Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Pearl Button Museum - Muscatine, Iowa

My friend Tara and I made a whirlwind trip this week to visit The Pearl Button Museum in Muscatine, IA.

We arrived late in Muscatine, but were able to enjoy a later dinner at the The Button Factory restaurant.  This building once housed the Ronda Button Company.  Some of the original wooden trusses and equipment have been kept as part of the decor & structure of the restaurant. 

 (Click images to enlarge photos)

Tara & I are researching the Pearl button industry.  The next morning we met with the museum curator Mary.  We spent several hours with Mary talking, laughing, researching cabinets and boxes full of pearl button history.  We are grateful and thankful to Mary for her generous hospitality!

Muscatine, IA sits on the Mississippi river and is full of American industrial history.  If you enjoy historical trips or collect pearl buttons, this is a destination for you!

The first level of the Muscatine Story & Industry Center features the Pearl Button Museum.  The upper floors are dedicated to the history of other Muscatine industries.

The photos below represent a tidbit of what you may experience in The Pearl Button Museum:

  Framed display of a shell with button blanks drilled out of it - notice the unfinished button blanks amongst the finished buttons

  Awesome display of pearl buttons, buckles and other delights
Just one of the educational displays of the history and equipment of the pearl button industry

Window display featuring an enlarged button card banner of American Maid Pearls and other equipment
  One of many enlarged button card banners
Peter Pan Pearls enlarged button card banner

Enlarged card banner of Men's pearl shirt buttons

The Pearl Button Museum also offers a gift shop, an educational video room, additional button processing equipment, a hands-on children's exhibit of a house to resemble the cottage industry of sewing/carding pearl buttons from the turn of the 20th century, informative displays of the companies and people of the pearl button industry, and lots of wonderful buttons, buckles and pearl buttons on their original lithograph cards!

 Here are a couple images of what we were allowed to photograph not currently on display:

A copper lithograph printing plate featuring six different images used for publications/store retail button cards. If you click to enlarge this image you will see the plate manufacture's name inscribed in the top center is Hacker.... my last name!  I'd love to have this in my collection!! 

Boxes after boxes full of original lithographed pearl button cards!

Tara & Mary unboxing treasures

Tami & Mary discussing the buckles

Thank you Mary and The Pearl Button Museum for sharing with us the history of the Pearl Button Industry!  We had a great time and plan to return for another visit!

Please do not copy or use any of the above photos for personal or public use- Thank you.


  1. Hi Tami~
    What an interesting post....I would love to check out that musuem! How neat and I love those button cards. You should host a button card swap....where we create a button card and add interesting buttons to it. We could have swap partners. Wouldn't that be fun????? I would join....and I know Laurie from Birdsong would join!!

  2. Hope is right, I would join! Wow, Tami, thank you for posting this! I would really love to visit this museum!! And eat at that restaurant!!

  3. just visiting from indulge your shelf :)
    those enlarged button cards are great!

  4. I knew that a lot of pearl buttons came from Iowa but I didn't know there was a museum- what fun- a whole building devoted to buttons- sounds like heaven!

  5. What an interesting post!! I thought I loved buttons but I do believe I've met someone who loves them more! You have some absolute beauties! I'm now a follower too.

    Hugs XX

  6. Oh my gosh, how wonderful! I would love to visit that!

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  8. What interesting info. Today I looked again at my grandma's button box and found the 3 pink button cards (Bluebird product) with the very stylish lady on them that had been in my family. My great aunts were millners in Charter Oak. I started looking for the price on them, and was led to the computer to find all the history behind them. Their copyright is 1922. I see them in one of your pictures. I will have to visit one day!