Thursday, March 31, 2016

Midnight Exotica

What a vamp! Some Bakelite buttons are so dark and mysterious that they're hard to photograph unless you drown them in extra lighting effects. That's what I did with this mascara bombshell in order to accentuate her unusual design. My favorite thing about this ebony tease is her carved scenery of flowers, which could be a garden of eyelashes on wispy stems. The temptress of 1929.

-Sherbert McGee  

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Divine Leaves

According to Christian doctrine, the "Godhead" or "Trinity" is the union of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. With its ring of three corresponding leaves, this button looks to me like it could be a religious symbol of that heavenly alliance. Throw in the fact that it's chocolate Bakelite and what we have here is a pure and priestly chunk of Hershey's sanctitude. Behold, a button that's going to church!

-Sherbert McGee      

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Tropical Fandango

You can tell this is an angular button just by looking at its 7-humped shadow. The style is Art Deco, a bold and distinctive stamp of 1920's vanity. The material is green Bakelite, elegantly groomed into a carved arrangement of leafy flourishes. It's only a button, but this slab of plastic packs a jungly flair that could hide a tiger and shelter a toucan. If you look close enough, you can see Josephine Baker dancing in the foliage.

-Sherbert McGee 

Monday, March 28, 2016

Granny's Bouquet

Here's a Bakelite button topped with a six-flowered posy in nickel, an escutcheon that reminds me of the ironwork on the buildings around Rockefeller Center in New York City. I always think of this as a grandmotherly button. The Bakelite base is a dishy, glowing example of apple juice. Bathing in the sun, this old button could pass for a juicy dewdrop in a metal bonnet. 

-Sherbert McGee    

Friday, March 25, 2016

In Cahoots

Little remnants of America's rowdiest party-age, this conspiring twosome go back to the 1920's and still look like they're in the mood for jazz-infused hijinks, outlawed nightspots and "sparkling cider" if you know what I mean. Chewable to the eye, they both smack of syrupy gold and a wild past. Buttons with spunk, I think I'll call these Bakelite rascals Minnie and Beauregard. 

-Sherbert McGee   

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Clash of Shadows

Look into this swirled mass of rootbeer Bakelite fused with apple juice Bakelite and get hypnotized by the battle between light and dark. It looks more like a petri dish than a button, but this petaled splendor comes straight off of a flapper's winter coat. Rubbing my thumb over the top of this cloudy eclipse, I count this among my buttons with a supernatural flavor. Made in the 1920's.

-Sherbert McGee  

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Wonder Woman's Earrings

Tonight I'm going to a screening of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, but the superhero I'm most excited to see is Wonder Womanplayed by Israeli actress, Gal Gadot. I've always been a fan of Wonder Woman's American-flag-inspired costume and since this movie refashions that patriotic outfit into an unrecognizable blend of copper pleats and Viking's armor, I've decided that today I'm going to celebrate old-school Wonder Woman with this set of red, Bakelite buttons, a.k.a. Wonder Woman's earrings.

They aren't especially eye-catching, but they've got that telltale heft and feel that makes Bakelite so infectiously delicious. What I really like about this particular pair of buttons is that if you shoot them with any type of firearm, the bullets will ricochet right off of them! On that note, let's hope that when Wonder Woman gets her own movie in 2017 that Warner Bros. will come to their senses and put some semblance of the original threads back on DC Comic's most classic American heroine.

Thank Hera for Bakelite!
-Sherbert McGee         

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Freckly Humdinger

This cream-toned flower button is cause for some uncertainty with its bespattered surface of tiny brown flecks. I can't decided if they were caused by an external spray of some kind or if they're true to the original make of the button. One thing for sure is that these freckles aren't going to be rubbed out any time soon (though turpentine and a blowtorch might do the trick). While this button does test positive for Bakelite, it's the only Bakelite button I own that's as freckled as a Scottish Boy Scout.

-Sherbert McGee   

Monday, March 21, 2016

Figural Buttons: Black Bears

Now that it's officially springtime, I'm marching out these post-hibernation black bears (though they might actually be raccoons). Anyhow, these are known by collectors as "figural buttons" and unlike the carved type of Bakelite, these buttons are factory-pressed. I've been told that this variation of button was primarily used on children's clothing and ladies blouses as a short-lived trend in the early 1930's. At some point in the future of this blog, I'll be showcasing a week-long slew of figural buttons since they came in formations galorefrom monkeys to swansand I've got quite a circus going.

-Sherbert McGee

Friday, March 18, 2016

100 Days of Buttons

Feast your peepers on a big fat, three-colored masterwork of genuine Bakelitestraight out of the Roaring Twenties (if not the Screeching Thirties). This button is laboriously carved, thickens in the middle and oozes all the vintage vitality of the Gatsby era's most seductive plastic. Hitting jackpots like this is why I rummage through antique shops across the country in search of Bakelite. On that note, this particular button marks my 100th post on this up-and-coming website. 

Brace yourselves, peeps! This blog is just getting started.

-Sherbert McGee  

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Stylized Shamrock

This morning I dug through my bucket-o'-buttons and settled on this futuristic clover with its sharp design and Celtic pluck. A leprechaun's loss, there's a dusty green vest somewhere in Dublin that's missing a piece. If this lucky button seems oddly shiny, that's because it's coated in an old glaze (a lamination of some sort), but it does test positive for Bakelite. Given the fact that I'm Irish, I present this button with one of my all-time favorite limericks:

'Twas a crazy old man called O'Keef
Who caused local farmers much grief.
To their cows he would run,
Cut their legs off for fun
And say, "Look I've invented ground beef!"

