Buttoned Up

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Pam’s Pictorama Post: So strange that I had never done a button post before and here is a second one in as many weeks! However, I have been keeping an eye on the antique cat button market for quite a while. There are some marvelous ones in brass that go for big money – maybe I will break down and buy one of those eventually. However, in the meanwhile, I scored this splendid little fellow just days before Kim surprised me with the Billiken button. (If you missed my Billiken Button post, it can be found here.)

While certainly not as flashy as the Billiken button (which somewhat defies the imagination when it comes to wearing) an item of clothing that sported a line of these cat buttons was one to be reckoned with too. I love the pearly quality – plastic ruled back in the early days of its use. (I examine celluloid in an early post, Fear of Celluloid, which features a cat that looks like an ivory carving) I wonder if they came in different colors – I can easily imagine green, blue and a really great yellow. I would be the queen of everything sporting that!

While eBay is always fascinating for the broadest possible view, an almost religious experience of buttons can be found in Manhattan at a tiny and wonderful store called Tender Buttons. On 62nd Street east of Lexington, just a few blocks up from Bloomingdales, sits this store which is both button museum and emporium. Back in 1988 Susan Orlean wrote a brief essay on the store and then owner for the New Yorker – Diana Epstein, who died ten years later. Ms. Epstein, a button collector and seller, had been a patron and fan of the store when she heard the original owner died and purchased it. It is still going strong so another button lover must have appeared and stepped in. I visited it with a fairly pedestrian need to replace buttons on an antique top. They were able to supply some lovely mother of pearl period buttons and, while the price was steep, I feel it was worth the price of admission to be able to dig through their stock a bit. (And yes, for those of you who are faithful readers, the store was a mere couple of blocks away from the toy hospital post mentioned previously here!)

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