Bonhams to sell extraordinary collection of hunt buttons

  • An extraordinary collection of more than 900 hunt buttons, worth nearly £5,000, is up for auction at Bonhams Sporting Sale in Edinburgh (30 October).

    Tim Easby, director of the Master of Fox Hounds Association, said that the collection was remarkable.

    “These buttons could tell a significant part of the history of hunting in this country,” he said.

    The collection was assembled by the late Neil McShane, a world expert in hunt buttons, who began collecting after finding an assortment of British hunt buttons in an antique shop in France.

    It will be sold in 5 lots, with a combined estimated value of £3,400 to £4,800. It covers all the major hunts in Great Britain and Ireland as well as several buttons from overseas.

    The largest lot — more than 400 buttons worth around £1,500 to £2,000 — comes with a numbered copy of the second and definitive edition of Mr McShane’s book, Hunt Buttons, the Buttons of the Hunts of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, published posthumously this year.

    The collection covers cuff and coat buttons, from Foxhounds, Beagles, Harriers, Bassets, Bloodhounds, Draghounds, Minkhounds and Otterhounds.

    Hunt button dealer and collector Anne Corbett said that it was “without doubt one of the most extensive [collections] in the UK”.

    “It includes buttons dating back to the mid-18th century up to the late 20th century, when traditional button-making methods were mostly lost to the modern laser-engraved buttons — which he definitely disapproved of!” she said.

    Bonhams Sporting specialist Henry Baggott said, “Neil McShane was a first class horseman… an avid huntsman and hunted with five packs in Britain and Ireland.

    “Through his love of hunting he started to build this wonderful collection of hunt buttons, a subject on which he became an expert.

    “It is unlikely that anyone could build up such a collection again unless, of course, someone buys all five lots at the auction.”

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