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VIRTUAL EVENT: PRESENTATION: Eye of the Expert: Buttons and Bows

Wednesday, March 10, 2021 - 6:00pm to 7:00pm
Registration is requested
Members and Virtual Event Season Pass holders only, with no fee

Eye of the Expert: Buttons and Bows

with Ginny Badgett, John Buchtel, and Mary Warnement

Small things can have BIG stories, as Assistant Curator Ginny Badgett, Curator of Rare Books and Head of Special Collections John Buchtel, and William D. Hacker Head of Reader Services Mary Warnement demonstrate in their exploration of sample books from the BA’s special collections.


Badgett will offer a glimpse into the world of French wallpaper, interior design, and consumer tastes of the 1920s through a dazzling bound volume of 479 colorful block-printed wallpaper samples, including work by the famous Zuber & Company and a representation of Charlie Chaplin in The Kid (1921).  

Buchtel will present Souvenir Products of the City of Industries, Kingsport, Tennessee (ca. 1930). With three book-related products—including what was touted as "America’s Smallest Book" produced in "America’s Largest Book Plant”—the set reveals the inter-relatedness of modern book production and other manufactures.

 Moving to the “Crystal Valley” of what is now the Czech Republic, Warnement will present the Button sample book of the Jos. Riedel Glasfabriken, Polaun (ca. 1935) to explore the story of one of the world’s most renowned glassmaking families, known for both its fine craftsmanship and industrial innovation. 

 Virginia “Ginny” Reynolds Badgett joined the Boston Athenæum as Assistant Curator of Special Collections in January 2020. She is an interdisciplinary scholar of American art, history, and material culture of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Badgett will receive her PhD in the history of art and architecture from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2021. Prior to joining the BA, she was the Provenance Research Fellow at the Birmingham Museum of Art in Alabama and previously held curatorial positions at Winterthur’s Boston Furniture Archive, the Detroit Institute of Arts, James Madison’s Montpelier, and the British Museum.

John Buchtel is Curator of Rare Books and Head of Special Collections at the Boston Athenæum. He previously served as director of the Booth Family Center for Special Collections at Georgetown University and as curator of rare books in the Sheridan Libraries at The Johns Hopkins University. He earned his PhD in English, with a focus on early modern British literature, at the University of Virginia, while also acting as curator of the teaching collections at Rare Book School. He teaches, lectures, and publishes on the history of books and printing, the history of libraries, book collecting, and literary patronage.

Mary Warnement joined the staff of the Boston Athenæum in 2002 and became William D. Hacker Head of Reader Services in 2009. She has an MS in library and information science from Simmons University and an MA in medieval studies from the University of Toronto. Warnement enjoys fielding questions dealing with all time periods across all cultures, not to mention helping readers find what should be next on their list.

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Auto-generated captions are available for most virtual programs. To request live captioning or other accommodations, please contact Hannah Weisman at or 617-720-7617 at least four business days prior to the event.