‘Button Power’ explores how pin-back buttons have reflected American culture

pin-back buttons

Cover of the new book Button Power by Christen Carter and Ted Hake, which goes on sale October 13, 2020

 NEW YORK – With an itinerary that journeys through campaign rallies, rock concerts and pivotal events of our time, Button Power (Princeton Architectural Press; on-sale October 13, 2020; ISBN: 9781616898700) documents a people’s history of American culture as seen through the pin-back button. Lively commentary from two of America’s foremost button experts, Christen Carter and Ted Hake, explores how the small-but-powerful button has inspired, amused, and captured the spirit of events and movements that reflected society and changed history.

“Social media is today’s most popular platform for self- expression, but the button preceded it as a way to tell others what was on your mind and as a tool to help spread an idea. No other form of wearable expression has yet to replace the humble button – and unlike social media, a button is something you can literally stand behind.” – excerpt from ‘Button Power

Whether supporting women’s suffrage, civil rights, or the ‘60s hippie ethos of peace, love and no nukes, nothing, it seems, has ever presented a more effective statement of one’s own beliefs than a button. In line with the current news focus on protests and presidential elections, Button Power offers a fascinating retrospective on the cultural movements, fads and trends that became part of the American landscape long before social media existed.

pin-back buttons

Sample double-page spread from ‘Button Power’

More than 1,500 beautifully photographed buttons grouped into 12 broad categories are depicted in the high-quality hardbound book’s 192 pages. Artists, athletes, actors, politicians, punk and pop musicians; and product mascots of the past 125 years make cameos, including Rube Goldberg, Muhammad Ali, Wonder Woman, the Ramones, Shirley Chisholm, and the Apollo 11 astronauts, among hundreds more.

The first book of its kind, Button Power is a visual feast of popular art in miniature, with lavishly illustrated spreads enhanced by little-known backstories and entertaining anecdotes from Carter and Hake. Their encyclopedic knowledge spans decades and is summoned with ease and humor. For fans of pop culture, visual culture, and design, this book will be hard to put down.

Button Power (ISBN:9781616898700) by Christen Carter and Ted Hake goes on sale October 13, 2020. The retail price is $24.95. Pre-order now on Amazon, or order author-signed copies online at www.busybeaver.net/buttonpower.


Christen Carter is the founder of Chicago-based Busy Beaver Button Company and has produced more than 50 million buttons for bands, artists, political campaigns, nonprofits and more. In 2010, she started the Button Museum, dedicated to telling American history through pin-back buttons.

Ted Hake is the founder of Hake’s Auctions, America’s first auction house to specialize in pop-culture artifacts. He has written 17 collectors’ guides that span presidential campaign items, vintage Disneyana and comic character toys. Ted was honored with the American Political Items Collectors Lifetime Achievement Award and is a member of the Theodore Roosevelt Association Advisory Board.

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