Friday, December 30, 2016

Dos Chihuahuas

Gallivanting in Mexico, I'm still on holiday in Cancun and today seems like a good day to celebrate Chihuahuas. Here are two of them in red Bakelite and rootbeer Bakelite. These are larger sized buttons and technically, they are probably not Chihuahuas. They are more likely Scottish Terriers, which were quite a fashionable breed of dog at the time these buttons came into being back in the 1920's or 30's.
Buttons aside, I do happen to own a couple of real-life Chihuahuas and here they are: Fritz (left) and Zeus (right). Fritz will be twelve next year and Zeus will be four. Small dogs with mucho spunk, what I love about Chihuahuas is their huge personalities. A Chihuahua will never bore you. At heart, they're just little clowns with fur. And despite a reputation for being temperamental, if you raise them correctly they are quite affectionate. 

-Sherbert McGee

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Vintage Balls of Earthy Bakelite

Cleansing myself of 2016 (good riddance!), I've traveled to Cancun to usher in the New Year and to let the white sand beaches here work their tropical magic on my stress. Am I having a ball? Oh, yes. Balls aplenty...Here's a tough gang of 7 Bakelite "ball buttons" that smack of an earthy Spanishness. These buttons are vintage bruisers. Two of them are blessed with carved patchesevocative of Art Deco. One of them is a 2-tone cookie button in dark green and butterscotch. The others fall in line with the natural hues of a sun-drenched holiday in Old Mexico.

Estoy contento,
Sherbert McGee   

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Egg Yolk on a Stop Sign

Today I'm posting a 2-tone button that appears as a butterscotch dollop on a bright, cherry red octagon. An "egg yolk on a stop sign," both colors have tested positive for Bakelite and convey a cheerful vibrancy that only Bakelite delivers. I always say that Bakelite exudes an inexplicable joy and here's a winsome case in point. Circa 1929.

-Sherbert McGee 

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Rootbeer Jubilee

Hires, A&W, Barq's, Mug, Sprecher, Dad's, IBC, Berghoff's: What's your favorite brand of rootbeer? Ask me and I'll tell you. I like my rootbeer to be Bakelite. Here's a medium-sized button in faux tortoise, or what we Bakelite fans call "rootbeer" in our funny, food-obsessed way of labeling the vintage plastic. Probably dating back to the 1930's, this old button is carved with a bubble-like motif going around its rim. Looks like a candied refreshment.

-Sherbert McGee

Monday, December 26, 2016

Bakelite Sea Urchin

I call this button my Bakelite sea urchin because that's kind of what it looks like. Instead of carved in the usual mode of machine-sculpted plastic, this creamed corn oddity appears to have undergone some sort of precision cut operation resulting in a shapely dome of distinctly even slits. Truly unusual, it's the perfect specimen of a 1920's oddity button and one of my most eye-catching finds.

-Sherbert McGee 

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas Buttons

King-sized and weighty as rocks, this pair of Bakelite squares are among the most massive buttons in my collection. In a deep forest green and a red brick tone, the colors shine with a glassy appeal. Shape-wise, each button slopes downwards on two sides with feathered carvings laying out a bold and stylish impact. Interesting side note: these buttons were sold to me by an antique dealer in New York City who acquired the set at a warehouse auction in Connecticut where these buttons and a dozen more like them remained sealed in storage since the 1930's as part of some "lost stock" belonging to a firm owned by the Gimbel Brothers, famous for their chains of department stores that go back to 1887. The buttons were likely made in the late-1920's. Matching the traditional colors of Christmastime, I've come to see these as Santa's lucky keepsakes. 

