Button, button . . .

My aunt had the buttons! I’ve written about my Aunt Ruth and her buttons here and in my book. She inspired me to start my own collection when I was a teenager. I kept them in a small box inside my grandparents’ secretary desk.

I visited my cousin recently and we talked about his mother’s vast button collection. He asked me if I wanted some–he had three jars full of her pins and buttons!  I was happy to take one jar home. I had no idea what I would find, but was eager to see what treasures were inside the big jar of buttons.


So I dumped them all out on my dining room table and took about half an hour to sort through them all. What an impressive collection!

The accompanying pictures are only the tip of the iceberg, but I wanted to share some of my favorites, sorted into some loosely defined (by me) categories.

We have the political and the presidential (and I can only imagine which ones she might be wearing today), going way back to Roosevelt. Where else will you see Pat Paulsen, Dizzy Gillespie, Allen Ginsberg, and Snoopy alongside some more familiar names? Just a small example of this category!


Some of the buttons fall under the category of miscellaneous. I had a few of these myself. Not sure why the poor penguin is singled out here.


And then there is the “not sure how to categorize” category. This is just a small sample of buttons from all corners: including music, protest marches and boycotts, and anti-war demonstrations. I admit that there are some extremely unlikely bedfellows in this group. Again, just a small representation of this category. My aunt went to a lot of protest marches and participated in many boycotts, and supported the unions.


Here I am, wearing a few of my buttons during the kids’ Halloween parade. Sadly, they are mostly too small to read. Our blue house is in the background here. Baby on board is turning thirty this year.

button post

Caitlin borrowed some of my buttons for her hippie Halloween costume. We are both wearing the “Love is Lovely/ War is Ugly button in these pictures. The tree house is just visible in the upper right corner, with its rainbow windsock fluttering in the breeze.


I admit, I had to look him up. Don’t know the occasion when my aunt might have worn these. I can only imagine. . .

bruce conner

And this last one: as a message of the times–even these times–when doves cry.


4 Responses to Button, button . . .

  1. What an incredible collection! Nick Daawes, one of the founding appraisers of Antiques Roadshow just started blogging for me on 1010ParkPlace. You should get the other two jars and take them to a Roadshow taping. I bet they’re more valuable than you might think. Brenda

  2. Let me know if you would consider selling the Bruce Conner buttons! Thanks! Emily

  3. Jon says:

    How cool is that, For one I can “dig it” as I also collect pinback buttons with my main focus on Vietnam era protest/march buttons, Several of my buttons are posted on collectorsweekly > https://www.collectorsweekly.com/user/PoliticalPinbacks/posts
    they also did a feature story about them called “pushing buttons” >
    Some buttons do sell for large amounts, the highest price for one button (so far) was $31,500 (1920 Cox – Roosevelt 50 made and 7 known to exist with a $100,000 reward for a undiscovered example) albeit most bring from $10 to $500 you never know what could be found in a jar.

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