Friday, November 20, 2015

Poppy on Chocolate

Some of the most sophisticated Bakelite buttons ever assembled were garnished with an escutcheon. I think that'll be the word of the day: Escutcheon. The definition is as follows:

Escutcheon (i'skuchun) 
"A flat piece of metal for ornamentation."

As a general rule, I prefer to collect Bakelite buttons without escutcheons since they often distract from the Bakelite. However, if the Bakelite is carved or artfully distinguished I will make an exception. This is one of those exceptions. The sloped sides of this button call attention to two rows of hoop-shaped indentations. Although the brass poppy escutcheon is definitely the central attraction, it's the carved Bakelite that I love the most. The color is chocolate, a toothsome hue that really does look like a Hershey confection.

Based on the Art Nouveau style of this escutcheon, I believe this button is nearly a century old. The vintage design of the poppy evokes the illustrations of John R. Neill who illustrated the original "Wizard of Oz" books between 1904 and 1920. The poppy is also a "remembrance symbol" that is used to honor soldiers who died during WWI between 1914 and 1918. The poppy was eloquently popularized as an emblem of the war's death toll in the John McCrae poem, "In Flanders Fields."  

I purchased this button in 2014 from an antique dealer in Royalton, Vermont.

-Sherbert McGee     

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