Happy Saint Patrick's Day,
-Sherbert McGee   

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Ball Button in Creamed Corn

One of the rarest types of Bakelite buttons is the spherical variety, or what's known as a ball button. For my personal collection I'll usually only invest in a ball button if it's unusually large. This creamed corn orb is an exemplary biggie that measures one inch across, which is the fattest ball button I've seen. Its jagged carvings have a rough-hewn texture that give it the look of a battle-scarred novelty bauble. This is one beast of a button and I'll bet it could choke a rhinoceros.

-Sherbert McGee     

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Rootbeer Puddles

Look what just dripped out of the soda fountain. Rootbeer buttons. I keep these three all tied up together in a small velvet pouch. There's nothing particularly striking about them and I don't recall finding them on any notable odyssey of button hunting, but these are genuine Bakelite and that alone makes them pretty darn special. Circa the 1930's.

-Sherbert McGee   

Monday, March 14, 2016

Spotted Apple Juice

I spotted this spotted button a few years ago on a trip somewhere in one of the New England states. At first glance I mistook the spots for tiny, evenly-spaced bubbles inside of the Bakelite. On further inspection, I realized that the spots were actually carved on the backside of the button, giving the appearance of carbonated cider. Then again, it looks like this button has chicken pox.  

-Sherbert McGee

Friday, March 11, 2016

A Button within a Button!

Here's my Friday wowzer. This oversized button measures more than 2 inches across. The outer frame is a ten-lobed splash in bright brown. Embedded in the chocolate Bakelite is an apple juice centerpiece with an underside that's been etched with a star-like design, which could be the hybrid of a snowflake and a marijuana leaf. The lady who sold me this button told me that she'd cut it off of a fur coat from the 1930's. In my quest for Bakelite buttons, I've never seen another one like it.

-Sherbert McGee 

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Moss Fossil

Holy Jurassic Bakelite! This button, with its prehistoric-look of carved ridges and crocodile-colored skin, makes me think of a petrified zygote that got dredged-up from a primordial lagoon. Alas, this isn't an archaeological find or a fossilized eel egg, but a large moss-toned button with a sci-fi vibe. To that end, I count this gnarled oddity among my favorite Bakelite freakoids. Yay for science!

-Sherbert McGee

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Patina in Lieu of Pollen

On account of an early spring, my allergies have officially begun in the form of round-the-clock sneezing and a frantic need for Benadryl. The world is full of fuzz and my itchy sniffer is not amused. Enter this dark blossom with a well-earned patina in its central design of chiseled stubs. If Bakelite could inflame sinuses, here's a button that would have me dying of terminal hay-fever. That's all I have to say about this shadowy marigold. Gesundheit!

-Sherbert McGee 

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Toggle Tuesday: Jellybeans

Last week I posted a set of rootbeer gumdrops. Today I'm spotlighting a threesome of glistening, cherry jellybeans. The comparison between Bakelite buttons and diverse candy items just goes on and on. What I love about these confectionary beans is the slits or "gills" that, without question, place them in the Art Deco genre of the 1920's. I purchased these toggles last month from an antique dealer in Kansas and have not been able to stop looking at them. If the Good Ship Lollipop had the means to participate in candied warfare, these would be the ship's melt-in-your-mouth torpedoes. Mighty dee-lish!

-Sherbert McGee

Monday, March 7, 2016

Art Deco Idealized

You could comb your hair with this button if you had to. The diagonal cuts on this butterscotch rake are a case in point when it comes to the Art Deco style that I like to cite so often in these fancy old buttons, "a style characterized by precise and boldly delineated geometric shapes" (and that's the dictionary talking). Everybody knows how much I love Bakelite buttons, but when those buttons possess this much 1920's zing, I fall straight off of my rocking horse.

-Sherbert McGee   

Friday, March 4, 2016

Her Majesty...

Doreen, my five-star friend and key advisor in Bakelite button hunting, sold me this button a few years ago in a mutual fever-of-excitement over such a majestic find. The base of this queenly vision is an orangey mirage of apple juice Bakelite (or the color-variety we call iced tea). Next up is a brass crown eclipsed by a jet-black bead. If this ladylike button came to life, she would incite wars, win applause and demand cake. No doubt about it, this dame is solid royalty.

Visit Doreen's online store

-Sherbert McGee

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Rootbeer Gumdrops

Oh, sweet heavens! No one's collection of Bakelite buttons is complete without at least five rootbeer gumdrops. (I say five, because that's how many I own.) Plump as lip-smacking bonbons, if I had to eat my buttons I might start with these tortoise nuggets. They have the squishable look of molasses-infused delicacies, but don't be deceived! These shiny goobers are as hard as woodpecker lips.
-Sherbert McGee 

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Trefoil Buttons

These buttons are in the shape known as a "trefoil" design. By definition, the word trefoil means: a lobed, cloverlike leaf on a small European plant of the pea family. I don't own many trefoil buttons, but I'm always on the lookout for these rarities. It's interesting to note that back in the 1920's, when Bakelite first came on the market, the Bakelite company used a trefoil logo in magazine ads

In these vintage ads the company catchphrase is, "BAKELITE: The Material of a Thousand Uses."

-Sherbert McGee

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Leaning Logs

My favorite thing about these slanted buttons is the eye-like slits that evoke the art deco style of the 1920's and 30's. Aside from that, these creamed corn twins are the perfect example of buttons that provide the celebratory Bakelite clack, which is the sound that collectors swear by when it comes to identifying Bakelite. Tap two pieces of true Bakelite together and the giveaway clack is guaranteed. In search of that revealing timbre, these old logs have definitely got it.

-Sherbert McGee