From September through April every year the Department of Photographs expands from a team of 6 to 26. We are lucky to be the second year hosts to the Master of Arts in Photographic Preservation and Collections Management program. The MA is a joint program with Ryerson University; the students spend their first year in Toronto and their second year here at Eastman House. Having 20 students around certainly livens things up and they do a tremendous amount work cataloging and researching the collection. Jennifer McInturff, one of the 2009 graduates, did her thesis project on a GEH collection of celluloid medallions and buttons that I am showing a small selection of here. The collection is going to be our next set on the Flickr Commons so this is a sneak peak!
The following is an except from Jennie’s Flickr write-up: Large photographic buttons were popular from 1900 to 1930. In their time the large buttons were commonly referred to as medallions and plaques. Most incorporate a photograph into a decorative border and the back has either a hook for hanging or an easel stand for propping. The borders were mass produced and handpicked by the customer from samples and sample sheets. Buttons that are small enough to fit in a closed fist are most often true buttons with a pin-back, or have mirrors on the back and are referred to as pocket mirrors. Buttons of all kinds were purchased from door-to-door salesmen, photography studios and through catalogs.
Thanks to Jennie for all her hard work!
Jessica Johnston is an Assistant Curator in the Department of Photographs at George Eastman House. She manages numerous exhibitions and projects at the museum including our recent participation on the Flickr Commons.
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