Billiken Button


Billiken button


Pam’s Pictorama Post: Seems that with the gift of this Billiken button from my husband I am, as I always knew, a lucky girl indeed! The wonderous Mr. Deitch surprised me with this acquisition a couple of weeks ago while he was burrowing deep into Billiken lore on a Facebook post. For those of you who missed that, it appears to have been inspired by a Billiken image on a cigar box – Kim was having a good time with cigar box pics a few weeks ago. Seems that research turned up the origin of the Billiken as a pretty good story – the creator Florence Pretz, art teacher and illustrator, brought it into existence it after seeing it in a dream. She christened him (it?) Billiken based on a poem, Mr. Moon: Song of the Little People, the appropriate passage below:

O Mr. Moon,
We’re all here!
Honey-bug, Thistledrift,
White-imp, Weird,
Wryface, Billiken,
Quidunc, Queered;
We’re all here, 
And the cost is clear!
Moon, Mr. Moon,
When you comin’ down?


Ms. Pretz did obtain a patent on Billiken, but where she made her mistake would appear to be in selling it to what became the Billiken Company of Chicago, which ultimately managed to merchandise him into a crazy cash cow nothing short of an international mania – his likeness was borne by toys, figurines, tobacco products, at least one football team, several early 20th century minor league baseball teams, and of course and evidently, clothing buttons. Strangely asian and eskimo cultures seem to be especially susceptible to his charms.

The other especially compelling fact about Billikens are that they are said to be the god of things as they ought to be. That’s a pretty interesting idea and I can see how it could be a double-edged sword as I consider it. Nevertheless, it is said to be good luck to purchase one – and even better luck to be given one. (Thank you Kim! I can use all the luck I can get.)

I hardly have to remark on the pearlized wonderfulness of this item. It fairly glows. It is actually beyond even my imagination to consider what an item of clothing might have looked like with a fewof these sewn on. Wowza!