Buttons, Buttons, Buttons
Most of Canada and North America are under a Shelter in Place mode which means we are concerned with the COVID-19 pandemic. The Ottawa Valley Button Club members thought it would be fun and educational to play with our buttons and this is what we have planned. Each day one member will volunteer to find a button in his/her collection and present it - with description. Members are asked to hunt for one of their own buttons to add to the thread. (Send your submission to [email@example.com] At the end of the day, they will be added to our webpage.
Email Susie Smith with a date that you would like to volunteer.
Monday, March 30 2020
Sue Farrah presents: ( More on Ottawa's History Through Buttons )
The image below shows The 2 macs Tailoring Business on the right hand side of the photo . It corresponds with the buttons of the same name subitted by our group.
Much has been written about this Ottawa business including some of their history, signage and advertisements on this site https://www.historynerd.ca/2016/07/05/the-busiest-corner-on-the-busiest-street/
Image: LAC Topley Series SE Accession 1936-270 Box 00594F Item 572.
J.R. McNeil was another Ottawa Tailoring Business located at 203 Sparks Street. You can see a photo of the man himself and read about his connection to the Ottawa baseball team and the tartan fabric they wore. Spoiler alert...it is McNeil tartan . http://baseballresearcher.blogspot.com/2012/11/bagpipes-and-baseball-or-clash-of.html
Below are some more of the buttons from Ottawa's past: (Be sure to scroll down this page to see other Workbuttons from Ottawa and from Canada.
Sunday, March 29, 2020
Evelyn Davies presents:
These are buckles with prongs. The most prongs I have seen on a buckle is 4. I have not found one of those that I like in my price range. Maybe the next time I go to National.
The top buckle with the long prong is stamped steel. The black one is not black glass it is riveted steel with black lacquer finish. The next is shell with a silver rim. The next brass buckle has a prong but it does not move and the last one even though it looks like a buckle is actually a brooch.
Saturday, March 28, 2020
Sue Dickout Presentation: One of the first kinds of buttons that ever intrigued me was blown glass buttons. How could a glass blower make something so tiny? Okay, I didn’t understand until later that they were blown into moulds, but still. And they were made in a huge variety of sizes, colours, shapes and textures. How about the realistic orange? The giant black glass spindle? Or the clear glass with red, white and blue dots laid on? Do you have a favourite?
Marion Warburton added: Love the blown glass buttons, especially the pebbly one and the orange! I don't have anything fancy just these 2 on a little bit of wedding dress from an unknown source (I mean not family). Sue, very happy to see your lovely steels, the only one I've seen before is the fruit one.
I'm so glad you started this button exchange, as it's something real to focus on in the midst of all this madness. Thanks and all the best,
Evelyn Davies added:
Here are my steel and blown glass that are dimis. The black glass blown faceted is a large medium. Sorry for the scanner glare and lint.
Sue Farrah added:
Sue D. has helped me to know that this is ball waistcoat button. These buttons are gorgeous. I would be interested to see what examples everyone has in their collection. Here is what Sue has told me.... in Czechoslovakia, plate and loop shanks for glass buttons were developed and first came into use in 1860. Glass ball waistcoat buttons continued to be made until WWI. Waistcoats were worn throughout that period. I believe different glass styles and the elongated shank went in and out of fashion and probably were more popular in some regions than others. So it’s impossible to be precise. But I think that the peak period was 1870 or 1880 until 1910. Coloured glass (instead of black) was more popular after about 1880.
Friday, March 27, 2020
Marion Warburton presents:
My button for today is an early 1800s steel, probably used on men's coats/waistcoats. They're usually quite flat, as shown, and they have a distinctive shank, like a cut-off pig's tail, which is brazed to the back. The back shows where it was roughed up in the centre to facilitate the brazing, and then the sides were smoothed down.
The fronts are often blued, tinted or gilt, and the surface design can be stamped, cast or engine turned.
I'd love to see others if anyone has them.
Susie added: Hey, I have one of those buttons in Black Glass - gold leaves and blue back ground.
Sue Dickout added: I was thrilled to see Marion’s steels yesterday — my favourites! Here are four pictorial flat steels. From left to right, mistletoe, a crazy button featuring engraved dragon, lion, sword and swan, a fable button of the fox and crow, and a fruit.
Thursday, March 26, 2020
Diane Close presents:
I think they are 1950's . I would like to know how many colours they were made in?
Susie S. added: Hey, I found my tulip button, I think it is the only one I have. It is extruded celluloid. Only problem it is dark brown and not easy to photograph.
Wednesday, March 25, 2020
Micheline Gravel presents:
My latest button quest is finding buttons depicting the fictional character of Pinocchio. The original story was written in 1883 by Italian author, humorist, and journalist Carlo Collodi. The story was made popular by American Walt Disney in 1940 in an animated film.
Wanting to become human, this wooden marionette struggles through several episodes and encounters with a variety of characters and challenging situations, and has many lessons to learn throughout. When stressed or feeling pressured, he lies, but can’t get away with it because his nose grows every time.
The realistic button is made of casein, and I believe it was made in Italy in the 1930s or 40s. It measures 1 inch at widest point.
