A Few Points of Clarification:
I am nowhere NEAR being an "expert"
about Marion Weeber buttons and only have a few in my collection. However, I AM
totally head over heels when it comes to "primary source" information. As Joss
and Lannie each told me long ago, and I am totally paraphrasing here: "Put what
you learn out there, even if it isn't perfect. This will allow others to study
what you have found and to add and share their own knowledge/experience ---
permitting us all to move forward." Close enough Joss?!?!
Chances are that I have missed some information and/or confused something in spite of my BEST efforts. Please know that I am offering my notes as a "communal work in progress." Lastly, it was surprising to realize that many of the buttons that we attribute to Ms. Weeber apparently cannot be linked directly to her. She was extremely popular, as were the themes of her button sets, and we now understand that many other very talented artists created buttons that were quite similar to hers in style and design ("Weeber-like"). Personally, I think it would be wonderful to find out who those other artists were so that they could be recognized and appreciated too.
MARION WEEBER --- Notes from my Visit to the AIHA in 2007 and from Diane Shewchuk’s presentation at National in August, 2010
Information provided by Diane Shewchuk and the Albany Institute of History and Art
These notes were made by Katrinka Quirk, who has been known, on rare occasions (ha!), to “get things wrong” in spite of her best efforts, hence this disclaimer. ALSO, I AM SURE THAT OTHER ATTENDEES PICKED UP INFO THAT I MISSED. PLEASE ACCEPT THESE NOTES AS A “START” ~ It’s a process, and I would warmly welcome additions, clarification, etc. Diane did mention her intention to write a book down the road with a chapter devoted to buttons, but it seems to make sense to pass along what we learned from her talk now.
INTRODUCTION OF MS. SHEWCHUK:
“Ms. Shewchuk, tonight’s speaker, has worked as a curator, registrar and director in the museum field for more than twenty years. She received a Master of Arts Degree in Decorative Arts from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City and is currently Curator at the Columbia County Historical Society in Kinderhook, NY. Diane first became aware of Marion Weeber’s extraordinary talent while working as the Registrar at the Albany Institute of History and Art. Diane met Marion Weeber in 1994 when Ms. Weeber donated a large collection of jewelry and decorative arts to the Institute. A few years later, when the Institute planned an exhibition of her work, Ms. Weeber personally supervised every aspect of it (and Marion did not chose to include any of her button designs!). Upon Marion Weeber’s death in 2000, Diane and her colleagues, along with representatives from Cooper-Hewitt, the Museum of Modern Art and the New York State Museum were invited to Ms. Weeber’s apartment to select more objects for their respective institutions. Opening several boxes in one closet they discovered drawings for buttons and button sample boards. Oh to have been a fly on the wall for that, eh?!? Because Ms. Weeber was originally from Albany, Diane made a strong case that the button related items should be given to the Albany Institute of History and Art (three cards did end up at the Cooper-Hewitt, but Diane included them in her program), where Diane quickly had the entire collection rehoused in archival materials. It is our great fortune to be here this evening to be among the first in the button world to view this remarkable, historical find.”
Red type face indicates notes from my personal observations of the original cards several years ago.
Regular black type indicates notes from the Powerpoint program by Diane last August.
Marion Weeber made buttons EXCLUSIVELY for B.
Blumenthal and Co.
(La Mode) in NYC. Diane accessed documentation about Ms. Weeber’s button designs directly from the AIHA, the Cooper-Hewitt and from the rather limited Blumenthal archives.
All her buttons were made in Long Island, NY (none were imported)
Important to know that ALL Marion Weeber designs were identified with a style # that began with the initials MW. One of the slides showed a card containing several styles of buttons, but only two have the MW designation. (That means we could definitively attribute some of the buttons we consider to be Weeber or Weeber Types to other artists of the period).
She was a VERY popular designer of a great variety of home products of the time. She only did buttons for less than10 years, beginning in 1941 (the same year as the bombing of Pearl Harbor)
1941: PATRIOTISM was a huge theme (war). “Tulip button” was silver plate with copper colored flowers (now reissued and on sale as a “LaMode Vintage” design)
SPRING 1941: “Palettes” (pierced) PIC BELOW
“Old Fashioned Garden” (at the Cooper Hewitt Museum)
MARION ONLY USED PLASTIC (I think Diane is referring to celluloid specifically) TO MAKE BUTTONS UP UNTIL late 1940’s. Afterwards she did use metal and wood as well.
SPRING 1941: “Home Guard” - ball of yarn and knitting needles.
