A Button Sampler

We celebrated the April 2003 opening of the Keep Homestead Museum with a Button Sampler Exhibit featuring examples of Myra’s many different types of buttons. In the main cabinet of the Button Room there were enamels, Golden Age, silver, Aritas, Satsumas, Moonglows, fabric, vegetable ivory, Eskimo art, horn, Jerusalem Pearls, a charm string, ruby glass, black glass, cinnabar, Brooks, celluloids, ivoroids, Bakelites, and others on display.

In the “Victorian Corner,” there are Gay Nineties buttons, kaleidoscopes, Victorian glass, glass lustres as well as popper buttons. You will be able to see peacock eye buttons and others from this Victorian time period.

In the “Gentlemen’s Corner” there are the ever popular political buttons, military buttons, and the copper gilt “colonial” buttons. The colonials are among the oldest buttons in the museum. Added this year to this corner are some stud buttons, bridle buttons, as well as another card of colonials featuring more of the front closure buttons as well as the sleeve size buttons. There are also buttons of historical significance to Monson and Massachusetts along with studio buttons celebrating the bicentennial of 1976.

In the Figural Cabinet are featured storybook buttons, Cupids, theater, and opera buttons, to name only a few. There are also popular button reference books so visitors may take note of some of the newer books available to the button enthusiast.

Last, but never least are the Mosaic Buttons on permanent display in the Main Button Room. They are housed in special cabinets designed and built especially for these beautiful little works of art. They cover approximately one hundred years of production, 1850–1950. They were recarded by members of the Monson Button Club using exactly the same card patterns that Myra used. There is a pleasant surprise on one of the cards of mosaics. For whatever reason, Myra put some Gin Bari enamel buttons on one of the mosaic cards. When the buttons were redone the integrity of the card was left as found. See if you can find them when you visit the Keep.

In the second Button Room there continue to be educational button exhibits so that the visitor can try to track down different types of buttons by getting a close-up view with labels. New to the room are some glass construction buttons with labels. Some of the nomenclature has changed over the years. Can you find some of the differences as you view the button cards?

In the Reception Room there are two new exhibits, one is devoted to gemstone buttons and the other to the Kate Greenaway buttons. These were both favorites of Myra. She collected many books written by Kate Greenaway as well many more Kate Greenaway buttons, many of which are still in storage. The gemstone buttons are coordinated with the rock and mineral exhibit in the Rock and Shell Room and in the cabinet opposite the buttons.

On the second floor of the museum there are more examples from Myra’s extensive collection. There are cards on display in the 1930s bedroom and in the schoolroom, as well as in the upper hall. Each year since the Keep opened, one type of button has been featured. This year, rather than feature just one type of button, volunteers looked into the storage closets for as many different types of buttons as they could find. Their goal was to present buttons that had never been on display before.

Most of them needed recarding and work went forward all winter long to accomplish this goal. However, as you review the different cards on display you will notice that several types of buttons are notably missing. This will be rectified in the future, but what must be put back into storage to accomplish this goal? In the refreshment area of the Keep Homestead Museum, the “Children’s Display” of buttons has been maintained. When students visit the museum in the fall of the year, they learn about storybook buttons and how to follow clues to identify the actual buttons. There are fairy tale buttons, nursery rhyme buttons and fable buttons as well as policemen’s uniform buttons, transportation buttons, and character buttons exhibited. When these same students return to the museum with their families they proudly share this information with them.

Do enjoy the button pictures that are being posted for your viewing pleasure and note that this is just a sampling of Myra’s button collection.

Written by Jacquie Hatton, 2003

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