The second button is molded and gilded green glass… intended as a kiddie button from the 1940s I believe. It measures 9/16” in diameter.
I have been searching for more depictions of Pinocchio buttons, but these are elusive! I am surprised by that because the character is so old! If you have one, I would love to see it!
Tuesday, March 24, 2020
Sue Dickout presented:
Here are two unusual buttons. The first reminds me of spring. It is clear glass, moulded back and front, with a black glass centre. It is back painted with metallic gold paint, and is about 3/4”.
The final two pictures are of another old one. This is a bright green transparent enamel over copper. The cut steels are attached to a frame which is riveted through the copper. Very unusual.
Susie Smith added: Hey, what a great idea considering we have snow all day yesterday and over night... How about these wooden buttons with spring birds - bought at our local dollar store. They are made of wood and distributed by Ottawa's Multi-Craft company. We have a lovely cardinal in the garden today.
Diane Close added a great photo which we will post on Thursday, March 26. A great quest! Stay tuned...
Monday, March 23, 2020
Sue Farrah presents:
Another connection to the Canadian transportation system.
The Toronto Railway Company (TRC) was the operator of the streetcar system in Toronto between 1891 and 1921. It electrified the horsecar system it inherited from the previous operator.
"On August 15, 1892, the TRC became the second operator of horseless streetcars in the Toronto area, the first being the Metropolitan Street Railway which electrified its horsecar line along Yonge Street within the Town of North Toronto on September 1, 1890." (Wiki)
More info and a colouredmap can be found here http://oldtorontomaps.blogspot.com/2013/01/1892-toronto-street-railway-lines.html
Sunday, March 22, 2020
Arilla Hostetter Presents:
1940 Canada orders in Council give a clue to Canadian button history.
Oskar Vogl and Arnost Polak were skilled buttons workers who applied to Canada’s Privy Council in April 1940 to be admitted to Canada to work for the newly established Canada Wooden Toy and Button Company of Owen Sound. It was recommended that they be admitted. That was interesting to see but then photos of made in Canada wooden buttons lent to the Ottawa Valley Button Club conference of 2017 by Louise Daigneault came to my mind. Here’s the mystery. Could they be related? Any way to tell? It is these puzzles that keep us all on the button hunt.
Sue Dickout added: It looks as if the logo on your cards may be the George Schnarr Perfection on a maple leaf logo. George Schnarr was a manufacturer, importer and retailer in Kitchener, ON They were in business for many years and you can find many different types of buttons on their cards.
Saturday, March 21, 2020
Presenter: Sue Dickout
The first one is a late 18th century enamel. The enamel pierreries are set in paillons which are formed from crinkled gold foil. It is 35 mm across. Interestingly, it appears quite domed in the photo, but it is just slightly domed. The pierreries around the edges are quite elongated ovals to give the domed impression. A trompe-l’oeil enamel button!
The second button is made of cut steels riveted to a brass frame. There are turquoise glass pieces in sawtooth settings. This button is 35 mm.
Do you have any of these in your collection?
Susie Smith added: Sorry, can't decided if these are the same.. but they are five of my favourite tiny buttons. One is backmarked Paris.
Joanne Irons added: Love Sue's buttons they really are showy. I don't have steel and turquoise but I do have silver and turquoise. I love the southwest combo of the silver and blue stone.
Friday, March 20 2020
Presenter: Joanne Irons: Let's get started enjoying our buttons.
Because I am a fan of work buttons I thought I could start with two Ottawa buttons.
First is The 2 Mac's. Short for MacKay & McClenaghan's. Their angle was Fine Tailoring, Cheap: “If you want anything that requires skill and taste
A DRESS SUITE
LIVERY SUITE MILITARY SUIT
SNOW SHOE COSTUME
RIDING PANTS & cc., & C,
THE 2 MAC'S ARE THE PEOPLE: 257 Wellington Street, Opposite the Bank Note Company...OTTAWA
This was from an 1891/92 City Directory:
The 2nd Work/tailor button that I have is J.R.McNeil, Ottawa
What do you know about this company?
What other work/tailor buttons do you have in your collections from Ottawa?... Have FUN and Button On
Arielle Hostetter added: Buttons used on work clothes are great. They give so much information on time and place. Don’t think that the new LRT (Light Rail Transit) uniform buttons, if they have any, are anywhere near as nice.
Arielle provided the button for the Ottawa Electric Railway and then added three photographs.
Evelyn Davies added:
Here are the ones that I could find:
A.M. Halliday Prescot , C.M. Holbrock Ottawa, T.E. Freeland Renfrew, Carroll &Co. Kingston Ont. They are all vegetable ivory.
I have not researched any of these.
The Jackson & Hall! button does not have a place name but is the only button of this type that I have that is horn.
Marion Warburton added: I checked my work buttons just in case, being in Toronto, and found ones from Belleville, Hespeler, Montreal, Lindsay,Port Hope, etc., etc., but only one from Ottawa, as shown. Don't know anything about it.
The first group are metal, as follows:
Smith & Co. Montreal
A. Zimmerman Hamilton
J.W. Fralick Picton
C. Livingston & Bro. Kingston
The next is VI.
Budge Bros. Port Hope
The last has "Ont" so we know they're local. All the others could be from another state or province.