What approach do you take to collecting hunt buttons? Some take the ‘got to have them all’ approach, which can end up a very expensive and life-long hobby. So, how can one narrow down the search? Some apply a filter by type of hound, others a period-specific, others the locality-based (e.g. East Anglia, Wales, The Shires). An interesting sub-section to look at is the quality of workmanship to be found in some buttons from around the mid-1800’s to (say) the inter-war years where the amount of detail and finesse employed by die-cutters led to multiple levels of engraving. Some buttons have more than one pattern in the integral field, such as the Vine, and the Llangibby & Chepstow. Others contain very detailed and true depictions of locations, as can be seen in the Pakshi Hunt button, where the background is a true representation of the Padma River and the old Lalon Sha bridge. Detailed foliage can be seen in both the Mr St. Maur’s and the Fife Hunt buttons. Quarry animals feature heavily, of course, as shown in the Down Royal and the Apse Manor Harriers buttons.
Luckily, the art is not entirely lost, if it is expensive to produce; and the Old North Bridge Hunt button is a fairly recent (by comparison) example that proves it can still be done.
Images courtesy of the Wolsey, and the Thomas-Davies collections, A Private Collector, and with the permission of the McShane family