Friday, June 30, 2017

Sensationally Fishy


Fishing for old buttons can result in a lot of interesting discoveries, but not much tops this Bakelite tour de force, which appears to be leaping out of the sea. Splashy and dramatic, I classify this as a flamboyant koi carp with its scaly flourishes and writhing details. Talk about fancy craftsmanship! The color of the Bakelite is creamed corn and the bulging eye is made of glass. Truly a showstopper of style, what we have here is less a button than a work of art. Owing to its rareness, value and fragility, I keep this button in its own silk-lined box. Call me a weirdo, but I am smitten with this fish!

And this ends my week of oceanic-themed buttons.

-Sherbert McGee    

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Multicolored Love Boats


Not your everyday buttons, I feel lucky to have this particular set as I believe they are quite hard to come by. Made of apple juice Bakelite, this breezy trio of seafaring vessels each encases a colored square for an art deco effect that's quite stately. Accentuated with carved details, the shapely sails on these boats make for a windswept fleet. Grouped together, these buttons have the scenic look of a yachting tournament viewed through an olden-day spyglass. circa 1930.

-Sherbert McGee

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Anchor & Shell


Spotlighting emblems of the sea this week, here's a pair of bright cherry-red buttons in the shape of an anchor and a seashell. The anchor has the animated curves of a model sailor's tattoo while the shell possesses a realistic, ridged texture. Both tested positive for Bakelite. Now while we're on the subject of nautical-themed buttons, here's a line from one of my favorite poems by e.e. cummings:   

for whatever we lose (like a you or a me)
it's always ourselves we find in the sea

Until the seas run dry,
-Sherbert McGee

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Windowed Button with Sailboat


Back in February of this year I posted a "windowed button" (featuring a horse) with the promise of more buttons like this to come. Here's another variety with a smooth-sailing sailboatsighted on a shiny blue tide. The image of the serenely passing boat is nestled under a domed piece of glass and all is mounted on a cream tone of Bakelite. I call these windowed buttons because of the way the image is framed picturesquely as if looking out of a window. In this case, the sailboat comes into view like a dreamy vision on a summery seascape. It's a postcard from the past and a button in one.

-Sherbert McGee    

Monday, June 26, 2017

Beached Bakelite


Greetings, beachcombers! I said it was coming and here it is: Starting today, I'm posting a full week of Bakelite buttons that pertain to the ocean as a theme. Washed ashore for your inspection, here are two scallops made of creamed corn and dark chocolate Bakelite with a bright green flounder between them. The fish retains its painted-on stripes that may or may not go back to its origins in the 1920's. Stay poised for more oceanic Bakelite in the days ahead...

-Sherbert McGee

Friday, June 23, 2017

Dick Tracy!


Watch out, "Big Boy" Caprice! Here's what I've nicknamed my "Dick Tracy" button. A creamed corn square on a cherry red square, this art deco upholder-of-the-law is cleaning the streets (and wooing Tess Truehart) in all-out style. Named after one of my favorite movies of all time, the straightforward design on this button smacks of the film's visual palette, striking graphics and gorgeously vivid, comic strip flare. Directed by Warren Beatty (and starring Beatty as well), Dick Tracy was nominated for seven Academy Awards in 1990. Adding a top-notch musical element to the picture, Stephen Sondheim wrote five songs for the filmeach of them as grandly ambitious and clever as his Broadway knockouts. As a fanatical teenager, I watched the movie five times in theaters and still swoon at this candy-coated gem of big and boldly distinctive cinematography. One final note: Chester Gould created the Dick Tracy comic strip in 1931 and this Bakelite button might go back that far as well.

-Sherbert McGee     

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Little Rootbeer Toe


For ages now I've had this stubby button in my collection and I can't remember where I picked it up. A molasses-hued chunk of sweet Bakelite capped at both ends with brass pins, if this button were a Native American Indian, he would be named Little Rootbeer Toe. For a long time I've hoped to find a matching companion for this lonely guy, but I'm starting to think he's the only one of his kind in the world.

-Sherbert McGee

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Peanut Butter Mudslide


Back during its manufacture in the 1930's or early 40's, there must've been a strident buzz in the factory when industrial tools came down on this button made of brownish-moss Bakelite. The button appears to be in the midst of a mudslide! My friend Doreen compares the central ooze to a dramatic swipe across peanut butter as if someone literally slicked their finger through this messy marvel. To me, this button is an aerial view of a rapid flood wending its way through a jinxed canyon. However you look at it, there's a smeary brilliance depicted in this button's super-carved extravagance.  

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


-Sherbert McGee    

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Summertime Swirl


Expressing a wavy hydraulic effect, here's a free-flowing button made of apple juice Bakelite that's got a swirled design stemming out from under a metal cap. I love the way carved lines on clear Bakelite can give the impression of a moving rippleor in this case, a hypnotic whirlpool. Today's the first day of summer and if I could swim in a button I'd dive head-first into this one for sure. 

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


-Sherbert McGee

Monday, June 19, 2017

Bits of Butterscotch


Talk about a gold rush! Here's a smattering of Bakelite buttons, as small as they come, in the sunny color known as butterscotch. Centered in this photo, the smoothest of these babies shines with a true golden-honey tone. My favorite is the gear at the bottom with its nubby cogs. For more of these itty-bitty buttons, I've got a surprise coming: Next month I'll be posting a full week of "Bakelite bits!"

