Long after she’d stopped sewing buttons herself, Emily Graves Williston remained responsible for instructing other employees of the S. Williston Button Co. (See the earlier post, The Button Mill.) According to Baron of Buttons, a highly entertaining, if occasionally spurious unpublished biography of Samuel Williston by Guy Richard Carpenter, class of 1905, Emily told her charges that
“Buttons on a girl’s dress are just as noticeable as her nose. Buttons should be trim and neat and they should set so well that they give a burnish to her whole turnout. One fraying button or one loose button, to my eye, is like a sunburned, peeling nose — I just can’t bring myself to see anything else. Buttons of choice silk and true color make the whole dress seem richer. I like to think all our buttons make folk look and feel richer. Father Payson says that on a girl a pretty button, like a pretty nose, is not to be sneezed at.” (G. R. Carpenter, Baron of Buttons, undated typescript, The Williston Northampton Archives)
One of the things we at Williston Northampton try to instill in our history students is a critical facility concerning information sources: perhaps a healthy dose of skepticism when data or quotes of questionable provenance seem just too good to be true. This would appear to be one of those instances. But it’s still a good quote!
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