-Sherbert McGee     

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Apple Juice Logs & Leaves

It's Christmas Eve and in light of so many stockings dangling over so many fireplaces, here's a pair of carved log buttons in apple juice Bakelite. Adorned with leaf-shaped escutcheons made of gold chrome, there's something festive about these vintage coat accessories. Clink them together and they're guaranteed to provide the beat for God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen. But in all seriousness, I'm forever oohing and aahing at the impressive stateliness of these major charmers. Circa 1935.   
-Sherbert McGee

Friday, December 23, 2016

Flambéed Butterscotch

A curious case of dark butterscotch Bakelite, this button sports a "burnt" effect that gives it the look of a flambéed sweet. The color is hard to name. Almost a rusted tone, if not more of a tannish persimmon, I don't see Bakelite in this tawny hue very often. It's not my cleanest button either. Typical of buttons dating back to the 1920's, a wealth of patina rests in the slashed grooves of this fancy octagon. On that note, someone went a little wild with the cutting tools here. The excessively carved detail parades a sharp-edged floral design that's almost suggestive of a fitful temper.

-Sherbert McGee

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Look Into These Owl Eyes

For a long time, I've eagerly anticipated posting this pair of matching buttons in a highly polished tone of deep brown unusualness known by Bakelite connoisseurs as Mississippi Mud. What sets this color of Bakelite apart from plain chocolate brown are the veinlike traces of black that are strewn into the mix. Making these buttons even more special are the dramatic carvings going around them, suggesting expressive owl eyes encircled by well-groomed plumage. Furthermore, someone took great care of these treasures as they show almost no sign of their Depression-era heritage. Buffed to an extraordinary shine, these might be the glossiest brown buttons I own. Every time I rummage through my collection, I find these unblinking peepers staring at me with a jarring and reflective intensity. 

-Sherbert McGee   

Monday, December 19, 2016

Honey Mustard Sauce

Here's a seldom-seen Bakelite anomaly. The strange color of this old button defies categorization. It's probably an apple juice button that somehow came out in a thick and foggy shade of opaque mustard. For that reason, I call it "honey mustard sauce" Bakelite and I've never seen anything else like it. Shape-wise, this large button has the look of a whopping blister. Circa 1920.

-Sherbert McGee

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Laced Squares

Concluding this week of square-shaped buttons, here's one of my most peculiar Bakelite button sets. Five buttons in a sunlit tone of green (bright lime), come with a matching Bakelite buckle. What's more, each piece is done up with a bit of well-turned-out lacework. The effect is a tidy gang of neatly bound buttons. Just imagine these green humdingers on a savvy Sally's old-time party frock. Straight out of the 1930's.

-Sherbert McGee

Friday, December 16, 2016

Square, Art Deco

Geometrically, this elegant button delivers a stunning visual appeal. Constructed out of six pieces of Bakelite, the colors are a stylishly alternating setup of licorice and apple juice Bakelite with the apple juice middle-piece sporting a blurred effect that's almost pearlescent. This Art Deco masterpiece comes from my go-to button lady and friend, Doreen, who finds and sells vintage buttons like no one else "when ordinary buttons just won't do!"

Visit Doreen's online store  

-Sherbert McGee

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

A Perfect Pair of Square Red Buttons

Back when I first started collecting Bakelite buttons, I ventured once into a dumpy little antique store in Teaneck, New Jersey and found these eye-catching beauties on sale as a set for a shockingly cheap price of only 5 smackeroos! Hailing the cashier, I said, "Ma'am, these buttons are priced unreasonably low for genuine Bakelite." She said, "What's Bakelite?" Needless to say, I snapped up these cherry babies at an incredible steal of a deal. I love the vivid "lipstick shine" of these keepers and the ideal amount of patina that rests in the squiggly carvings across their ribboned midsections. These are the first red Bakelite buttons I ever owned and they are among my all-time favorites.

-Sherbert McGee    

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

AJ and Rootbeer Square

It's "day two" of my week of square-shaped buttons and here's one of the largest treasures in my collection. The elegant simplicity of this biggie depicts apple juice Bakelite and rootbeer Bakelite wedged evenly into four sections equaling a magnificent trophy-of-a-button. I can only imagine that a button of this size and style rested on a very impressive fur coat during its heyday in the 1930's.

