Monday, May 21, 2012

A Cigar Box Full Of Buttons


Last Friday morning we explored a portion of the Tennessee Highway 52 Yard Sale near Celina. The weather was perfect. My first purchase was a cigar box full of old buttons. There was no price tag. When I asked, the man told me $10 so I offered him $5. He said they were worth $20 so I turned to put it back on the table. He took the five dollar bill and I had a heavy box of odd buttons.
I was hoping to find something exciting hidden at the bottom of the box, like a rare gold coin or a diamond ring. When we got back to the campground, I dumped the entire box on the picnic table to sort through my treasures. Finds include two little metal brooches with a big glass stone (clearly not a diamond), a fake pearl hatpin, snaps, straight pins and a 1940 Willkie campaign pin. We looked that up online to see it's selling for about $10.
The treasures are the buttons. What a variety of sizes, colors and textures! Most appeared to be from the 1940's and 50's, some possibly older. There are plastic, mother of pearl, glass and even some made of celluloid and bakelite. A few were strung together in sets on heavy cotton thread. None were on button cards, so I believe most were clipped off worn clothing or left over from a project.
I can picture the large art deco ones on ladies suits. Eighteen tiny oval cobalt blue buttons must have been on a delicate floaty dress. Utilitarian white or black half inch shirt buttons lined up down the front of a housedress or man's work shirt.
Looking at the array spread on the table got me to thinking. Was the woman who collected these from Tennessee? Did she live her life in the farmhouse where I bought these? Did she make quilts too? Of course, the buttons could have come from any flea market or estate sale, but they had to collected by a lady who sewed.
Many years from now, someone will buy boxes of fabric and sewing supplies from my estate sale. She'll find a huge collection of old patterns and ancient buttons from my grandmother, mother and from yard sales. She may wonder about me, what I sewed, how I got all this stuff. Maybe I should leave her my journals, a link to my blog, or a note in a cigar box full of buttons.
"Live life:  eat chocolate.  go to yard sales.  be your own woman." -- Anonymous