A digest of Buttons and Stories shared in June 2016:
1950s Buttons and their representaton in ads.
In the 1950-60’s Beutron expanded its operations overseas, including manufacturing in South Africa from 1963. Below are three sample cards from there.
Feves/King Cake Charms:
Feves (French for “bean”) are tiny figurines that are made to be put inside a “King’s Cake” for the “Epiphany” Holiday, which is celebrated every year on January 6th, the 12th day of Christmas. Tradition states that this is the day that the three wise men or “Three Kings” came to Bethlehem, to honor the birth of Christ. Traditionally it was a fava bean (Ed: known here as broad beans) that was placed inside the cake. Whoever finds the feve in his or her slice of cake, is King for the day. SInce it was good luck to get the feve in your cake – these little items were saved and treasured.
In the 1870s the bean was replaced with small porcelain figurines; good luck charms, religious figures, saints etc, and a collecting craze began! The oldest feves were porcelain . As the years sped by, designs became more elaborate. Different glazes were used. They were hand painted or gilded. Following WWI, due to supply shortages, plastic feves were made. Now this tradition of Feve production and collecting has been completely commercialized, and there is a vast assortment of porcelain, plastic and metal figures that are made. A lot of the newest feves are sold in series – more for collecting than for actually placing in cakes. Designs include everything from Harry Potter and Disney to the high fashion shoes and purses. Collecting Feves is very popular in France. The series are generally only produced for a single year.”
The Australian Duck and Fish:
Whilst some fashions disappear quickly, other examples such as a certain duck and fish button have been around since the late 1940’s, and are still being sold today!
The example I think is the oldest is on a “Jack and Jill” card by Rex. C.Norris. The card has a patent number from 1949 on it. Perhaps the design was sold to General Plastics.
The oldest example of the fish may be this example on an Embassy card that dates around 1947-1952.