In honor of the Colorado State Button Show and Sale taking place in Denver this weekend -- April 6 and 7 -- I'm re-running this article from when I attended the 2010 show. I hope you enjoy it!
When you're not attending the workshops, you get to go and view all the trays that were entered and judged in thecompetition.
See how much prettier the trays look when the subject matter is more cohesive?
There was also a display of salesmen button sample cards. I think those would be fun to collect.
But the highlight was THE SHOPPING! There were many vendors, each with stacks and stacks of those button trays, all for sale! In most cases, you could buy the whole tray or just individual buttons off of them. It was another fantastic way to learn about button composition, style, age, etc., as the buttons trays are arranged in groups like "celluloid", "horn", "colored glass", "ivoroid", etc. The vendors are very knowledgeable about their buttons and many have traveled from out-of-state to be there; I found they were happy to tell you all about individual buttons! Prices generally started at $2 per button and went on up, with most of the nice examples being in the $12-15 range. I saw some spectacular buttons priced in the hundreds of dollars, each. We were all in button heaven!
Okay, here is my latest love -- the button I splurged on as my special purchase at the show:
This is a large button, at 1.5" diameter. It's made by an artist named Theodore Gates and is, in its own way, a collage. He's taken a cutout of a Godey fashion drawing and applied it to a watch crystal, inside. He then filled in the rest of the button with a tarry composition material. It's signed and dated by the artist, made in 1967. I just love this button. At $20, it's the most I've ever paid for a single button, by far.
I was not a big spender, but many of the serious collectors were working on filling in their collections with the high quality, rare, and beautiful buttons the vendors brought to tempt them!
Here was another large (for me) purchase: a full card of 70 tiny, colored mother of pearl buttons. Everyone was "oohing" and "ahhing" over the clever way the collector displayed them. I know how time consuming it is to put buttons on a board, so I was very impressed!
I thought it was cute, and at 70 buttons for $15 which works out to about 22 cents per button, it was a bargain, too!
I bought another card of buttons from the same vendor, who was from California. She was very nice and told me that she also sold antique trims and laces, but not at this show. A woman after my own heart. Anyway, she had put together these cute, small cards:
These are antique china buttons, which I just love. I have to get started putting more little cards like this together.
This is a red glass "storybook" button, depicting Little Red Riding Hood.
The rest of the my purchases were from what are called "poke boxes." This is when dealers put buttons that are not of high enough value to put onto trays (in most cases) or that have small imperfections into a big box with a price, 25 cents to $1, usually, and we sit around and sort through them. The poke boxes are the most fun and the most popular at the sale, needless to say!
Mother of pearl, or shell, buttons hold a special place in my heart. I have so many of the plain ones that I'm now concentrating on the carved and different shaped ones. I could look at these all day -- so soothing!
Some of my 25 cent poke box purchases: the three in the lower left corner are glass, the one above the orange glass one is MOP set in painted wood.
The buttons above were from the most popular poke box in the room: even though it was also the highest price (at $3 each!) the buttons that vendor had were superior in every way. It took me all day to get a spot huddled around that poke box, and I had to push my way in. Not that the ladies looking were unfriendly at all -- on the contrary, they welcomed me to squeeze right in! We had so. much. fun. poking through that box full of buttons together. One of the more experienced button collectors who was poking along would find a button and gasp, then she'd show us all what was so special about it. It was probably the most educational of all the hours I spent at the show, and I owe her a debt of gratitude!
The little swallow is Bakelite, and the blue paperweight button is my very first -- I've been wanting one! The experienced collectors assured us newbies we would never find those quality buttons at that price again. I could have bought hundreds (literally), and many were, but I had reign myself in!
The pictorials above are also from that poke box; they are some of the "named", well known buttons and I really wanted to have them!
This sweet little one had a surprise on the back....
See how the little shank is movable? I just love that!