SPRING 1942: “Planting Time” -- realistic baskets, hoe, pitch fork, watering can. (during period of Victory Gardens)
SPRING 1942: “Old Fashioned Garden” at the Cooper Hewitt Museum
FALL 1942: “Hooked Rugs” early American, realistic rugs with texture. painted, braided rugs in three sizes with 12 colorways. (ELAINE COSSMAN HAS A GREAT PIC OF THIS!)
FALL 1942: “Nuts” celluloid.
FALL 1942: “Flying Feathers” - duck, cardinal, ostrich, partridge, pheasant and others.
“April Showers” At the Cooper Hewitt Museum --- So Cute!
SPRING 1943: “Fireflies” (not in good shape) solid body with transparent wings.
SPRING 1943: “Dotted Fruit” (with applied leaves)
“Fruits and Veggies on Ice Square (cubes)”
SPRING 1947: “First Grade Eggs” has the most complicated crates (eggs come in colors).
BOTH Crated Fruit and Eggs were patented designs.
1947: “Crated Fruit” At the Cooper-Hewitt Museum
SPRING 1947: “Fruit Crop” VERY DEEP basket (also patented)
1947: “Sewing Circle” metalized plastic (the ads referred to them as “charm buttons.”) Includes: tape, patch, thread, pin cushion, thimble and dress form.
DRAWINGS ONLY/not made into buttons: Open Sandwiches (!). ELAINE recalls that Diane also mentioned “Railway Watchman” as not being made into buttons, but she HAS ONE!! (See link to Elaine’s buttons below)
“Detective Stuff” metalized plastic - PIC BELOW (book, deerstalker and pipe, skull and crossbones, crossed revolvers and magnifying glass)
“Seed Packets” VERY popular, came out twice. Showed 7 different fruits and veggies.
“Dutch Treat” (not shown) WOOD BUTTONS with metal loop shanks - has the MW on Serial #. Ice cream cone!!!
“Assorted Nuts” (no date) - peanut. WOOD BUTTONS
“Candlelight” (shown on Carol Cienna’s website along with several other of these themed sample cards)
“Sweets” (celebrate GI’s coming home)
FALL 1948: “Door Knockers” METAL
FALL 1948: “Key Collection” METAL (silver and gold tones)
“Ring Collection” on flat METAL disks: engagement ring with paste (!), Gibson girl, crown, snakes (?), velvet box “card”
SPRING 1949: 3 flowers under umbrella
SPRING 1949: “Social Whirl” clover, leaf, rose, basket of flowers
FALL 1949: “Autumn Leaves” - fold with nut or fruit.
FALL 1949: “Busy Bee” METAL. Fans, flowers, pierced filigree-like dogwood leaf, bow (silver and gold tones) SEE PIC BELOW
1950 (the LAST dated sample card): “Butterflies” -- imitation pearl bodies and pearlized wings. Blacks and neutrals with translucent wings.
OBSERVATIONS ABOUT MARION WEEBER BUTTONS: They were RARELY monotone and mostly OPAQUE. NOT extruded ---- they are MOLDED. They tend to be very detailed. She NEVER used decals (like used on the whisky bottle buttons). None of the plastic buttons have metal loop shanks.
“Curliques” - origami like folded strips of yellow and white metal with pastes and mabe-like pearl (prong set).
More wooden buttons: “Bunny” “Kitten” “Teddy” “Cocker Puppy” “Hound Puppy” and “Lamb” Painted eyes, realistics, 2 colors of wood (blonde and dark).
Deerstalker Cap and Pipe From “Detective Stuff”
NOT A WEEBER BUTTON (I still love the artistry of the flowers, but I bought it thinking it was a Weeber design).
According to Diane, all of Marion Weeber’s button were molded and not extruded. And they all had celluloid shanks (like the examples of the deerstalker and the palette) not metal loops.
FROM ELAINE COSSMAN:
Under "Drawings Only" (spring 1947, between "Sewing Circle" and "Detective Stuff" in your notes) there was a picture of a handheld railroad lamp MW called "Railway Watchman."
Also, I have to go back and reread the articles that Dorothy Del Castillo wrote. Dorothy had corresponded with MW. Every now and then, Dorothy would bring her trays of MW buttons to the San Diego Regional. She was a delightful lady and longtime member of the San Diego button club. *There were pictures but on Picasa kjs
FROM GIL BIGGIE (Click Pix to View Large Size):
Ever wonder how anyone would wear/use
the weeber buttons?
Here is an ad from an old magazine about how to wear the weeber buttons:
AND an old photo that looks like the girl is wearing the celluloid bee buttons on her dress and the weeber peas:
AND a few Weeber button sets:
CAROL CIENNA has some good
information about Marion Weeber on her website:
Vintage Buttons Marion Weeber Page
Kirsten's Original Weeber Card of Strawberries
Sunday March 05, 2017