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
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.