Deco style.


Images found at the website.

Famous Rochesterian Was A Member of the Rochester Button Society

By Linda Hickey, Rochester Button Society

Did you know that Margaret Woodbury Strong was a member of the Rochester (NY) Button Society?

Margaret Woodbury Strong, the only child of the wealthy, philanthropic Woodbury family joined the RBS in 1958 and was a member until her death in 1969. Margaret, whose only child passed away as a young adult had established a private museum to house her many extensive collections and she endowed the museum (now known as the Strong Museum) with her large fortune.

Born in 1897, Margaret started her collecting with a silver spoon that was a baptism gift. Her father collected stamps and coins and documented his life, extensive travels and times with many scrapbooks. Her mother collected 19th century Japanese objects d’art and her aunt collected bookplates. By age 11 Margaret had spent 6 month traveling in Japan, had also done an extensive European tour and spent another 6 months on a tour of Hawaii, Shanghai, Ceylon, Egypt and the French Riviera. Along the way she used her spending money to purchase small souvenir items. She preferred small items because she could get more items for her money and they took up less space in her suitcases than larger items. This interest in miniature and small items continued throughout the remainder of her life.

In 1920, at the age of 23, she married 45-year-old Homer Strong who happened to collect stamps and Sandwich glass. Her well-to-do parents gifted him with a significant amount of money upon the marriage so that it wouldn’t be said that they had to live off her money. In 1937 they purchased the 51 acre Tuckaway Farm and its 20,000 sq ft Italianate stucco mansion on Allen’s Creek Rd adjacent to Oak Hills Country Club. Since Margaret was an avid golfer who had won many national tournaments living close to a country club was important. The large secluded house had 30 rooms, 15 bedrooms, an indoor pool and an elevator. Though Margaret always collected items, it wasn’t until after the deaths of her daughter (at age 24) and of Homer in 1958 that Margaret truly devoted her life to her collections and her private “Museum of Fascination.” It has been said that she had the three qualities of a world class collector; 1) passion, 2) money, and 3) a place to store the collections.

Margaret was known for several quirks such as never wearing a girdle but always wearing a hat and only paying bills on January 1 each year. She wanted to earn as much interest money as possible each year and refused to deal with any shop owner or business that wouldn’t let her pay just once a year. One of the oddest set of items in her collections was the 50 bath tubs she purchased from an old hotel in Maine. She had the gardener line the tubs up along the driveway to her Maine summer home and used them as flower planters. She also got various artists to decorate the outside of the tubs so each one was unique.

At the time of her death her estate listed the following significant collections:

  • 400 Japanese writing sets, medieval canes and sword guards
  • 86,000 bookplates
  • 27,000 dolls
  • 600 doll houses
  • 10,000 rare books
  • 20,000 library books
  • 12,000 prints, photos and etchings
  • 1000 paintings

Since her interests were mainly in miniatures or small scale, highly decorative mass-produced Victorian and Edwardian items it makes sense that she was interested in buttons. Unfortunately for the button collecting world, Strong Museum decided that buttons were not where they wanted to put the museum’s focus so the majority of Margaret’s button collection was sold at auction.

On June 8, 1968 Margaret hosted the Rochester, Buffalo and Genesee Buttons Clubs at her home for a gala lunch (catered by Oak Hills) and tour of her museum to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Rochester Button Society. Sadly Margaret passed away just over a year later on July 16, 1969.

Below is a card of some Margaret Woodbury Strong’s Buttons that are part of Norma Brown’s collection today.  Thanks Norma for sharing!

Information gathered from Strong Museum website, Crooked Lake Review website by local historian Donovan A. Shilling and RBS historical files.