Friday, March 31, 2017

The Steampunk


Steampunk by definition is "a style of design and fashion that combines historical elements with anachronistic technologies inspired by science fiction and steam-powered machinery." The first time I saw this button I thought of the steampunk style. With its exaggerated web of metal frillery, the escutcheon could be right out of a film about time travel by Terry Gilliam. Lampooning the lavish flair of art nouveau, the brass shield might also be the logo for a newfangled Industrial Revolution set in an old-fashioned future. Most amazingly, the black Bakelite at the base of this ornate mishmash actually secures its own relevance with deep-cut grooves and a hypnotic luster. Needless to say, this button pushes all of my imagination buttons. Probably made in the early 1920's.

Visit Doreen's online store 
Click here: BUTTONS FROM THE ATTIC


-Sherbert McGee

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Diagonal Dude


My first thought when I laid eyes on this button is that it would have made a really cool cufflink. Alas, this is definitely a button. The make is Bakelite in the color known as rootbeer, which is a nickname for faux tortoise. It's an overcast day today, but the lighting outside is just enough to expose the dark swirls that give this otherwise plain button a look of stormy intensity. 

Visit Doreen's online store 
Click here: BUTTONS FROM THE ATTIC


-Sherbert McGee

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Mixed Greens


Feast your eyes on a Bakelite salad! Here's a handful of eclectic green buttons that I've thrown together for today's blog post. The row of bead-size buttons at the top is a neat little trio in hunter green. The flower at the bottom is an army green or moss-tone button. Most splendiferous of all is the toggle in the middle with its length of yellow swirls in a color that I'd say is close to avocado. These buttons probably hark back to the 1940's if not earlier.

-Sherbert McGee

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Pressed for Details in Brown


Earlier this year I purchased some emerald green buttons (Bakelite, of course) and the lady who sold them to me insisted on throwing in these pressed brown dandiesfor free. What the heck? Notwithstanding the fact that they are at least 80 years old, these espresso twins retain a flawless shine and not a scuff in sight. They are Bakelite, probably made during the Great Depression.

-Sherbert McGee

Monday, March 27, 2017

Embroidered Apple Juice


Last month I purchased this large Bakelite button from my friend, Doreen and I haven't been able to take my eyes off of it. Bright and softly elegant, it's the prettiest apple juice button I've seen in ages. The carved design of outer semicircles reminds me of the embroidered edging on a lace ribbon. The apple juice is a diluted hue, endowing this button with the feel of a fading daydreamcirca 1930.

Visit Doreen's online store 
Click here: BUTTONS FROM THE ATTIC


-Sherbert McGee

Friday, March 24, 2017

Epic Cherry Splash


More than two weeks have gone by since I've spotlighted a truly red button and the reason I've been holding back is all because of this mega beauty in explosive cherry Bakelite. So, following a deliberate suspension of reds...here she is! Lusciously contoured with deep curves and petal-like folds, the Art Deco style here adds up to a hunk of ruby opulence from the heights of 1920's excess. Chances are, I'll take this vibrant jewel to the grave and have it placed on a small pedestal in my coffin. A button this rare and rousing is a token of joie de vivre. A glorious knockout!

-Sherbert McGee 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Feathered Find


After finding this last year during one of her famous quests for old buttons, my friend Doreen passed this button along to me and here it issitting pretty with its buttery complexion and art deco charm. Made of creamed corn Bakelite, the button is "pressed" with a feather design that reminds me of a scribe's fancy swan quill pen if not a barmaid's hair ornament. As fetching a pressed button as I've ever seen.

Visit Doreen's online store 
Click here: BUTTONS FROM THE ATTIC


-Sherbert McGee 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Celluloid on Bakelite


Talk about a button with a flipside! From the top view, this dual oddity sports a shimmery slab of strange plastic. My friend Doreen helped me identify the material as a "pearlized sheet celluloid embellishment." The embellishment sits on a smooth base of Kelly green Bakelite. Although the wavy effect of the celluloid gives this button an eye-catchingly abstract feature, it's the Bakelite underside that wins my love. Big surprise there, right?

