We are currently viewing a number of properties in order to find a permanent home for the Button Shop. The property needs to fulfil several criteria: it must be sizeable enough to securely hold the entire Button and Fabric Collections; it must be located in an attractive area with a large potential customer footfall; it should have original period features; and it must have one green door. A fundraising drive is now in progress to generate the capital to purchase the property. To this end, we are planning to sell several buttons from the collection and we also hope to benefit from the support of new Heritage Donors and Legacy Patrons.

So far, we are considering several properties.

Property Number 1, below, comes in below our expected price range, at £80,000:

Property Number 1 boasts a fashionable Stoke Newington location and walls.


Property Number 2, below, has the benefit of a large amount of glass frontage, useful for displaying the Buttons, as well as a pleasant position in Highgate. It comes in slightly over budget, at £4,950,000. Property number 2 is currently under offer by another buyer; if we choose this property, we would need to act quickly with a counter-offer – probably something in the vicinity of £10,000,000, just to make sure that we got it.

Property Number 2 boasts large display windows.


Property Number 3 is a mid-range choice, positioned in a North London location:

Property Number 3 is located in the E4 postal code area, and doesn't seem to have any advantages at all.


And finally, Property Number 4, pictured below, offers good price-to-size value, but presents an intriguing challenge should we choose it for the Button Shop, in that it has been demolished.

Property Number 4 offers both opportunity and challenge.

We are keen to include the input of all friends and supporters of the Button Shop during the property hunt. Please contact me by email with your views on these potential homes for the Button Shop.




Dear Everyone,

I have finally decided on September’s theme at the Button Shop, in consultation with Margaret. The theme will be ‘Something in the Woodwork: Carved Wooden Buttons, Old and New’. Our collections contain a great variety and range of wooden buttons, both old and modern, many handmade, and many of which were acquired during my recent American trip. This will thus be a timely opportunity to feature them in the Shop. More details will follow very soon. Margaret is IS NOW NOT also bringing several hundred Renaissance-era carved wooden buttons back from the Shop’s buying trip in Italy, which will WON’T be on display very soon.


Dear Everyone,

It’s a busy time for all of us at the Button Shop, despite – or perhaps because of – the fact that I am enjoying a much-needed holiday in the Eastern United States.

First of all, I have decided to extend July’s Blue Theme into August, as I don’t feel that we have had enough time to properly explore Blue yet.
Next, I am delighted to announce the appointment of a New Associate, pictured below to my left, to head our American office. As we enter a busy period at the Shop, the extra assistance at that end will be invaluable.
And finally, and most importantly, I can now give a preview of the important – and quite substantial – acquisitions to the Button Shop’s Textile and Button Collections, which have been made during my American trip. Please click here for the images.
More information will follow as soon as I am back in London.

The New Concourse, April 2012. Photograph © Mouse’s Education Foundation/Hartman

Dear Everyone,

I have decided to kick off the Button Shop’s theme months with the well-known ‘primary’ colour of BLUE.

Although my collection boasts quite a number of green buttons, in many different shades and sizes…

…it cannot be said that this is the case for blue buttons

Accordingly, much of July will be devoted to improving our blue button holdings.

Blue is a surprisingly tricky colour. Often a button might seem to be blue, only to appear as green or grey when you look at it in a different light:

To get to grips with Blue, we need to first situate it in the context of the larger spectrum of colours.

Towards the beginning of my research into Blue, I found the answer to a particular mystery that has been bothering me for almost as long as I can remember. If you can bear with me for a moment, I will just make a brief digression into the science of colour perception.

Cone cells and colour channels are the parts of the brain that allow us to experience colour. However, everyone’s  cone cells are different. If you are a mantis shrimp, or a zebrafish, for example, your core cone cells allow you to see four colours – red, green, blue, plus ultraviolet. As a result, you can see more combinations that effectively make up our perception of a ‘colour’; that is, you see more colours. People, on the other hand, have three types of cone cells – green, red, and blue. And mice (such as myself), in turn, lacking red, have only two types of cone cells, further limiting the number of colour combinations (that is, colours) that they can see.

This fact goes a long way towards explaining why the words ‘yellow’ and ‘orange’ have always seemed…like a party that I was never invited to. Indeed, where everyone else is talking about ‘yellow-orange’ and ‘green-blue’, I (like the majority of animals in fact) see two ‘green-blues’ – although, apparently, this might not always be the case for me.

Figure 4. Functional evaluation of cone photoreceptor cells in Gnat1−/−Rpe65−/− and Gnat1−/−Lrat−/− mice after 9-cis-retinyl acetate (9cRAc) treatment. ERG responses were obtained in 4-, 6- and 8-week-old Gnat1−/−Rpe65−/− and Gnat1−/−Lrat−/− mice on the day following the last day of treatment with 9-cis-retinyl acetate (from P10 to P21, IP injection of 1.0 µg/g body weight; from P22 to P56, gavage with 50 µg/g body weight; see Materials and Methods for regimen). (A) Representative traces of scotopic single flash ERG recordings are shown for Gnat1−/− and for both strains of 4-week-old double knockout mice either treated with 9-cis-retinyl acetate or vehicle solution. Comparison of these recordings shows that both double knockout strains had reduced responses relative to the Gnat1−/− mouse and that treatment with 9-cis-retinyl acetate partially preserved ERG responses in both double knockout strains. (B) ERG b-wave amplitudes indicate that treatments with 9-cis-retinyl acetate improved responses in Gnat1−/−Lrat−/− mice (left panel) and Gnat1−/−Rpe65−/− mice (right panel) at 4, 6 and 8 weeks of age. No b-wave responses were detected in vehicle-treated Gnat1−/−Lrat−/− mice at 4, 6 and 8 weeks of age (only data from 4-week-old Gnat1−/−Lrat−/− mice are presented). Gnat1−/−Rpe65−/− mice showed some residual responses during the experimental period. Bars indicate SDs; n = 4–7, P < 0.0001.

