In Memoriam

Remembering Carol Meszaros

Carol Stout Meszaros, June 1, 1934 – December 13, 2020

Carol Stout Meszaros was a staunch supporter of button collecting in general and NJSBS in particular. With her sister, Sonia Force, Carol cofounded Central Jersey Buttoniers in 1986. For the state society, she was an at-large board director. She appreciated the craftsmanship of the older buttons and admired their beauty. She particularly loved how hunt club buttons reveal that different countries hunt with different hounds – fox hounds, beagle hounds, mink and otter hounds, blood hounds, and harrier hounds,

Always eager to learn something new, she taught herself from books – and was thrilled to find a first edition of the Big Book of Buttons. “Time passes quickly when you are in your books,” she used to say.

Carol was a born teacher. She had an organized mind and an organized approach to helping me, a confused beginner who had inherited a collection. With her, I learned to identify materials. From an unsorted pile of vintage buttons, she would select one or two materials for me to study – and then test me on them the following week. She showed me how looking through books to identify a button can be an exciting adventure. Her mentoring cleared my path to being a serious collector and whetted my desire to help others love to collect as well.

Together we gave talks at libraries; I told the history and she gave detailed instructions on care and handling. She developed a technique guaranteed to get people excited about buttons. After the talks, we offered free poke buttons and showed how to mount them using paper plates, nails, and wires.

Like her sister, Sonia, Carol had a supportive husband for her collecting endeavors. Bob, retired from AT&T, supplied the coated wires, stripped from telephone cables, that we gave away. Bob and Carol visited antique shops together and were able to buy the stock of a retired dealer, Typically she spent seven to eight hours a week sorting and cleaning the buttons. Bob, Carol told me, “helped me immeasurably,” cleaning and re-carding.

Buttons are not the only hobby Carol and Bob enjoyed together. They belong to the Washington Crossing Card Collectors Club, which also meets at the firehouse.

For her career as a paralegal, Carol had taken classes at Rider University and earned an associate’s degree at Mercer County Community College. Carol contributed her organizational efficiency to other community projects. She collected stories for an oral history project about Hopewell, and through Pleasant Valley Stitchers, she was a loyal volunteer at Howell Farms.

Bob and Carol have lived just up the street from the Union Fire Company, where NJSBS holds its meetings, for more than 50 years. Their son Steven lives in Bucks County, PA, with his son Sonny. Her fafmily – and her button friends – will continue to be inspired by her life.

Barbara Figge Fox

Carol Meszaros, volunteering at a library program, helps a new button collector sort her buttons. Photo by Yanis Carreto


In Memoriam

Remembering Elizabeth Hughes

Though few of us knew Elizabeth Hughes, all of us deeply respected the lead author of “The Big Book of Buttons.” Born in London in 1935, her collecting began when her father, a Royal Navy officer, brought, to his only child, gifts of buttons, buckles, and clasps from all over the world. In England, she earned a PhD in biology and married an organic chemist who pioneered in the field of synthetic steroids. Moving to the United States, they lived in Haverford, PA, where – in addition to authoring the Big Book with Marion Lester and writing many columns for NBS, she enjoyed gardening and sewing her own clothes and decorative items.

Her publishers were Diane and David Biesel of St. Johann’s Press, a small independent press that specializes in niche publishing of non-fiction titles. They are members of the NJSBS and of Bergen Button Club.

Elizabeth Hughes’ illness came on suddenly. The week before she passed away (June 7, 2020), she had signed off on the final proofs for Buckles and Clasps: Their history, use and design, now in print. Thanks to David Biesel for these memories of Elizabeth Hughes:

A very special lady graced our lives.
“Our problem is that you speak British English and I speak American English.” I said it with a smile, and Elizabeth laughed and said “Yes, you’re right.” We were working on the second edition of the Big Book of Buttons but it was to be a major part of our working together on that book and on the Buckles and Clasps book. Some of our differences were very minor: Do you put the comma and period inside the quotes or outside. Do you use A, B, and C or A, B and C. Do you use the American “AP downstyle” or the more Continental system of capitalization (Manager, President, etc.)?

But there were others. How do you spell Tutankhamun (Tutankhamen)? Do you follow the quote or use a standard of your choice. Over time words change both in meaning and in spelling. (Do you remember spelling to-day in the 1950s?) But her scholarship was superb. Many times she made me go to Webster’s and 99% of the time she was right. (Except for items like Newton, CT which should be Newtown, CT and is the location of Button Street.)

One of my favorite memories of her was when we first met at her house. She made lunch and said would you like coffee or tea. I said coffee, Diane said tea, and I said oh I’ll take tea then. Elizabeth raised her eyes slightly and said “David, I can make both coffee and tea at the same time.”
Perhaps my greatest problem was getting Elizabeth to realize what facing pages are. Page 233 does not face 234, it faces 232. I know that Marion Lester did the layout of the first edition and she was the one who kept “order in the house.”

When I remember Elizabeth, it is of a gifted artist who could paint a wonderful picture in words.

In Memoriam

Remembering Anita O’Hara

Anita O’Hara – helping at an NJSBS show

Anita Beth O’Brien (nee Royal), age 83, died on July 23, 2020 from Covid-19. A self-employed antique dealer, she was a loyal member of the South Jersey Charm Strings and the New Jersey State Button Society. She had an engaging smile and was always ready to volunteer her help at the show’s welcome desk.
Anita was a beloved member of the Pitman Road Church of Christ. Her memorial service has been postponed to Saturday, May 8, 2021, at 3 p.m. at the church, located at 500 Pitman Rd, Sewell, NJ 08080.