-Sherbert McGee      

Friday, June 16, 2017

Stones of Armageddon


Just look at this mighty pair of coat buttons from the 1930's. Cavernous gouges were made in the Bakelite to form sunken voids that resemble meteor craters. Adding to the effect, carved lines give the appearance of a violent crash as if this matching set survived a cataclysmic explosion. I love the spacey drama of these battered rocks. The color is not black, but the darkest of browns: nicknamed espresso by Bakelite fanatics. Get out of these buttons way. They look ready to summon the Gods. 

-Sherbert McGee

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Debonair Square


What you see here is my idea of a picture-perfect button. This handsome zinger has everything: deco-era carvings enriching a plump square in a pristine tone of creamed-corn Bakelite. The ivory coloring and symmetrical engravings make for one debonair dude. With hardly a trace of scuffing and no flaws or stains, I have to wonder if this button was owned by the suavest popinjay in all of 1927. Whatever the case, it's a swell hunk of classy plastic.

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


-Sherbert McGee

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Bakelite: AJ and Rootbeer


You probably wouldn't combine apple juice and rootbeer when it comes to beverages, but in the way of Bakelite buttons...why not? Here's a bright mound of rootbeer hovering beautifully in a reflective pool of apple juice, not blended, but definitely situated together effectively. A large button with loads of shine-power, this lovely looker is a bracing drink for the eyes.

-Sherbert McGee

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Toggle Tuesday: Triple Notched


My Internal Bakelite Detector (IBD) is typically pretty spot on when I visit antique shops or rummage through vintage clutter in flea markets and heirloom bazaars. That being the case, when I first saw this oblong treasure in a basket full of ragtag odds and ends, I knew right away that it was Bakelite. Yet what surprised me was that this prime slab of greenery isn't an olden-day pin for a lady's blouse. In fact, it's a toggle button featuring three evenly rendered notches that almost have the look of a boy scout's handiwork on a wooden stick. By the estimation of the antique shopkeeper who sold me this lucky toggle, it probably dates back to the early 1920's. Very cool.

-Sherbert McGee   

Monday, June 12, 2017

Eye of Eyes


Here's a jet-black button that must've been fun to design. The eye-shaped middle section dips inwards as if custom-made for gliding one's thumb into the sculpted basin. Inside the eye are 13 chiseled spots that remind me of smaller eyesall peeping out of the larger eyeball. The carved lines traveling to the edge of this button are possibly eyelashes. Tested as Bakelite, circa 1935.

-Sherbert McGee

Friday, June 9, 2017

The Showgirl


Like a center-stage diva behind a veil of ostrich feathers, here's a button that knows how to put on a show. Made of Bakelite in a deeply saturated tone of red, this lovely lady is a major head-turner and a gorgeous victory of the art deco style. A windswept display of cherry fronds are perfectly sculpted here for a look that's wildly chic and brightly theatrical. Welcome to the Moulin Rouge circa 1929.

-Sherbert McGee  

Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Brain


Dissect this! It's a button in the shape of a brain! When my friend Doreen told me she'd found the "smartest" button of all time, I had no idea what to expect. Made from a thick chunk of apple juice Bakelite, it truly does appear to be a transparent cerebrumreplete with two lobes and a touch of patina, which accentuates the cerebral texture. If I didn't know any better, I'd think this brain was having dirty thoughts. 

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


-Sherbert McGee   

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Bronze Gardenias


Newly acquired, here's a trio of Bakelite buttons in a scarcely seen color that rides the line between dark orange and bronze. Animated and deeply cut/carved, these lively blossoms almost appear to be dancing. The lady who sold me these buttons found them years ago at an estate sale with other fashionable relics believed to go back to the early 1930's. 

-Sherbert McGee

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Square Chameleon


This double-cut button made of bright olive-green Bakelite reminds me of a compass with its circular midsection hovering inside of a stylized frame. A large button that might've adorned a winter jacket in the 1920's, the edges are turning orange due to the oxidation of the aged Bakelite. Given another decade, this button will be 100 years old and I wonder if it will continue to change color.

Time will tell...

-Sherbert McGee

Monday, June 5, 2017

Burgundy and Maroon


Some people say cranberry and some people call these wine-colored buttons. Others will say they are scarlet or crimson or brick-red, if not blood-red or Spanish raspberry. There's a whole slew of hues when it comes to Bakelite buttons in these dark reddish colors. I'm calling them burgundy and maroon, but which is which? Both factory-pressed, the round one has a flower-shaped hollow while the octagon sports an upraised spiderweb design. These buttons go back to the 1930's. In their prime, I'll bet that each of them matched a snappy dresser's penny loafers.

-Sherbert McGee

Friday, June 2, 2017

Rootbeer Jawbreaker


Ouch! This major jawbreaker button in rootbeer Bakelite is absolutely humongous. I only have a few "ball buttons" in my collection that measure one inch across and this is one of them. Imagine a row of these bad boys running down a fur coat or a glitzy kimono. Truly sizable, this hardwearing globe sports a chiseled flower design that's loaded with patina. Even so, nothing is hindering this button's olden-day shine. Straight out of the 1920's.

-Sherbert McGee 

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Cream Tangerine!


The "White Album" is definitely my favorite studio LP by The Beatles and one of my best-loved songs on that album is Savoy Truffleby George Harrison. The catchy tune kicks off with George crooning the words "Cream Tangerine!" before he lists a spectrum of sugary confections. Anyway, that's what these buttons remind me of: cream tangerine candies. I flipped one of them over since its easier to see the marbleized swirl of cream-colored streaks running through the bright orange Bakelite. On that note, these buttons glow like psychedelic jellybeans.

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


-Sherbert McGee