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WORLD OF HUNTSMAN | Journal

Treasures from Chatsworth
EPISODE 10 – THE MORTLAKE TAPESTRIES

Conceived by Sotheby’s and presented by Huntsman, ‘Treasures from Chatsworth’ celebrates the Cavendish family’s centuries-long passion for art and collecting.

Conceived by Sotheby’s and presented by Huntsman, ‘Treasures from Chatsworth’ celebrates the Cavendish family’s centuries-long passion for art and collecting.

The partnership between Huntsman and the Sotheby’s series, strikes a chord with the heritage that Huntsman represents . The way in which contemporary designs are influenced by those of previous generations of craftsmen resonates with the stories that Sotheby’s has woven through this series of films.

Watch Episode 10 of Treasures from Chatsworth, Presented by Huntsman and Produced by Sotheby’s

OPENING THE BUTTON BOX

Each of these Huntsman stories represent a link that Huntsman holds with each episode in the 13 part original series, ‘Treasures from Chatsworth’, presented by Huntsman and produced by Sotheby’s, allowing you to delve deeper into the rich history and heritage Huntsman has held since 1849.

In a safety deposit box somewhere in London rests a small but heavy treasure trove of glistening silver, naturally tarnished brass, iridescent mother of pearl and moulded horn buttons. The collection has been assembled over many years by Leo A. Daly III, Chairman and CEO of one of the world’s top design firms, LEO A DALY. Some have made their way on to his bespoke Huntsman suits. Many more lie in wait, their material, history or skill having caught the architect’s eye on his travels to Paris, London, Dublin, New York – cities with a tradition of tailoring. We took a dive into this world of wonderful miniatures with Mr. Daly.

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A background in architecture has given Leo Daly a keen eye for detail, and an appreciation of the role that different components play in construction. Each has a purpose: you have to be particular about every single one. It’s the same with vintage buttons. They have a function and a decorative value. And their materials are a key part of their appeal.

“I really became interested when I met the two ladies at Tender Buttons. We’d sit, have lunch and go through all their rare finds.” The store – a New York institution – was opened on a whim by encyclopaedia editor Diana Epstein in 1964. A week later antique restorer Millicent Safro dropped in for a button, helped to tidy up and ended up a partner. It’s still open, on East 62nd Street.

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“My favourites are silver, brass, the ones that are individually carved, or have a story behind them. I feel like I’m wearing history.” The clues are on the button. Ducks for shooting jackets. Initials representing a golf club (the oldest in the world: Royal Blackheath). Hunting club insignia. Silver hallmarks, giving their age away.

“The market is very different now. But years ago people probably had a button jar, if one came loose they’d throw it in, then get rid of them all together. The ladies at Tender Buttons would go through thousands and thousands to get a set. It was their life.”

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Constantly travelling for work, Mr Daly has bought antique buttons in England, the US, India, France and Ireland. Although military buttons are the most available, there are still rarities to find. Like this set from the French Foreign Legion, which ‘took 10 years to gather’.

“I like to keep the original patina on the brass, it’s part of their history. But we do polish the silver and keep them crisp.” At the end of a fitting session, when his garment is ready to be buttoned, Mr Daly will discuss with the cutter which is best for the outfit, considering the cloth, the button’s material and its practicality.

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There’s a balance between function and show with many buttons, as Carol Pierce, Huntsman’s general manager explains. “Often it’s about belonging to a club. The hunt buttons are a good example. They’re passed down through generations but we do get people asking for them. And they’re much harder to find. Now you have to track down the specialist company that holds the die for that club, to stamp the button out.”

Words by Emma Lawson

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