Treasures abound at collectors’ bazaar
By Susan Maxwel Skinner
Some of the most eye-popping antiques are also the smallest. At the Sacramento Button Club’s March 2 expo in Carmichael, you might snag a Civil War tunic fastener for under $50. If you lust for Gainsborough-style portrait pieces, be prepared to unbutton your billfold. Via such wee works, artisan glory of centuries past will be displayed.
And if you just want a button to replace one that popped off a shirt, vendors will have a deal for you, too.
What astonishes is, among poke-tray plastic bargains, the availability of seriously old stuff at such bazaars. A 1700s spotted dog under glass bears a $1,000-plus tag. Snipped from long-ago rotted garments, such are thumb-nail masterpieces. Gem-crusted, some might have bribed Bastille turnkeys during the French Revolution.
“We often look at old buttons and imagine the stories they could tell,” says the club’s treasurer, Susan Rhoades. Georgian dandies risked having exquisite furbelows snatched from their vests in the streets. Says Rhoades: “Lives were lost in making them; pearl dust is toxic and mercury (for gold plating) killed many. You learn so much about history, art and manufacturing from buttons.”
At first ornamental, the ingenious use of buttons to keep clothes in check came to Europe after the Crusades. Manufacture took off. Medieval guilds protected button makers and master artisans were sought by popes and princes. With servants to hook them up, the rich sported hundreds of buttons per garment. Portraits, pets and landscapes were daubed on the tiny tidbits. Pearls, gold or diamond buttons studded stomachers. No material was too grand for the button makers’ art. When the widowed Queen Victoria took to wearing jet specimens, society followed. Black cut glass is still in haute button vogue.
Poppers, zippers and Velcro revolutionized 20th century fastening. But nifty little buttons have never been undone.
“People come to our show seeking that one perfect item,” says Faye Wolfe. “One lady brought a vest she’d sewn; she wanted four matching buttons for it. In the end, the four she chose were each quite different. Who says they have to match? Our button world is full of eccentricity.”
The Sacramento Button Club bazaar runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, March 2 in the Carmichael Park Club House, 5750 Grant Ave. Admission is by a $2 donation. For more information, call 489-1785.
A 22-year tradition at the Effie Yeaw Nature Center, the March 23 and 24 Bird and Breakfast fundraiser incorporates every hungry ornithologist’s dream: eggs in nests and eggs on toast.
As the sun rises, Sacramento Audubon Society guides will lead explorers to view birds during their most industrious season. Hearty trekkers will be rewarded with hearty breakfasts and discussion. Though deer, otter and piscine sightings also are likely, the main binocular focus is on feathered species in the nature preserve and adjacent American River Parkway.
“Audubon people research the area in advance,” says Effie Yeaw staffer Betty Cooper. “They know where the cool stuff is and will lead small groups from spot to spot, providing information about what they see.”
A spring tradition for many wildlife fans, the Saturday, March 23 adults-only safari is followed by oatmeal, eggs, ham and designer coffee, served by American River Natural History Association board members.
“We sell out every year,” Cooper says. “We’ve hated turning people away. So we’ve expanded it to two days this time. In the new Sunday event we’ll cater for families. We’ll have a one-hour walk, then Carmichael Kiwanis will cook pancakes for everyone.”
Admissions ($35 on March 23, $25 on March 24) assist the nature center’s survival. Sunday’s event offers $10 admissions for children. Promises Cooper. “It’s a rare opportunity to experience animal life cycles and study things you often pass by without seeing.”
The walk is not recommended for very young children. Participants should wear comfortable shoes and bring binoculars.
“Bird and Breakfast” begins at 8 a.m. Bookings are essential and numbers are limited. To learn more about the fundraiser, call 489-4918.
A stone wall recently restored at Patriots Park belies a travesty. Bronze plaques honoring the park’s 12 heroes were stolen last year.
After weeks of community uproar, a recycler reported one of the plates surrendered for for scrap metal sale. The thief was arrested. Plaques in his posession were damaged beyond reuse. The wall’s large dedication sign was never found.
Restoration was enabled by Joe Bergh, owner of Ainor Signs in Lincoln. Bergh is a graduate of Del Campo High, alma mater to several wall honorees. The businessman replaced the missing signs at his expense. Speaking at a 2012 ceremony that honored the fallen patriots, Sacramento County Supervisor Susan Peters commended the gesture: “Mr. Bergh ensured that our honorees remain in our hearts—forever.”
To some families, the Wall of Honor is a symbolic gravestone. During the most recent Iraq war, Navy pilot Lt. David Warne was lost in the Mediterranean Sea. Though he is commemorated at Arlington Cemetery, his body was never recovered. David’s father, Vietnam Silver Star recipient Col Evans Warne, says: “The wall provides comfort that our son’s sacrifice is recognized by people who come to this park. We were crestfallen when the plaques were stolen. It was wonderful to see them restored.”
Carmichael Park District allows for more names to be added to the Wall of Honor. Conditions apply. For nomination guidelines, call 485-5322.
Best of Broadway Suffers Worst Blow
Theatrical fans are rallying to help a beleaguered theatrical company whose future is threatened by a devastating theft.
On the eve of Best of Broadway’s 40th year, $33,000 worth of essential production equipment was stolen from its Sacramento storage facility. To date, police have not recovered missing microphones, power tools and musical instruments.
Veteran producer David L. McDonald’s song and dance review is staged annually at the Fair Oaks Village Amphitheater. Profits benefit charity. The show has nurtured formidable talent; many cast alumni are now theatrical professionals. Molly Ringwold and Broadway headliner Teal Wicks hatched from its chorus lines.
“The show has been through good and tough times,” a supporter says. “This is the most demoralizing. When you run on a small budget, a loss like this is crippling.”
A recent SOS fundraiser inspired supporters.
“Once the theater (The Refuge in Midtown) opened, the love that poured into the room almost stopped my heart,” says fundraising director Chris Carlson. “It continued through our 90-minute show and peaked when we were able to hand Dave McDonald almost $6,000.” Later donations have since boosted the fund.
“These gifts have energized us not to give up,” Carlson adds. “If the support continues, there will be a 40th Best of Broadway show next September.”
Donations to assist Best of Broadway may be mailed to P.O. Box 60832, Carmichael, CA 95608. For more information, call 704-0058.