PLASTIC FUSIONS: Next month I'm going to post a full week of rare and peculiar buttons made of Bakelite, which were factory-enhanced with non-Bakelite plastics. Consider today's post a preview for this pending week of vintage plastic combos. Stay tuned...

-Sherbert McGee     

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Orangey Snippets


Poured from a jar of buttons that are part of my junk stock, I keep these minor treasures separate from my main collection since they're on the flimsy side and don't excite me too much. Color-wise, the art deco hexagons ride the line between orange and butterscotch, but the littler pair is a true tangerine. These buttons lack the appeal of some of my more sensational finds, but they've tested positive for Bakeliteso what's not to love?

-Sherbert McGee 

Monday, March 20, 2017

Bear Traps


Last year on the first day of spring I posted 6 buttons in the shapes of bears. Sticking with the bear theme a year later, today is the first day of spring and I'm ushering in the season with this set of 4 buttons that remind me of bear traps. These Bakelite wedges are jaggedly heavy with deep notches set on both sides of chocolate Bakelite and a stripe of rootbeer sandwiched in the middle sections.
Come to think of it, the man who sold me these buttons was a rather bearlike creature himself. The gruff character got annoyed with me at an antique shop in Mount Kisco, New York when I asked him if these buttons were tested Bakelite. "Sure they're tested!" the old grouch snarled. "I smelled them myself!" Needless to say, his sniff test was accurate. These bear traps are true Bakelite, circa 1929.

-Sherbert McGee

Friday, March 17, 2017

Creamed Corn Clovers


Celebrating all things Irish (including my own personal heritage), here we have a couple of clover buttons in creamed corn Bakelite. Going back to the 1920's, these bad boys have been roughed up over the years and now bear all the nicks and scuffs commensurate with age. Perhaps the original wearer of these old shamrocks was involved in some pretty savage fisticuffs? On that note, here's a limerick that I wrote especially for the fighting Irish:

There once was a fight between twins
Whose bodies were joined at the chins.
When one shot his foe down, he felt himself go down
And likewise in war, no one wins!

Happy Saint Patrick's Day,
-Sherbert McGee 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Apple Juice Extravaganza


Want to see a Bakelite button that has it all? Look no further. From top to bottom, here's an apple juice button that's carved, perforated, etched and scalloped. Showcasing every trick in the book, the excessive detail on this old baby pulls out all the stops with flowers, grooves and oodles of art deco vivacity. You don't find a button like this every day. From the 1920's.  

-Sherbert McGee

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Misty Licorice


Photography-wise, what did I do to cast this button in such an usual fog? I promise there isn't a lick of smog, fog, murk or mist in sight, but this Bakelite button appears to be emerging from a dramatic haze. Maybe it's a trick of the light? At any rate, this button possess a dark splendor with two layers of carvings that form an exotic rose in midnight blackreplete with a misty effect that I can't explain.

-Sherbert McGee

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Don't Drink the Bakelite!


Laboratory research, anyone? Here's a Bakelite button that looks like a scientific experiment with its green mass floating in what resembles a Petri dish. The section surrounding the green spot is apple juice in color, but there's a greenish tinge to it as if the green spot is being reflected. Studying this button, I'm reminded of undrinkable pond water that's rife with pollywog pee and who-knows-what. Anyway, don't we all love a button that smacks of infectious bog scum? 

-Sherbert McGee

Monday, March 13, 2017

Joya del Sol


This orange juice button looks like a candy-sized clump of sunshine, tastefully sculpted and shining with its carved notches and crisscross pattern. Since it reminds me of a topaz gemstone, I've named this button my Joya del Sol, which is Spanish for "jewel of the sun." 100% Bakelite, this pulp-swirled fireball equals a zesty gobstopper. circa 1930.

