Buttons shaped like the actual objects they depict are variously known as ‘Goofies’ (especially in the USA), realistic or figural buttons. They existed, but not commonly, before the 1930s. Pre 1930s Examples included flowers, stars, acorns and shells.

They were very fashionable for ladies for a few years from 1936. Sometime between 1940 and the mid 1950s they morphed into something used for children’s clothing.

The influential designer, Elsa Schiaparelli (1890-1973), was largely responsible for the mania for realistic buttons during the late 1930s. According to Wikipedia she “was also renowned for her unusual buttons, which could resemble candlesticks, playing card emblems, ships, crowns, mirrors, and crickets or silver tambourines and silk-covered carrots and cauliflowers. Many of these fastenings were designed by Jean Clement¹, Roger Jean-Pierre² and Jean Schlumberger.”³ She was described as having “a flair for departing from the expected”, particularly in her trademark use of unusual buttons in wood and plastic. She was influenced by the surrealist art movement. Her couture house lasted from 1927-1954.

¹Jean Clement: He was graduate of the School of Fine Arts and also had a degree in chemistry. His enabled him in making plastics. He was a brilliant accessory designer.

²Roger Jean-Pierre: Jeweller designer. Worked for Schiaparelli between 1934-1939. He designed for many haute couturiers.

³Jean Schlumberger: 1907-1987. Jewellery designer, especially known for his work for Tiffany & Co, and a clientel of the rich and famous.

Another designer/ceramic artist who worked for her was Robert Bonnefille. See

The Age (Melbourne), 14th June 1941 page 15.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 6th May 1937 page 26.

Australian Women’s Weekly, 25th June 1938 page 5.

Chronicle (Adelaide), 17th October 1925 page 73. Novel star shaped buttons on a morning dress.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 7th July 1934 page 9. Brown arrow shaped buttons on a golfing outfit.

1935: “Amusing” bottle shaped buttons made by an Australian for Anthony Hordern’s.

The Labor Daily (Sydney) 15th September 1936 page 9. Heart shaped buttons adorn a sleeve.

1936: miniature carrots

The Sun (Sydney), 5th October 1936 page 12. ” … green bone dog buttons on the grey crepe de Chine blouse …” They were probably casein rather than bone.

The Sun (Sydney) 7th April 1937 page 26. White hat shaped buttons on a blue frock.

The Herald (Melbourne) 19th June 1937. Flower buttons on a blouse.

The Sun (Sydney), 2nd May 1937 “… four kelpie dog buttons, all of different colours, fastening (the) frock.”

News (Adelaide) 6th October 1937 page 9. Musical instruments forming a small orchestra on your blouse.

Truth (Brisbane), 5th September 1937 page 27.

Telescope buttons.
The Central Queensland Herald, 6th May 1937 p3.

Townsville Daily Bulletin (Qld), 16th December 1937 page 8. Detail from an advert for McKimmins & Richardson P/L, drapers and Funeral Directors (you couldn’t make it up!).

The Daily Telegraph (Brisbane), 12th October 1937 page 8.

News (Adelaide), 4th November 1937 page 12.

The Sun (Sydney), 12th May 1938.

Australian Women’s Weekly, 6th August 1938 page 6. P.S. Insects have 6 legs, but 3 body parts. Arachnids have 8 legs and 2 body parts: these are an un-natural hybrid!

Herald (Melbourne), 10th November 1938.









1936: Two of the shrimp buttons on a tailored frock.

Examiner(Launceston), 2nd February 1938 page 10 supplement.



1937: a dress adorned with flower pot buttons for sale at Myers.

1939 set.


Why do we love Scotty dogs so much?

An article from a pet website has some information:

 An British artist who moved to America, Marguerite Kirmse, was very successful drawing animals,  dogs in particular, including Scotties, in the 1920s.

One early example in pop-culture were “Ric and Rac”, a Wire Fox terrier and his Scottish terrier buddy in the 1930s. They were carton characters created by Paul Abraham (professional name Pol Rab) that featured in a French newspaper. They were so popular that their images were used for brooches, housewares and ornaments. As scotch terrier/fox terrier style buttons date from the late 1930s, they may have been an inspiration.

The famous pet of Franklin Roosevelt, Fala (1940-1952), further cemented these iconic dogs into our consciousness.

From Wikipedia.

Advertising from (?American) magazines show more scotties. They date from 1937-1940, and were shared on Pintrest.

JHB released these under copyright for Paddington’s 40th anniversary in 1998.


Music & Dance.

School Days. The blackboard is a super cute brooch.


The complete set of “toys”.

Top row: plaster or similar.