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The E-Sylum: Volume 11, Number 30, July 27, 2008, Article 14

ON COIN-MAKING AND BUTTON-MAKING

Carl Honore of Puyallup, WA writes:
Dick Johnson's note on button making was interesting. It is true that button makers can develop into coin strikers, but that is only true as far as it goes. Washington's buttons were rather crude in design and execution. What set Boulton apart from his contemporaries was technology. Boulton, with the help of others such as Jean-Pierre Droz, Conrad Kuchlerm and even his partner James Watt all had a hand in the best tokens and coins of that time. One person cannot do it alone. What Boulton and Watt did was take the button manufactory to new horizons. In truth, button making did not require the same die set up as coin making, in terms of the stamping dies. The buttons from Boulton's era that I have are rather quite ordinary, uniface strikes. The two are really quite different in terms of execution. While Johnson's note is basically true, it is also quite general.


Ron Abler writes:
Dick Johnsonís observation about the close relationship between buttons and coins is spot-on and holds even more closely between buttons and medals. Medals, like coins, have not only their manufacturers and manufacturing methods in common with buttons, but medals and buttons also often share their subject matter. Take for example the U.S. Centennial of 1876 and especially the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. The number of Expo souvenirs that were sold for that event is truly astonishing. The medals, of course, get the most attention from modern-day exonumists, but they were easily outnumbered by die-struck buttons, studs, pins, badges, cuff links, lockets, belt buckles, and even suspender snaps.

Mr. Johnson is right. It is striking (pun intended) how similar these mementos are in their manufacture: die-struck obverses with a dazzling array of reverses and/or shapes that betray their intended purpose. An Expo visitor with no numismatic bias might actually conclude that the medals could be defined simply as two-faced die-struck souvenirs with no discernible utilitarian purpose!




Wayne Homren, Editor

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