-Sherbert McGee

Saturday, March 11, 2017

The Pharaoh


Enter, the Pharaoh! Massive and majestic, this apple juice button is a major celebrity in my trove of handpicked Bakelite. Purchased by my friend, Doreen, at a button show several years ago, it then entered my collection and has kept my jaw permanently dropped ever since. Oblong and angular, the glass-like Bakelite is wrapped in gold-tone bands and etched with a cloud-shaped motif. There's nothing "Egyptian" about this button, but considering the royal superiority of this paragon's kingly aura, I call it the pharaoh...and  you should too.

Visit Doreen's online store  
Click here: BUTTONS FROM THE ATTIC


-Sherbert McGee  

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Wine Marigold


Exactly one year ago I posted a Bakelite button just like this one in black. This one is maroonish burgundy. Since I happen to have a couple more buttons like this (in other colors) maybe I'll start a tradition and make March 9th the day I spotlight these five-petaled flower buttons with their carved arrangement of nubby inner bits. Blooming with patina, these Bakelite blossoms will henceforth be referred to as annual specimens in my "marigold series." To be continued one year from today....

-Sherbert McGee

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Carved Pinwheel Button


Aside from the pinwheel carving, what I love most about this Bakelite button is the central portion in creamed corn that's surrounded by the outer chocolate section. Before this button was a button, it was a long cylinder that was diced into round tokens before being machine sculpted into this peppy marvel and other buttons just like it. A two-tone good-luck piece, this button is roughly 85 years old. 

-Sherbert McGee 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Toggle Tuesday: Emerald Bullets


For today's episode of "Toggle Tuesday" I'm posting this pristine trio of bullet-shaped buttons in a definitive tone of emerald green. Tidily designed and bursting with personality, each toggle is suited with raised bands and an old-timey style that hints at their Art Deco glory days. Not too surprisingly, these chunky delights tested positive for Bakelite. From the 1920's.

-Sherbert McGee

Monday, March 6, 2017

Bakelite vs. Fakelite


Listen up, vintage button fans! Things are about to get very intense. Today I'm addressing the need for greater discernment when it comes to identifying true Bakelite buttons in contrast to the endless varieties of "fakelite" that are floating around out there in the material world. The photo above shows a small handful of six plastic buttons from the 1920's-1960's. Three of these buttons were made during the earlier, interwar years and have tested positive for Bakelite. The other three buttons were made after the mid 1940's and are NOT Bakelite, but forms of deceptively comparable celluloid. By looking at this photo, can you weed out the fakelite and identify the real deals? Honestly, I had to test each of these buttons with Simichrome polish in order to make the distinction.

Buyers Beware: There's nothing wrong with a non-Bakelite button, but I get annoyed when I see buttons being sold deceptively as "French Bakelite" or "British Bakelite" as if a European pet name authenticates the substance of anything. These deceptive terms are fancy synonyms for genuine fakelite and nothing more. Bakelite is Bakelite if it tests positive for Bakeliteeven if it comes from London or Paris. Always test a button before trusting that its make is true Bakelite. The sea of old buttons is flooded with fakelite, many of which are quite unique and worth collecting. I'm a Bakelite snob, but whose to say celluloid buttons have no value? My advice is this: Develop an eye for real Bakelite and a nose for it too. Enjoy vintage buttons of all varieties and don't be duped. That is all.

-Sherbert McGee 


Friday, March 3, 2017

Oddity in Chocolate


Along came this weirdo one day and my Bakelite button collection got so much more interesting! Going around the surface of this turtle-like creation are 8 nubby blisters alternating between brass enhancements and carved bumps in the chocolate Bakelite. Some light etchings top off the middle area and that makes this one of my daffiest buttons alive. A true freak of vintage plastic, circa 1930.

-Sherbert McGee

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Slits and Smarts


Modern in the 1920's and still modern today, these handsome buttons exhibit a timeless style that combines astute minimalism with a clever design. Formed out of slightly domed Bakelite rectangles, a set of horizontal slits travel across the surface and go straight into the buttonholes. Jet-black and devilishly vogue, these intelligent buttons call out to the legendary art deco look of the Jazz Age.

-Sherbert McGee