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Cataloguing a button collection: An invaluable reference source.

In these days of databases, websites and ‘the cloud’, I thought I’d show you a wonderful ‘old school’ reference library.

Originally, the work and property of Mr Fred Courtier – one of the most respected, knowledgeable and highly organised hunt button collectors of the end of the 20th century – these are his reference cards, listing his collection at the time, which came to me via the late Neil McShane.  There are approximately 1,000 cards, each stating:

Name e.g.  Cotswold Hunt

Design and construction.  e.g.  One piece, convex brass, struck

Backmark. If applicable. e.g. Pitt & Co.  31, Maddox St.  London or No marking

Source.  i.e. from whom he acquired the button, and/or

Identification.  The person or publication from where the button’s I/d has come. e.g Firmin Pattern Book

and sometimes the date and cost of purchase.  ( For instance, on   he bought a College Valley Hunt button for £5.95)

The cards cover the full alphabet from Aber Valley to Zetland, with a separate card for each variation; and there are some very interesting notes in there, such as a button we often think of as Nairn Harriers, also being listed as an early Northumberland Hunt.

A number also contain examples of Fred’s typos.  Such as the Bisley & Sandhurst, which was recognised as a park of foxhounds, not a pack!    Hover and click over the images below to ‘super-size’ them.

Although these cards form a reference for, what was, just one man’s collection, it still provides a superb source of information to the serious collector, and should anyone reading this want to know if a specific button is in there, and what information its card contains, they only have to make contact with me via Baily’s Hunting Directory, and I will be delighted to share the result, if it’s there.

I realise that, in today’s modern world, this form of record-keeping has little appeal, or maybe practicality when a computer can do so much, but as an example of meticulous work I thought it worth sharing.


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