Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Big Rock Candy Mountain!

Every now and then I find a button that defies buttonhood and appears to be evolving into some other thing. That's what seems to be happening with this multistory hunk of chocolate Bakelite layered over a base of root beer. Actually, there are four tiers of these alternating colors that make this button a soaring extravaganza. I don't know how this burly studmuffin would've fit through a buttonhole. The bottom layer is a bulging triangle that scoops inwards on all three sides to an angular top-layer that's absolutely bonkers. One of my Bakelite trophies, I totally LOVE this button.

-Sherbert McGee

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

A Pair of Green Bowls

As soon as I saw these bowl buttons at a pawnshop in Atlantic City, I thought of an old ashtray that my grandma used to use for smothering out the tips of her mangy smokes. These green antiques tested positive for Bakelite. I tipped one of them over in this photo to show the "self-shank" style of fastener that's built into the plasticnot uncommon in Bakelite buttons.

-Sherbert McGee  

Monday, June 27, 2016

Root Beer Tires

They look fiery, don't they? Last night I took this picture of these Bakelite, 4-hole buttons and they seem to have gained a reddish luster from the glow of the sunset. Anyway, it's just a trick of the light. These are root beer buttons, dating back to the 1930's. The chunkiness of these old-timers makes them look like a couple of tires that flew off the family station wagon.

-Sherbert McGee  

Friday, June 24, 2016

2-Tone Trefoil

Move over trapezoids! If I had to choose a favorite shape, I'd settle on the not-so-widely known trefoil design. This trefoil button from the 1920's or early 30's makes my heart spin. Erupting in a 2-tone style, the Bakelite alternates between licorice and creamed corntopped with a nifty little Bakelite bead. It's a sizable and electrifying button, definitely what I'd call a dramatic zinger.

-Sherbert McGee

Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Girdled Wonder

Perhaps I zoomed in a bit too closely on this unusual button, but I wanted to clearly present its metallic outfit. This Bakelite curiosity is wearing a tin girdle! The button is small, not larger than a nickel, but bigger than a dime. The color is apple juicea candy-sized chunk of it that might be mistaken for a throat lozenge if it weren't for that rusty waistband. I count this button among my prized, Bakelite oddities and I've never seen another one like it.

-Sherbert McGee    

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Stellar Chocolate

My mother-in-law paid me a visit recently and knowing I'm a Bakelite enthusiast, she brought along a tin full of buttons in case one of them turned out to be the desired plastic. What luck! Not one, but two of her buttons tested positive for Bakelite and this is one of thema starry stunner in chocolate with a brass strip adorning the top. My mother-in-law owned this coat fixture for many years, having bought a medley of vintage buttons from a shop on Spadina Avenue in Toronto back when she was a carefree, Canadian hippie with a taste for heritage clutter. Anyway, all these years later it would seem I've inherited this chocolate star and since it comes directly from kin, I'll consider it a family jewel of sorts. Thanks, Ma! I'll guard it from thieves.

-Sherbert McGee 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Summer Buttons!

Summer is now underway and these butterscotch babies are practically two luscious suns. The identical carvings on these Bakelite jewels give the gushing appearance of something thrown or poured. I like to think of these buttons as lucky solar offerings. According to Egyptian legend, the goddess of sunlight is a cat named Bastet. These buttons could be symbolic of her long, bewitching eyelashes.

Visit Doreen's online store

-Sherbert McGee   

Monday, June 20, 2016

The Caterpillar

A couple of months ago I found this huge button from the 1930's at an antique shop in Kansas City. Stately yet strange, it could almost be a black caterpillar marching across a puddle of apple juice. Both tones test positive for Bakelite and the apple juice is particularly shimmery. Mind you, I'm not enthusiastic about bugs, but this shady worm has totally won me over.

-Sherbert McGee  

Sunday, June 19, 2016

8 Green Beehives

Back in the day when I first started collecting Bakelite buttons, I found these ribbed triangles at an antique shop on Lafayette Street in New York City. New to the Bakelite scene, I wasn't sure if they were a worthwhile investment, but I decided to buy them anyway and it's a good thing I did. Since scooping these up, I've never seen Bakelite buttons like this again. I do believe they're pretty rare. In a handsome shade of forest green, these old beehives are in pristine conditionnotwithstanding a smattering of Depression-era dust that I've got no interest in removing.

-Sherbert McGee   

Friday, June 17, 2016

Art Deco Cherry Chunk

One of my very favorite Bakelite buttons, I hold this stylized dynamo in high regard. It's like a glam spark plug. Sometimes I think Art Deco, as a mode of beauty, borrows from the expressive zing of an imagined future. A case in point, this button comes across as a bright gadget with its mechanical contours and animated geometry. That shape! It's practically a robot's bow tie in a Pixar movie.   

