Friday, July 29, 2016

Quadruple Rings

Four interlocking rings form the etched design on this button and each of them is studded with a metal pin. The design reminds me of a cross between the symbol for atomic energy and the official symbol for the Olympic games. The button is made of Bakelite in the color known as rootbeer. We plastic buffs don't refer to this color very often as tortoise, although it definitely is faux tortoise. This button hasn't been in my collection for very long. I acquired it earlier this summer and consider one of my coolest finds of this year so far.

Visit Doreen's online store

-Sherbert McGee   

Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Cosmic Octopus

I liken this button to an octopus because of its spinachy green frontage with sucker-like spots and freaky charm. It's a two-tone button with an apple juice center. Inside and out, this button tested positive for Bakelite. I love the unevenness of the sucker spots going around the button like oogly-woogly components of a cell seen under a microscope. On that note, this button could be a mutant contagion from outer space!

Visit Doreen's online store

-Sherbert McGee  

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Peanut Butter Patty

Here's a two-tone button that always reminds me of a butterscotch wafer topped with a chocolate glaze. Otherwise, this could be an olden-day peanut butter cup. The button measures 1.5 inches across and both colors, top and bottom, tested positive for Bakelite. Out in the sun on my balcony, where I took this picture, this deceptively yummy button really does look like a chocolate mouthful.

-Sherbert McGee 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Defending a Grubby Old Square

This butterscotch square button tested positive for Bakelite. I polished it just a tinge, but I'm fine with a thin layer of grunge on old buttons. Is that gross? To me, if something is an antique it's allowed to have a patina or a faint bit of historical residue in its hard-to-reach places. Nothing escapes the ravages of time, right? At any rate, in my eyes this vintage square is a flawless treasure.

-Sherbert McGee 

Monday, July 25, 2016

Studded Iced Tea

On the spectrum of Bakelite's many colors there's an unusual tone known as iced tea that lies between apple juce and rootbeer. These iced tea buttons are studded with metal pins that were injected into the Bakelite during the manufactural process. As is the case with many of my Bakelite buttons, I purchased these from my good friend and fellow button-enthusiast, Doreen, who runs a vintage button emporium out of her home in Michigan. I can't endorse Doreen's business enough. Her wealth of buttons (of all makes, categories and styles) is absolutely kaleidoscopic.

Visit Doreen's online store

-Sherbert McGee

Friday, July 22, 2016

ART DECO: Quintessential

High on the pedestal of my most spectacular buttons sits this Art Deco paragon in licorice and apple juice Bakelite. The man who sold me this button said that he'd taken it off of a fur coat that was made between 1925 and 1929 by the fashion house known as Fendi. Alas, the coat was infested with old fleas doing the Charleston in the fusty mink fibers, but oh how the buttons live on! Just gaze at that design. Gadzooks!!! 

-Sherbert McGee

Thursday, July 21, 2016

ART DECO: Metal Orbs

Sweet Jeepers! These are some very peculiar buttons. I don't know if these are supposed to be imitating Saturn, but with the Bakelite rings wrapping around those nickel hemispheres, I've always referred to these as my Art Deco Saturn buttons. They're a little tarnished and slightly dented, but I love these ornamental curiosities just the same. Oddball buttons with cherry halos, they measure over an inch across.

-Sherbert McGee   

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

ART DECO: Blossoms

The style known as Art Deco often took a cue from nature with artful tendrils, lightning bolts, wildlife and nautical elements inspiriting the celebrated flair on everything from jewelry to teapots. Buttons too, carried this bold and upscale treatment. Here's a sun-drenched pair of Bakelite flower buttons in the color known as apple juicedefinitely bearing the art deco style.

-Sherbert McGee

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

ART DECO: Screw Tops

Screw top buttons are a smart and spiffy example of the Art Deco style. I acquired these Bakelite dandies one by one until totting up this set of four in maroon, cherry, deep green and dark brown. Tokens of industry, these buttons reflect the mighty rise of art deco skyscrapers that turned cites of the 1920's into glistening kingdoms. One such masterpiece of architecture is the Chrysler Building, which underwent construction in 1928 and wowed the masses with its godly crown and ambitious magnificence. To this day, it's still one of my favorite buildings in all of New York City.

-Sherbert McGee


"There is nothing more poetic and terrible
Than the skyscrapers' battle 
With the heavens that cover them." 
Federico Garcia Lorca

Monday, July 18, 2016

ART DECO: Style Attack

Today begins my blog's week-long rave of Art Deco buttons from the 1920's and I'm leading off with this sensational dish made of lime juice Bakelite featuring a nub of creamed corn Bakelite that's been strapped to the center with a pair of silver bands. This is hardly a petite button, measuring about two inches across. And not counting Bette Davis's cigarette holder, what could be more vogue? The look here is classic Jazz Age chic. Bakelite of any kind is rare, but "lime juice" Bakelite is an especially hard-to-find truffle. Look at those whirling green galaxies! This token of the times roars high hats and Park Avenue, circa you-know-exactly-when. 

-Sherbert McGee

Friday, July 15, 2016

Cherokee Rose

Maybe it's my Arizona roots talking, but does this button not look like it fell off of a Native American Indian's mackinaw? The design brings 4 hearts together, all covered in sculpted dashes and googly dots. Can you paint with all the colors of the wind? Honest-to-goodness Bakelite in the color known as tortoise, or more affectionatelyrootbeer, this desert flower is a button for Pocahontas.

