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Logan Square, Humboldt Park, Avondale

Busy Beaver Button Founder Explores 125-Year History Of Pin-Back Buttons In New Book

"Button Power: 125 Years Of Saying It With Buttons" is a celebration of pin-back buttons, covering their 125-year history and cultural relevance.

Busy Beaver Button founder Christen Carter (left) with her book, "Button Power: 25 Years Of Saying It With Buttons."
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LOGAN SQUARE — The founder of Logan Square button manufacturer Busy Beaver Button Co. has released her first book, an exploration of the 125-year history and cultural relevance of pin-back buttons.

Christen Carter hosted a meet the author event Thursday at City Lit Books, 2523 N. Kedzie Blvd., to discuss the book.

“Button Power: 125 Years Of Saying It With Buttons,” was co-written with Ted Hake, owner of Hake’s Auctions. Carter will talk about the cultural value of pin-back buttons and share some of her favorite buttons throughout history, including feminist- and Chicago-themed varieties.

“Buttons are an overlooked, unsung hero,” Carter said. “They tell a people’s history of what was happening at the time … how people decided to communicate the things that were important to them in relation to the world around them. [Whether] it’s a funny one or a serious one, it’s a beautiful little expression piece [and] community builder.”

Carter and Hake published the book in October but haven’t been able to host many in-person events because of the pandemic. The City Lit event is Carter’s neighborhood debut.

Carter said she’s thrilled to be partnering with the Logan Square book store, which recently reopened under new ownership.

Carter’s company, Busy Beaver Buttons, has made pin-back buttons in the neighborhood for more than 25 years and is home to the world’s only button museum. 

Busy Beaver operated out of a small facility for years before expanding to its current location at 3407 W. Armitage Ave. in 2016. The company’s clients run the gamut, from Sub Pop Records to the Women’s March. Recently, Carter and her team launched “I Got Vaccinated” buttons.

Carter’s book highlights 1,500 buttons throughout history, covering everything from Pizza Hut buttons that launched in the 1980s to a “very rare” presidential button from 1920. The book was 10 years in the making, she said.

Buttons, she said, “are surprisingly deep in history.”

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