Friday, April 28, 2017

Layered Circus Cake


A lucky button for sure, this animated doozy sports an eyeful of bright plastic pieces topped with a scarlet bead. The bead is not Bakelite. It's probably a type of plastic called casein. The only Bakelite section of this button is the layer below the bead, which is catching gobs of sunlight in this photo. Color-wise, this piece is orange juice Bakelite with plenty of visible swirling. The three lower layers did not test positive for Bakelite and I believe they are also made of casein. There's a circus-like charm about this perky button. It reminds me of a little cake and it works nicely as a cheerer-upper. It's hard to put a date on this one, but it might go back to the early 1940's.

-Sherbert McGee

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Fettuccine Wraparound


Wrapped in pasta-like strands, the centerpiece of this vintage button is a green octagon in Bakelite. But it's those twisty rows of celluloid strands that make this bold curiosity such a standout. When I first laid eyes on this button, I thought surely someone had glued the celluloid wreath to the Bakelite as a homespun embellishment. I was wrong. This is not a craft project, but a factory-made button from the early 1940's when Bakelite items were finally dying out as manufacturers began producing cheaper varieties of plastic. On a side note, fettuccine means "little ribbons" in Italian.

-Sherbert McGee  

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Maritime Keepsakes


Ahoy there! Carrying on with a week of buttons made of Bakelite combined with other types of plastic, here's a set of three buttons featuring nautical themes. While the black and creamed corn bases of these buttons are Bakelite, the seafaring designs are celluloid pieces. Due to its two-tone composition, I would consider the anchored specimen to be a Bakelite cookie button. These old collector's items are hard to find in decent condition since the celluloid bits tend to be ragged and soiled. Mine are in fair shape, which isn't quite as good as shipshape.

-Sherbert McGee

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Telephone Corded Button


Remember those stretchy cords that came out of landline telephones back in the day? This large and bizarre button is bordered in that same plastic cordinga sort of rubberized celluloid if there is such a thing. The main, brown component of this old wonder tested positive for Bakelite. Classified as one of my favorite weirdos, in all my research I've never seen anything like this daffy crank-caller of a button. When you hold it up to your ear, you can actually hear a dial tone.

-Sherbert McGee   

Monday, April 24, 2017

A Basket Case


I said it was coming and here it is: a whole week of buttons that combine elements of Bakelite with other varieties of plastic, namely celluloid or casein. Getting down to business, today's button is one of my best loved combos. When my friend Doreen found this button during one of her hunts for vintage rarities, she described it to me as a red Bakelite ball with a celluloid collar. Now it's in my collection and I'm amazed that this button even exists on account of its large size and questionable functionality. I can't imagine this slipping easily through a button hole, but that's part of the fun of this major oddity. Flower-like and pristine for its age, it has the appearance of a cherry orb in a plastic basket. A downright crazy button from the 1940's.

Visit Doreen's online store 
Click here: BUTTONS FROM THE ATTIC 


-Sherbert McGee 

Friday, April 21, 2017

Bakelite and Busby Berkeley


Ta-da! Nothing tops this massive and magnificently opulent button in carved apple juice Bakelite with its exploding motif of geometric petals and theatrical facets. Weighty and glass-like, the bottom of the button is carved into a flower design that was painted a dusty mauve. From the top view, this fragile blossom looks like a sunken treasure in liquid gold. Because of its elaborate detail, every time I hold this button I see an old Busby Berkeley movie-musical unfolding in the kaleidoscopic contours of 1920's pageantry and its accompanying art deco mystique. It's almost as if this button wasn't just manufactured; it was choreographed.

Busby Berkeley was famous for creating highly ornate musical numbers that encompassed intricate, geometric patterns out of huge ensembles of showgirls. These on-screen fantasy sequences have been described as the glitziest, greatest and most jaw-dropping production numbers ever assembled for film. Specializing in epic splendors, his entertainment heyday during the Great Depression bedazzled Americans with a uniquely unparalleled cinema. 

Visit Doreen's online store 
Click here: BUTTONS FROM THE ATTIC


-Sherbert McGee      

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Art Deco Toggle


Check out this old toggle button from the 1920's or 30's. An attractive cylinder in cherry red Bakelite, it runs smooth before getting complicated with a fancy bit of meshwork. The crisscross design is an example of the "undercut" or "double cut" method of crafting a button with opposing cuts to the top and bottom layers of the Bakelite, which appear to intersect. What's more, this darn snazzy toggle achieves the token zing! of the Art Deco style.

-Sherbert McGee    

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Sinister Minister


Speak of the devil! Like an ominous talisman, this Bakelite button is a wicked sensation in tones of polished black against explosive orange juice. The black topside resembles the letter "H" and that stands for HELLFIRE! The orange juice layer is an evil storm of billowing flamestruly an inferno of satanic elegance. No other button in my collection is quite so formidable and spellbinding. 

-Sherbert McGee   

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Hypnotic Butterscotch


Let's get hypnotized! Here's a vintage button with a vortex design carved into a definitive tone of butterscotch Bakelite. I love the dizzying effect of the pinwheel shape and the tunnel-like illusion it creates. This large and dramatic button likely goes back to 1930the same year Zelda Fitzgerald was admitted to a sanatorium and diagnosed as a schizophrenic.

-Sherbert McGee

Monday, April 17, 2017

Bakelite Stripes


Several years ago, I saw this button at an antique dealership in New York City on Crosby Street in SoHo. At first glance, I thought this was a wooden button with tortoise stripes. I was wrong. This is a Bakelite button from one side to the other. The clear amber stripes are a tone of Bakelite that bears resemblance to maple syrup. The other stripes are creamed corn Bakelite with darkened swirls that are suggestive of shellacked pine. Pleasantly surprised, this button taught me a lesson in the clever guises of hard-to-identify Bakelite. circa 1928.

-Sherbert McGee