We live in an age of "collectibles," when the memories of youthful exuberance and the innocence of earlier years are hawked by vendors at trade shows. They ask--and usually get--premium prices for things that your mother threw away while you were away at college. Today things are even SOLD as being more valuable straight out of the box, simply because they are associated with a popular current movie or a large, purple stuffed dinosaur, for example.

As the contents of the museum bear witness, Eva Blount Way was a trend-setter in the field of Nineteenth-Century collectibles. She began her legendary collection of buttons when she married in 1887 at the age of seventeen. Starting with four buttons from her mother-in-law, she had amassed more than 10,000 when she "got tired" of keeping an accurate tally. Today there are about 30,000 from her collection. They are mounted using some 225 hosiery boxes or cloth belts, besides "a cast of thousands" waiting in the wings for proper display to the public.

Historians and political pundits will take particular notice of several campaign buttons from the last fifty years of American politics. John F. Kennedy's name is touted for the office of president on a large 3.5" button while Barry Goldwater is represented by a simple, folded pair of his trademark dark-rimmed eyeglasses. A button for the Eisenhower/Nixon ticket proclaims "LET'S CLEAN HOUSE WITH IKE AND DICK." The likes of John Anderson, Hubert H. Humphrey, Wendell Willkie, and George Wallace "hang together," as Benjamin Franklin suggested the colonials should do.

Come and see this piece of history and others in "Granny's Attic," the Belhaven Memorial Museum.

Belhaven Treasure #7

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Diane K. Mason, HTML Editor 1998