Friday, August 26, 2016

Sepia Portrait Pinback Button of Edith McCrum Smith

Pinback button of Edith McCrum Smith
One of the items we found in my mother-in-law’s (Mary (Athya) Murphy) possessions after she passed away was this sepia portrait pinback button. The image on the button is Mary’s aunt, Edith McCrum Smith. Edith, the daughter of John Milton Smith and Amanda Larimer (Horne) Smith, was born in Apollo, Armstrong County, Pennsylvania on March 4, 1888. She died from typhoid fever at Mercy Hospital in Pittsburgh on October 24, 1906. At some point in her young life, she went blind as a result of the measles. You can see that Edith’s eyes are closed in the photo.

The same size as a quarter, the pinback button is in good condition, although it has a tiny white dot on the front bottom right edge. You can clearly see the patina, as well as a small amount of rust, on the back of the button. The pin mechanism on the back is still in working order.

Back of pinback button
The history of this button is unknown to me but assumed to have belonged to Edith’s mother Amanda. It may have been worn by Amanda during the mourning period after Edith passed away. The pinback button was most likely passed to Edith’s sister, Bertha Edna Smith, after Amanda passed away in 1943. Bertha was Edith’s only surviving sister. There was a third sister, Helen Margaret Smith, who died in 1913. Of the three daughters born to John and Amanda Smith, Bertha was the only one to survive into adulthood so it makes sense that she would have the pinback button which then passed to her daughter, Mary (Athya) Murphy, in 1979. It came into our possession in 2007.

Assuming all of the above to be true, the pinback button could be as old as 110 years since Edith died in 1906.

Left: Edith Smith
Right: Amanda (Horne) Smith

Left: Bertha Smith
Right: Mary Athya

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