-Sherbert McGee

Monday, December 12, 2016

Squares & Gangsters

I've posted many square-shaped buttons since the inception of this blog, but starting today I'm showcasing a full week of squareskicking things off with these handsome two-tone buttons in licorice and creamed corn. These buttons test positive for Bakelite and were made in the 1920's. Together they form a sort of Art Deco quartet. Speaking of quartets, here's a mugshot of four gangsters from the 1920's. I have a feeling that these gentlemen are not squares:

-Sherbert McGee

Friday, December 9, 2016

Ooey Gooey Rootbeer Fudge

I get a sugar high just looking at this decadent pileup of rootbeer Bakelite sandwiched between layers of rich, rich chocolate. From one side to another, the Bakelite on this button is shaved off at an upwards angle, leaving a strip of the chocolate on top and making the rootbeer portion more visible. It's an angular concoction that must've tempted the wearer (back in the 1930's) to eat the buttons right off his coat!

-Sherbert McGee  

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Mermaid's Pet

One bubbly oddball, coming up! This bulbous and slippery jewel is the kind of Bakelite button I really go for. The color is classic apple juicesopping up scads of light. The shape is an exotic globule, carved like a flowery snowflake at the bottom and topped with a blister-like head. I reckon there's a baby jellyfish housed in this button. It's a mermaid's pet, or more specifically...a frisky sea poodle.

-Sherbert McGee    

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Butterscotch Whirligig

Here's a Bakelite button in the color known as butterscotch, a rich and bright tone that recollects a golden sundae topping. Shape-wise, this button has the look of a propeller with its carved whirligig design. Lately, I've been mindful of the interesting shadows cast by the buttons I take pictures of (see yesterday's toggles). In today's case, I liked the shadow too much to crop it out of the photo.

-Sherbert McGee 

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Toggle Tuesday: Spindly Buttons

Today is Toggle Tuesday and I've opted to post a couple of uniquely slender buttons in the colors chocolate and maroon. These toggles have narrowed midsections and tapered ends. The maroon one is extra fancy with a banded middle. Style-wise, both buttons possess an old French elegance, like gaunt fleur-de-lis. Having tested positive for Bakelite, these may go back to the early 1920's.

-Sherbert McGee 

Monday, December 5, 2016

Cuckoo Velveeta

What in the world were they thinking when these cheesy wonders came into being? Color-wise, these buttons straddle the line between butterscotch and orange. But it's the oddness of the design that's baffling. The top sections really do look like slabs of Velveeta cheese at rest on messy beds of hyperactive indentations. The excess of overwrought circles gives these Bakelite buttons a look of hammered delirium. Made in the 1930's, these unusual buttons are what I call cheddar eccentrics. 

-Sherbert McGee

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Verdant Art Deco

I can't get enough of this vintage button in opulent olive Bakelite. With its Art Deco arrangement of leaves and boldly delineated presentation, this large button from the 1920's is a declaration of style. Color-wise, the oxidation of the Bakelite over time has the green edges bearing a rusty patina that gives this button a smattering of ginger highlights. It's a case of green-going-orange, which is one of my favorite Bakelite phenomena.

-Sherbert McGee  

Friday, December 2, 2016

Aluminum Bottomed Bakelite

Another great discovery by my friend Doreen, these three apple juice buttons (a mother and two daughters) have backsides coated in an aluminum substance. I flipped one of the buttons over to show the metallic underside and it does appear to be part of the button's true factory-made origin. From the top view, you can see that the apple juice Bakelite takes on a slightly darkened effect due to the aluminum coating underneath. In person, these buttons possess an almost greenish luster. For that reason, I've nicknamed these my green tea buttons. In all my experience as a collector I've never seen any other Bakelite buttons with backsides nestled in aluminum.
Visit Doreen's online store  

-Sherbert McGee  

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Cherry Asterisk

In her famously prosperous, antique-discovering escapades, my friend Doreen came across this button not very long ago and sold it to me through her shop of vintage finds.* Aside from its obvious red aspect, there's a hint of swirling in the Bakelite with a few strands of butterscotch that nearly escaped my eye upon first inspection. Shape-wise, this button is reminiscent of a cog, but I like to think of it as a big cherry asterisk.

*Visit Doreen's online store

-Sherbert McGee