Washington Evening Journal

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Neighbors Growing Together | Nov 23, 2017

Button display at library will reach back in history and toward present day

By Linda Wenger | Mar 19, 2014
Photo by: Journal file photo Shown here are two ladies working at the grinding machine at the old American Pearl Button Factory. Pearl buttons were cut from oyster or mussel shells, the blanks were then ground and polished, and holes drilled in the blanks. Frank Stewart and Fred Giesler organized the factory in 1908. In 1936 the payroll included 230 workers. It closed after World War II when plastic replaced pearl buttons.

Button, button, who knows about buttons?

Find out from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Thursday, March 20, at the Washington Public Library.

The Southeast Button Club invites the community to its Button Road Show where you can bring your own buttons and find out more about them.

Sandy Weller of Washington has been collecting buttons for several years, and she will be one of the club members at the library.

The history of buttons includes how King Louis XIV caused an economic disaster for France in the 1600s because of his extravagant button addiction. A button saved the life of President Andrew Jackson when he was shot at during a duel. Famous button collectors include Charles DeGaulle of France and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

Weller said she started collecting buttons accidently when she needed to research a program for Chilcote Questers. She was invited to go to an Iowa State Button Show in Marshalltown in 1991.

“As I walked into the showroom, I could hardly believe my eyes,” she said. “There were buttons of every type and description: English Wedgwood, Japanese Satsuma, French enamels, and German glass. I was astounded by all the gorgeous buttons. It was like going to an antique show, except in miniature. I was hooked.”

Learn more about this fascinating topic Thursday afternoon at the library — and bring your own buttons.

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