…frankly, it’s all green to me.

Above: The  Ishihara ‘Colour Blindness’ Chart. (I personally prefer the adjective ‘differently sighted’ to ‘colour blind’.  I suspect that many other Dichromats would agree with me.)

Importantly, all this means that the colours that we ‘see’ may bear no relation to the colours that others ‘see’. Even within a single species, there is a certain amount of variation. There is effectively no real ‘colour’ at all because everyone’s colours are different; even the colours printed on colour charts change depending on who is looking at them.

But what does all this mean for Blue? For one thing, if you look at the subtle gradiations wherein blue turns into other colours below, it becomes clear that defining what Blue actually could be mostly a matter of opinion. To that ambiguity, you have to add the fact that we all see these gradiations/colour boundaries differently.

It almost boggles the mind.

Importantly, it also becomes clear that what we often taken as the ‘primary colours’ – yellow, red, and blue – are in fact simply the types of pigments that lend themselves most easily to being combined; they are not the primary colours that any of us, animals or people, actually  ‘see’.

 One can’t fail to notice that Blue is a very special colour, for it fulfils three functions at the same time. First, it is one of the colours that we genuinely ‘see’, in our cerebral comprehension of the colour spectrum. Next, it is one of the these three ‘primary’ colours above that are central in any process of design, art, textiles, or buttons. And finally, Blue is an appealing colour in itself.

In the 19th Century, people  found that with a coating of a chemical on a sheet of paper, they could make multiple reverse copies of drawings of the design of houses or machinery. As the negative of the image turned an insoluble permanent blue when exposed to light, these copies became known as Blueprints:

It is worth mentioning that some people — mostly fish, but also people who fall off the sides of  ships and aren’t rescued — are surrounded by blue for their entire lives (or the rest of them). In that sense, ‘Blue’ as a particular colour has no meaning for them, for blue is simply all empty space where there doesn’t happen to be any other things with other colours — For fish and people thrown overboard, Blue is perhaps analogous to the way we think of a clear day, a blank white canvas, or, perhaps, darkness.

No matter what your colour season is, there is guaranteed to be some variant of blue that will look flattering on you. For Summers, soft gray-blue is particularly flattering. If you are an Autumn, you will look good in Steel Blue, Teal Blue, or bright Turquoise. As a Winter, I find that Blue-Black, Dark Blue, and Violet team with my skin tone and fur colour best. Springs should opt for Clear Blue, Steel Blue, or Aqua-type colours.


Helpfully, the Button Shop offers a full Colour Consultation for the very reasonable starting price of £49.50, including swatches. Advance booking essential.

Depending on the cultural context, Blue plays different and diverse roles in ideas of fashion. Unlike in the Occidental ones, in the Japanese Colour Seasons Charts, Blue, in any form, present only in one season: Autumn.

The Collection may be somewhat lacking in blue buttons – something I hope to remedy this month – however, there are several nice examples of Blue within our Vintage Japanese Fabric Collection, below. Fabric panels, dating from the 1950s and 1960s, are priced at around £15. Framed fabric panels start at £30 and can be made to order. Swatches can provided free of charge. Each piece is unique.






Our May gala Spring dinner was a rousing success. This year, the accent was on North Africa, and the menu featured Poulet au harissa, Bulgur wheat salad, and Carrot salad with cumin and mint. To which someone added some cheap, yellow, toxic-looking store-bought cupcakes.

Next month’s event will be a murder mystery evening. As usual, tickets will be available to the Button Shop’s Heritage Donors (£50,000 + / year) and Legacy Patrons (£100,000 +) two days earlier – just one of the many advantages of supporting the Button Shop.


Latest News (Events): 30 August 2011: I am pleased to announce that we will shortly be inaugurating our Autumn Late Nights at the Button Shop evenings. On Wednesday evening, you will be able to enjoy the Button Shop, admire the collections, shop, socialise, and participate in any events that are going on, until 3 AM. Wine, a selection of seasonal appetisers, and live music will be provided. We expect to announce the date of the first Late Night in several weeks, once we sort out where the Button Shop is.

Note: A Candidate has Now been Recruited for a Trial Period for this Post. However, we are Still Considering Expressions of Interest for Similar Future Positions.

We are currently seeking an Assistant Curator (Part-Time) at the Foundation. Duties will include sorting buttons and other objects by colour, helping out on the special events and theme evenings, maintaining the Foundation’s webpage, and liaising with patrons, donors, and well-known celebrities. Special consideration will be given to candidates who DO NOT SUDDENLY DECIDE THEY HAVE TO GO OUT FOR THE EVENING WHEN THEY PROMISED TO HELP WITH THE BUTTON SHOP’S FOUNDATION’S WEBSITE.

The post is unpaid, but the successful candidate will benefit from travel costs and gain valuable experience. Overseas candidates must have a visa status that allows them to work in the United Kingdom.

The Foundation is an equal opportunities employer. We are committed to promoting diversity in the community, and minorities and individuals of colour (e.g green, grey) are strongly encouraged to apply. Certain candidates may require a period of quarantine before taking up the post. Unfortunately, under current European Union regulations, we are prohibited from employing anything with claws, fangs, or wings. We regret that the volume of applications we receive for these posts does not allow us to respond to each applicant individually.

Duties will include sorting buttons and other objects by colour.