I’ve received a few requests asking for ideas on how best to display hunt button collections, both large and small. So, here are a few suggestions. Many thanks to my collector friends and acquaintances that have supplied images. I will credit them with their respective photos.
Let’s start with the simplest and easiest-to-manage option for collections of all sizes: Glass covered display cases or jeweller’s boxes. These can be bought on the internet and you can buy inserts of different types and colours; perhaps red for foxhounds and green for hare hounds. The inserts can be hard-foam ‘box’ types, where the buttons are loose in their square, or (my preference) the soft foam ring pads that have seventy-two slits. This means the shanks of the buttons can sit nicely down inside.
Another very simple and effective way is the ‘Belt of Buttons’, as often favoured by hunt staff to show buttons from the packs for which they have worked over their career. You can use wire or ‘R’ clips to secure them at the back. There is a long-term collector that keeps her very large collection in this way.
Moving on to cards: Speaking personally, once my collection outgrew the space available for jeweller’s boxes, I moved onto using card. This method is perfect for a stable collection because you can lay them out alphabetically, and write in the details of each button. Most people that use card will thread wire or extra-long pipe cleaners through the shanks to secure them in place. However, I soon found that it becomes a nightmare if your collections is dynamic and always growing. To fit in one new acquisition – if you want to maintain the alphabetical order means moving everything along one space.
Taking the subject of cards, I must make special mention of my American and Canadian friends. The National Button Society in North America is well known for its conventions around the US and its annual National Convention. At these meetings prizes are awarded for themed cards of buttons of all types. Often there is a Hunting or Sporting theme and cards are made for these. Here are just two:
This prize-winning card was put together by Joanne Irons of Canada. It is her copyright and is reproduced with her permission.
So what do you do with your card after the show? Another prize winner from the US leads us onto the next method. Frame them up! Here we see a framed card produced by Stacey Gehrman of Oregon USA. Again, her copyright and reproduced with her permission.
Framing is a great idea because your hard won buttons don’t end up hidden away in a drawer. However, framing has its own issues. Mainly finding frames deep enough to accommodate buttons without i) the shanks poking out the back or ii) going to the trouble of finding shadow-box style frames. Here is another nicely framed collection, including some real rarities, owned and submitted by Brett Gillingham from the Isle of Wight.
This fine set of Essex Staghounds buttons was produced by the great-great-great granddaughter of Gilbert Alder. My thanks to Christine Jacobi of Wiltshire for letting me share her work.
I was very lucky the other day when I found two very smart frames in a charity shop (£1 each!) that have a 1cm reveal set in, so the buttons I frame up will sit nicely behind the glass without any problem. It’s worth looking out for these.
At the ‘top end’ of the framing idea I can show you a couple of superbly produced sets.
Firstly, this professionally framed set of Craven Harriers buttons from A. Collector in Jacksonville, Florida.
Secondly, courtesy of the National Museum of Wales (copyright) this set of John Jones (the Ynysfor Otter Hounds) silver buttons, with its silver plaque giving the details……..complete with typo!
Of course, for that very special set of 18th century silver buttons we all have knocking around! You could buy an empty jewellers case from the internet, and show them off.
For very large collections and/or travelling displays I have seen peg-board used. Ideal because the holes are pre-drilled and you can cut the board to any size you like.
You can even find transparent perspex; pre-drilled or D-I-Y. The best use I have seen of this method is when the collector wanted to show the backmarks of the buttons as well. The buttons were eventually fixed with R clips, but this photo shows the board prior to that to show the reverse of the buttons to best advantage.
Finally, for this blog. In the very rare case indeed that you find an empty (or part full) Pattern book bearing the names of hunt buttons past and present, you could – like an acquaintance of mine – slowly fill it back up. Ahh we can but dream. Of course, there is absolutely nothing stopping you from making your own!
As always, I hope you enjoyed this article and perhaps found a new way to display your buttons. If you use another method that I have not covered, please let me know.
‘Firebrand’Tags: Hunt Button Collecting