In Memoriam

Remembering John Force

An avid member of the Central Jersey Buttoniers, New Jersey State Button Society, and the National Button Society, John Force, passed away in May 2020.
An enthusiastic collector of many things old and antique, his first love was collecting milk bottles and dairy-related items. Button collecting was an exciting endeavor, and along with Sonia, his wife of 69 years, they traveled many miles, in a lot of years, meeting knowledgeable folks, and always looking to find an unexpected button treasure for their collections.
John’s particular interests in button collecting were American Indians and animals, farm related. He will be remembered for his engaging smile and his gift of gab.

by Sonia Force


Buttons for Art, Buttons for Craft

Button collectors try to keep their buttons intact, but they also welcome ways to enjoy using them in craft or art projects. For the Fall Show in 2017, Annie Frazier and Mary Jane Pozarycki sponsored three competitions. Members competed with buttons used in artwork, jewelry, and wearables. In this photo, Helene Plank (left) and Lorraine Grinka display their amazing creations. Buttons needed to be the key component.

The directions required that only craft quality buttons should be used if the process includes gluing or other permanent changes to the button.  “No collectible buttons should be used unless they are sewn or wired onto the piece. Shanks should not be removed from buttons.”  The awards were judged by popular vote with comments from the sponsors. The competitions were inspired by the success of the Button Art Contest held at the Florida show in January.  “Our thanks to Sylvia Durell who designed this contest.  Many people love to create with buttons and we would like to have them participate.”


Information Please? Rooster Brand Overalls Button

This post comes from our Facebook page. NJSBS member Jade Papa worked with a collection at the University of North Carolina and asked about his button, yellow metal with a rooster and the words “I Crow Over All.” It’s on a men’s duster

First Answer: Pam Hudock VasilowIt’s a work clothes or “overalls” button. Even though it was found on a duster, it may have originally been from other work clothes. A “duster” was something worn to keep the dust off your good clothes, depending on your job. They were also very popular as extra long overcoats for people driving early automobiles. Very early autos were open air vehicles. The long duster covered up the clothing of both men and women, keeping their regular clothing clean. Such an outfit was usually worn with goggles, for keeping the dust out of one’s eyes. (When you find huge celluloid buttons, they are often from stylish overcoats worn while traveling in those early autos.) This button, however, is definitely from work clothes.

Chris Parham“I crow for all” quote from sailor powder monkey verse.

Lou YeargainWobble shank overall button. NBS has the book for sale about these special buttons.


Vicky MayhallRobert C. Wilkins Limited of Montreal, Canada made Rooster brand. The company was established in 1890. They made all kinds of work clothing so the buttons very well could be original on that linen duster. Very nice! 


Mary Jane: Buttons as Quilt Squares

In this project, Mary Jane combines her skill with quilting and her love of buttons. She explains how she crafted her entry in a competition (now postponed) based on Mary Shelby’s button quilt.

Mary Jane contributes in many ways to the New Jersey State Button Society — her chocolate chip cookies and brownies are legendary at our meetings! We are also grateful for her creativity.

Until she made this video, Mary Jane had never MADE videos. Perhaps she can inspire the rest of us! Living in our virtual world this season, it’s so much fun – and makes us feel more ‘together’ — when we can see and hear a button friend! If you need help making the video, just email and we’ll try to help.


Coping with Covid: Sara Mulford, Dealer

Sara Mulford, at a library presentation

Covid19  has played havoc on our hobby.  But — when the pandemic started, button sales seemed to soar. With staying home and time on their hands and no button shows to attend — what else were people to do than peruse the internet for buttons.

With all the shut down of button shows at the state, regional and national level where does that leave us to shop for buttons? Many of us often turn to eBay auctions, Etsy  or maybe online button groups such as Button Bytes. These are fine, but for me and  my need to sell, I needed to reach more button collectors. I’ve signed on to 4 groups, with many more out there. During this time I mailed buttons all over the states as well as Canada, England and Australia. 

Each group has its own rules for selling and buying, they even do auctions occasionally. You will meet not only button collectors but sewers, crafters, jewelry and costume makers.

Buttons can be listed  as a single button or a group. There are also times where large lots are listed. It depends on the button group what type seems to sell. I notice my higher end buttons don’t move as fast as my lower cost or novelty buttons.

So where do you go to find these buttons I have for sale? ( there are many more out there) In no special order, Buttons4Sale, Vintage Button Circle, Old Buttons, Buckles &Beyond, OLD BUTTONS NEW BUTTONS & MORE Buy/Sell/Auctions. These are all Facebook sites. You do need to join the group to see what is for sale. They do only PayPal payments. If you don’t have that set up it would be wise to do so. Just like at a show you need to know your prices, not to over pay for your buttons. Buy the ones you love. You can also find some bargains or treasures. (some what like a poke box without the digging). 
We don’t know when all this mess will end but I know there is an endless amount of buttons out there!  
Submitted by:
Sara Mulford
Sara Mulford is a past president of the New Jersey State Button Society.

Virtual Visit to a Button Show

What’s it like to go to a button show? Here’s a video to explain, it’s about a three day show in Florida.

In New Jersey, our show is just ONE day, but the elements are there — the dealer tables, the competitions, the raffle — and the fun!

We can’t go to a New Jersey show this year -and the National Button Society show has been canceled –  but we can have fun thinking about it, and preparing for next year!

Thanks to Sylvia Durrell of Holey Buttons for this video.