-Sherbert McGee  

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Yin and Yang

Photography isn't my strong suit, but here's where I did good. This might be the best photo I've taken on this blog, having gotten the sizing, angle, texture and lighting just right. The subject is a handsome button that deserves no less. It's a yin-yang masterstroke in espresso and creamed corn. Both sides are Bakelite and both sides are in mint condition. The man who sold me this button told me that it came from a coat that was once owned by actor, Danny Kaye who's first film, Moon Over Manhattan, was released in 1935. 

-Sherbert McGee

Wednesday, July 13, 2016


There's a slightly art deco look to this maroon button with a faint amount of patina resting in each of its slanted grooves. Bakelite in this color, as I've mentioned before, doesn't land in my lap too often. That being said, a few years ago I was rummaging through an antique dealer's buttons in SoHo when I discovered this surprise in a tin filled with mostly junk (i.e. celluloid buttons). It was one of those rare moments when maroon Bakelite practically up and bit me on the nose.

-Sherbert McGee     

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Toggle Tuesday: Art Deco Rolling Pins

Probably among my favorite toggles, I love these Bakelite rolling pin buttons so much that I bought a set of them in cherry red as well. These creamed corn zingers epitomize art deco with their tiered ends suggestive of atomic bombshells. Get set for lots of art deco buttons, ladies and gentle fellows. Next week I'm posting nothing but swanky eyefuls of the emblematic stye of the 1920's.

-Sherbert McGee  

Monday, July 11, 2016

Lime Parfait, Anyone?

Of all the colors of Bakelite, I think it's the gamut of greens that demonstrates the most variation: emerald, moss, lime and so on. This interestingly cut square has a bright glow and a waxy surface that looks a bit like pistachio pudding, aloe vera, Nickelodeon slime, melon Jell-O, or maybe even ectoplasm! Despite its viscous appearance, this button is not the least bit slimy. Just a green weirdo with ties to the Roaring Twenties.  

-Sherbet McGee  

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Faux Tree Bark

I'm not a tree-hugger, but I will embrace any button that reminds me of a tree. Chocolatey and carved to a wild extreme, this Bakelite button's whittled center gives the impression of tree bark while the pattern of rings along the sides looks like a metaphysical energy field. Maybe I'm not a hippie, but this button definitely arouses my inner environmentalist. From the 1930's.

-Sherbert McGee

Friday, July 8, 2016

Dulce de Leche

Never dismiss a button too hastily for not appearing to be Bakelite. This large and exceptionally smooth specimen looks like a hunk of glass. It's not glass though. It's authentic Bakelite, featuring a centralized square of apple juice with an unusual sort of caramelized hue framing the button like finely combed strands of honey blonde hair. Surely some sugar and butter went into the making of this toffee goddess! I won't lie; I'm very tempted to lick this button right now.

-Sherbert McGee

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Twice the Heat

Recently, I visited some of my family in Arizona and the weather there was quite droughty and unpleasant. These matching sun buttons in bright orange Bakelite remind me of the heat's intensity throughout the Southwest. Years ago, I wrote a poem about Arizona and titled it "Blood and Cactus" in honor of the desert's cruel scenery. Normally, this blog is not a forum for my poems, but here's Blood and Cactus in case anyone's interested in a vivid lament:

I'd rather lick a leper
Than be strapped upon a stove.
The devil ate a pepper
And their forces interwove.

Our backs are burned and belted
By the solar beam's assault.
Our blistered roads have melted,
But it's not the asphalt's fault.

This parched inferno scratches
Out the eyes of those who run.
And when the Phoenix hatches
...It's a Valley of the Sun.

-Sherbert McGee

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Granny's Lost Trinket

Historical plastic doesn't get more puzzling than this black rarity on a silver dish. The Bakelite is carved into a partial view of two flowers. The metal base is a leaden nugget, which makes this a contender for the heaviest button I own. I'm pretty sure this button could knock someone's teeth out, even if you threw it with the arm strength of an anemic girl scout. Due to the vaguely art nouveau design on the metalwork, I have a theory that this old relic was churned out as early as 1919 or the start of the 1920'saround the time that Bakelite first started appearing in marketplaces. If I'm not mistaken, this button is nearly a hundred years old.

Visit Doreen's online store

-Sherbert McGee      

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Art Deco Saucer

Art Deco is sometimes a "minimalistic" style and that's the case with this Bakelite button in a smooth shade of creamed corn. The lines on this sunshiny button are unelaborate, but the effect is a suave design that smacks of the 1920's. Later this month I'm going to post a full week of Art Deco buttons and until then, here's a sample of the old charm I love to discover in a remnant from the Jazz Age. Right off of a vintage, freethinker's overcoat!

-Sherbert McGee 

Monday, July 4, 2016

4th of July Buttons

It's Independence Day and I just laid out my favorite blue necktie for a photo shoot with these nifty red star buttons. What can I say? I'm waxing patriotic. 100% Bakelite (and possibly Prystal), these heavenly bodies make me want to bake a pie and play Katy Perry records. Baby, You're a Firework! Vintage Americana. Circa 1925.    

-Sherbert McGee

Saturday, July 2, 2016

The Mystery Critter

Complexly carved and polished to an impossibly red gleam, this Bakelite hotshot has everyone seeing something different. Does it depict a baby dragon or a little dog with a reptilian snout? I've shown this button to a few experts and the answer is never the same. "It's a lizard," they tell me. Otherwise it's an Aztec's monkey or a Chinese weasel. What other pointy-eared creature could it be, with its scaly tail, rotund eyeball and funny jaws that appear to be letting out an epic burp? Personally, I think it's a lunatic chihuahua. Made in the 1930's. 

-Sherbert McGee