France, is a small town on the Loire River, south of Paris, two hours by train.
Before 2004, I, as a vintage and antique (clothing) button dealer and
collector, only knew of this town as the place where Jean-Felix Bapterosses had
established an extensive factory and produced millions of china (the material,
a simple porcelain) buttons (and mosaic tiles, and beads) for 100 years, from
1850-1950. The history of this factory and its production of buttons are
described briefly at the front of the National Button Society publication
entitled Guidelines for Collecting China Buttons.
I heard a rumor through a friend of a china button collecting friend, that the
Bapterosses factory had a dump where it deposited overstock, seconds, and
products in outdated colors, and that the dump might be accessible. In
2005, I made my first visit to Briare, with a group of china button collectors,
and we found, after a lovely visit to the small Bapterosses Museum (Musée de
la mosaïque et des émaux de Briare-le-Canal), that, in fact, one can go to the dump.
month, in this column, Nancy Fink's article described her first encounter with
the dump. In this article, I would like to further describe the Bapterosses
china buttons seen in the museum, and found in the dump.
that first visit to Briare, in May of 2005, the visit to the museum caused
hundreds of "wow's" to come out of our mouths as we peered into the
glass show-cases and saw exceptional buttons not previously seen, and not
pictured in the Guidelines--among them, extra large size buttons
with calico patterns transferred onto them, and many unknown colors and
patterns of inserted two-way self-shank buttons. This latter group of
buttons particularly caught my interest as I had always been fond of this type
of china button, in that they have a unique structure.
In the Guidelines, the inserted two-way
self-shank button is described on page 33 as being: "constructed in two
parts"... "the tops vary" and the "shanks are hollow disks
rounded to fit into a molded well at the back of the button top". A
photograph will probably help to see what this type of shank looks like.