Sunday, 3 July 2011

Buttons and a Bullet

I was talking buttons with my good friend Amber and we started prowling ebay to see if they had any 60's buttons for Ams new 60's dress. I got a bit carried away and distracted as one does with the internet and shopping and stumbled upon a job lot of buttons for sale. A large tin of buttons and an old sewing box, with all it's content.

With over-excitement, slight insanity and a simple click of the button, I'd bought the lot. Stupidly I hadn't checked the delivery address and had accidently sent them to my mum's so I had to wait even longer, before I could play with them.
Finally on a trip to visit my folks, I got to open my parcel. Too exciting. The sewing box was full to the brim with buttons and clearly someone's working sewing kit, in much need of renovation, also over flowing but I shall tell you about that later.

The button box was a very large quality streets tin, full to the brim with buttons, from vintage to eighties to sparkly to wooden, some still on old Woolworths cards for 29p, super super exciting, I sat there for hours going through them.
Then I found the first scrap of intrigue. A postcard with an old type-written correspondence about replacing buttons at Saville Row. Who was this mysetry gentleman, who needed his buttons replaced? The shop still exists, Huntsman of Saville Row, I might take it down to see if they can shed some light on the mystery.

The next even more intriguing mysetry was the discovery of a bullet!!! Yes, you heard me right. Nestled inside a plastic bag with military buttons was a very small bullet-shaped object. Surely not, I thought and posted it on facebook to see if anyone recognised it.

Due to the button connection a few people thought it might be some sort of thimble, my brother Doug suggested hitting it with a hammer but after a fair amount of debate, BG's mum popped up and said "It's an ammunition shell casing hun bang-bang" I don't know why I didn't think to ask her first, she was in the army for years, doh!
So I dragged archeologist and ex-TA man Lee to the Imperial War Museum and got it confirmed, and also found out it's a blank and the buttons are Royal Artillery buttons, the man there wasn't any more helpful, but Lee dug into the book shelves and started pulling out button books (unlike me, he knew the correct terminology) we found out these buttons were some sort of dress buttons but we found out no more.

My other brother Bill whose a bit clever concluded this:

"At a guess - .22 rimfire, 6 point star crimped, black tipped, short round blank. Used in a Lee-Enfield SMLE No.2 MK IV Rifle or it's derivative by a WW2 re-enactor.

Logic. Army buttons and blank bullets =~ reenactor. 5mm ~= .22" (pre-decimal rifles or copies). Those Lee-Enfield rifles were used by Dad's army and cadets for practise in the UK - originally converted from .303's in WW1. The MK IV and it's derivitives were purpose built .22 @ WW2 - the smaller caliber was because of the shortage of metal and it was only practise anyway. The rest is visible in the pic. As for AS - it's probably the manufacturer as I couldn't find another meaning."

So on my next visit to London I shall be going to the Royal Artillery Museum in Woolwich and may also pop into Fat Boys Diner and perhaps go on the Woolwich ferry, anyone wanna come?
Unfortunately I had to leave my button box at my mum's, cause I had to use my granny trolley to take home my new sewing machine (more about that later) and my sewing box for renovation.
I thoroughly reccomend buying mysterious button boxes from ebay, a heap lot of fun and inspiration has been had!

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