Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Three Strong Women

~ Woman with Swirling Hair~
~Winter ~ ~Minerva~

These women all deserve a better photograph!

All three are made with brass. "Woman with Swirling Hair" is one piece. "Winter" is one piece construction with silver gilt. "Minerva" is two piece openwork (pierced) construction, brass over silver metal. They are part of my personal collection. Click on the photo and look at their faces: These women know secrets! I'll post individual photos as soon as I learn how to better photograph them.

Image and Text © 2009 Anne AKA Once Upon A Button


  1. I love it! You have inspired me to want to collect buttons. I'd love to know the history behind this beautiful trio, like who made them. Thanks, Annie. This is great.

  2. Hi Julie, Though many manufacturers are known, it's really difficult to determine who designed most picture buttons. From the button books I own, and the sources I've accessed, much is known about the materials, and even the original source sometimes of the design (if the subject of the button is copied and based on a known piece of art or illustration), but very little seems to be known about the artists who designed the buttons and created the original molds. They should all be credited as amazing artists and bas relief sculptors!

    To give you some idea of price, I paid a little over $11.00 for "Winter" when I was still an early collector, and I was afraid to pay so much, but I'm glad I did. I've rarely seen another example of this button, and never in as good a condition, or at such a low price.

    I paid about $6.00 for "Minerva." She was a lucky find, in perfect shape, after a little buffing with a soft cloth.

    There was a dealer who had several of the "Woman with Swirling Hair" and she sold them one at a time, so you never knew if they'd appear again. I don't know her source, but she may still have more. Over the space of a year, I kept letting them go, because they are a Size Medium, and I didn't think I should pay more than their average selling price of $20 to $22 dollars. I finally got one for about $17, and I loved it so much, months later, I bought a second one for a little less, when, by a fluke, no one else bid on it. Each of the two has its own, slightly different, wonderful one hundred year old patina.

    "Minerva" is probably circa 1880s. "Winter" may be Art Nouvea, c1900 to 1910. "Woman with Swirling Hair is also Art Nouvea. I’ll have to research my books and “brush up” on my button knowledge!

    Amazing buttons can be found for anywhere from 50 cents to $6, many averaging 1 to 3 dollars. Entire groups of black glass, circa 1880s geometrics or florals, vegetable ivory, or pewter buttons can be found for $5 to $6, and often a whole card of about twenty to thirty pictorials for as little as ten to twenty dollars.

    When I spend too much on a particular button, I mentally compare it to the price of a piece of jewelry to decide if it's something I want to own and admire. (I don't agree with the idea of turning buttons into jewelry, however, unless the shank of the button can be left intact, and the button remains a button.)


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