-Sherbert McGee

P.S. Coming Soon: Get set for a WHOLE WEEK of Art Deco buttons in July.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Schizoid Bakelite

You could say this button has two personalities: to the left there's rootbeer Bakelite, swirling with its carbonated allure. To the right there's dark chocolate, rich and lip-smacking. A sort of plumpish triangle, the Bakelite is carved with both sides fused seamlessly. I love 2-tone Bakleite and I love this button's showy dose of double distinction.   

-Sherbert McGee

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Toggle Tuesday: Butterfingers

Once a month, I like to host "Toggle Tuesday" by posting an oblong button known as a toggle. Today's edition features two Bakelite logs in a hexagonal shape. The color is dark butterscotch, just a tinge away from being a definitive orange. This pair of toggles is almost chunky enough to serve as percussion instruments. And yes, they do resonate with that inimitable, proof-of-Bakelite clack.

-Sherbert McGee

Monday, June 13, 2016

The Partygoers!

I was going to save these buttons for New Year's Day, but they spoke to me today and here they are more than six months earlier than I'd planned on posting them. These Bakelite merrymakers have it all: their stripes go every which way and they're upraised in the center and dotted as well. Turn these buttons sideways and they look like a couple of matching party hats. Must've been a real gas to be alive in 1927. Huzzah!

-Sherbert McGee 

Visit Doreen's online store

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Warped 'n Groovy

Like a vinyl record by The Beatles that got left out in the sun, this Bakelite button (in the color known as apple juice), is a twisted hippie. It's not that the Bakelite factory caught on fire or a case of some accidental heat that led to this button's malformation. No, this groovy freak was made distortionally. I like to think of it as a button that was ahead of its time. Made in the Roaring Twenties with an eye on 1960's psychedelia.

-Sherbert McGee     

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Hurricane Season

Here's one of those orange juice buttons from the 1930's that looks like it could explode any minute. Hold these babies up to the light and all you see is a battle of surging tidal waves. This Bakelite button is sparsely styled with a few exterior grooves along the top, but it's the inside that counts. What I love about orange juice Bakelite is the inner seascape of these juicy gems.

-Sherbert McGee 

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Art Deco Leaves c. 1929

Next month I'm going to post a whole week of Art Deco buttons in vogue eyefuls of solid Bakelite. In the mean time, here's a sample in highly polished moss that embodies the heralded Gatsby flair. As stated by my dictionary, art deco is: "the predominant decorative art style of the 1920s and 30s, characterized by precise and boldly delineated geometric shapes and strong colors, and used most notably in household objects and in architecture." The carved lines that form the pair of leaves on this Bakelite button express art deco to a T with nubile undulations and ageless grandiosity.

-Sherbert McGee

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Chocolate Mosque

When my friend Doreen showed me this button with its high domed escutcheon, my mind promptly went to an Islamic house of worship on the skyline of Saudi Arabia. It's a chocolate structure with deeply sliced grooves going all the way around. Pure Bakelite and quite a hardy dose of it, Doreen let me buy this button from her last year and it still amazes me. When Bakelite buttons look like tiny edifices, I'm sold!

Visit Doreen's online store

-Sherbert McGee  

Monday, June 6, 2016

The Barbed Blossom

Here's a button you don't want to swallow. Each of the butterscotch petals on this Bakelite wowzer are cut with snaggy ends. The middle sectiona dark licorice studtested positive for Bakelite as well. I paid a pretty penny for this button since jagged Bakelite doesn't come cheap. On a side note, my hay fever is at peak season right now and so it seems fitting to be posting such floral savagery. 

-Sherbert McGee

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Gold-Laced Nugget

How's this for fancy Bakelite? It's a chunky shard of towering rootbeer that's got an interesting tilt. Giant as the Matterhorn and laced in pleated metal, it looks like this button's been strapped down. Truly a nugget, I don't remember where I found this fetching alp. It's been in my collection for quite some time and I count it among my chicest oddities. (Tested positive for Bakelite, circa 1930).

-Sherbert McGee

Friday, June 3, 2016

Betty Boop's Corsage

Several years ago I bought a set of ten or twelve Bakelite buttons from an art & antiques dealer in Manhattan. Half the buttons were of a variety I really wanted and the other half was not up to snuff in my opinion. This rather flat, cherry-red flower meant nothing to me at the time, as it was one of the buttons in the assortment that I wasn't too excited about. But given time, I've come to appreciate this funny rose. It's got the olden-day look of comic book art from the 1920's or an illustration out of the "Sunday funnies" during the Prohibition era. It's got Little Orphan Annie written all over it! So why'd I underestimate this pretty thing? It's got spunk after all.

-Sherbert McGee

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Rusty Helicopter

Here's an old button that I've had for quite some time. It's a watered down glass of apple juice (Bakelite) in its most voluptuous formbarely caverd and smooth as a bubble. The tarnished escutcheon isn't screwed on too tightly and it actually spins. Basically, this vintage baby sports a creaky propeller. A button destined for flight, maybe? 

-Sherbert McGee