Plastic Buttons Replaced Seashell Buttons, but Technology Can Be Restored
In What Technology Wants, Kevin Kelly has made the point that most obsolete technologies remain available to satisfy nostalgia, or for more practical uses, if the need arises. Below is another example.
(p. C27) In a tan outbuilding overlooking a pond in northeastern Connecticut, equipment for turning seashells into buttons has lain fallow for nearly eight decades. The building's owner, Mark Masinda, a retired university administrator, is working to transform the site into a tourist attraction.
In the early 1900s, his grandfather William Masinda, a Czech immigrant, supervised a dozen button makers in the building, which is on a rural road in Willington. They cut, drilled and polished bits of shells imported from Africa and Australia to make "ocean pearl buttons" with two or four holes. The area's half-dozen button factories supplemented the incomes of families struggling to farm on rocky terrain.
The Masinda operation closed in 1938, as plastic flooded the market. "The equipment he had just couldn't make the transition," Mr. Masinda said.
. . .
Mr. Masinda is planning to reactivate the equipment and open the site for tours by . . . spring .
For the full story, see:
(Note: ellipses, and bracketed year, added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date DEC. 3, 2015, and has the title "Antiques; Yale Buys Collection of Scattered Medieval Pages; Restoring a Button Factory.")
The Kelly book mentioned above, is:
Kelly, Kevin. What Technology Wants. New York: Viking Adult, 2010.