Writing Competition Awards

To write a successful award (easy to understand, enter and judge), an understanding of our  classification is essential. Thorough study of the Official NBS Classification System I srecommended  since major reorganization has taken place.  Information is formatted to facilitate classifying  buttons and writing awards.  Following a brief Overview are four basic sections:
1) General Information for Competition,
2) the Official NBS Classification listing,
3) Glossary of Section/Class Terms, and
4) Glossary of General Terms.

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1) GENERAL INFORMATION FOR COMPETITION includes Writing Awards, Divisions, Size and  Numbers, Judging, Ribbons and Prizes, as well as helpful Guidelines for Competition.

2) THE OFFICIAL NBS CLASSIFICATION is arranged in alphabetical order wherever practical.  Section 1 is Celluloid continuing through Section 14, Wood. Sections for China, Horn,  Vegetable Ivory, and Wood have been added and Enamels revised. Section 15, Other  Materials, includes all materials not listed in Sections 1 through 14. It is important to note that  Assorted Materials (formerly 7‐A) is now designated by Section 1 through Section 15. An  Assorted Materials award will be written as follows: Sec 1 through 15, specialized to the  stated award topic, i.e., Crosses, or Horses, etc.

Section 16, Materials Summary, is new and works basically the same as the familiar Pictorial  Summary. Following the Pictorial sections, and Patterns/Symbols, is an expansive new section  called Specific Types that includes the former Miscellaneous, Shapes, Studios, Backgrounds,  and Inlay & Related Construction Sections. These buttons have specific attributes other than  material or face design. Sections for 18 th  Century, Usage, Complete Summary, and Sets follow,  completing the Division I, III and IX portion of the classification. Division II has revision in its  future. Division IV contains a few new classes and re‐defined links and studs.

The classes in each section are numbered independently. Each class is tied by a dash (‐) to the  section number, like a phone number to an area code. The “zero” (‐0) class is the first class in  most sections and designates an assortment of the entire section. In other words, Section 11‐ 0, Shell Assorted, includes all Section 11 classes. Within a section, there are major classes (in  bold print), sub‐classes, and occasionally, sub‐ sub‐classes. Each time a decimal is added to the  number, the resulting class narrows. For instance, class 6‐4.2.1, gold luster, is a sub‐class of  class 6‐4.2, lusters, which is a sub‐class of class 6‐4, decorative finishes assorted. Rare button  types usually don’t warrant a class of their own but may be used as examples of broader  classes. For example, a white Coralene button could be used (and labeled) under either of two  major classes, Construction assorted (constructed with heat) or Colors Assorted, White.

NOTE: Several major classes occur in multiple material sections, i.e., Back marks, Back types,  Construction, Decorative finishes, Mechanical makeup, Other material embellishment (OME),  Shapes, and Working methods assorted. Definitions of these classes are provided in the  Glossary of Section/Class terms or in the General Glossary at the end of the book.     The four pictorial sections are generally mutually exclusive except for a few buttons  considered “pictorial crossovers” such as a basket of flowers that might fit in Plant life and/or  (pictorial) Objects sections. Focus is the key in pictorials. If the design focuses equally on two  sections, the button may be used in both. Common sense and benefit of the doubt are  encouraged.

There are a few noteworthy changes:

ANIMAL LIFE – Invertebrates assorted is a new class for those animals without backbones. The  Unlisted class has disappeared since all animal life is included in one of the major classes.

OTHER PICTORIALS – To allow maximum use of the vast number of Other pictorials, most  former sub‐classes have become major classes. Some buttons fit into more than one class. A  button depicting a man’s head may be used under Heads, as well as under Men. The new  flexible class, People, allows a sponsor to customize a grouping for an award, such as “People  specialized to men, women, and children.”

3) THE GLOSSARY OF SECTION/CLASS TERMS  defines terms, class by class, wherever clarification  may be needed. Major classes are in bold and underlined; sub‐classes and sub‐ sub‐classes are  indented.

4) THE GLOSSARY OF GENERAL TERMS  lists less common terms and those found in more than  one section. Topics are cross referenced by page number.

Although awards may be written for other divisions, we will limit this discussion to Divisions I, III, and IX.

The following are components of every award:

1) Division. The age of the buttons Div I (old), Di III (modern) and Div IX (age not considered), comes first.  Too many awards are written in Div IX because the sponsor didn’t think it through properly. The Art  Deco style didn’t exist prior to 1918, so the award should be written in Div III, not Div IX. However, if the  buttons desired were produced on both sides of 1918, making it practically impossible to tell the  difference, Div IX is best. Most damascene buttons are modern, but Div I examples exist; to include all  types, Div IX is used.

2) Section/class.  Awards may be general or specific depending on the class(es) designated. “Specialized  to” fine tunes the award. An award for butterflied/moths that excludes larvae is written: Class 17‐4.3.1  (Butterflies/moths) specialized to butterflies/moths only. No caterpillars or larvae. According to our  Glossary of Section/Class Terms, for the Insects assorted class, these extraneous stages of insects are  included unless excluded. Remember, judges don’t have time for research during judging, so awards  should not require scientific knowledge beyond what is common.

3) Size.  Awards may be written to size, but “25 any size” should be avoided if official size groupings are  possible. If an award is challenging, write it as 20 Any size, as 20 is the lowest “official” NBS number.  4) Balance.  Some awards are written to include more than one section/class number by using the “+”  sign. An award for swirlbacks, any color, is written: Classes 6‐2.4(black glass swirlbacks) + 7‐1.4 (clear &  colored glass swirlbacks). What about balance of black to colored? The award may specify (42 small specialized to 21 black + 21 clear & colored). In most cases, balance is assumed unless “no balance  required” is written in the award.

5) Focus.  An award for animal life specialized to black glass is not the same as black glass specialized to  animal life. In the first award the focus is animal life and should represent s many animal classes and  activities as possible. The only material requirement is black glass. The second award seeks the broadest  coverage of black glass types (construction, mechanical makeup, molded surface designs, DF, OME, etc.)  depicting animal life. Winning trays will focus on the primary class but include as many secondary types  as possible.

Not every rule is written, and judges interpret from their own viewpoint, so strive to remove ambiguity.

Think of awards as instructions for entering and judging. Now, go write some interesting awards!

by Barb Barrans

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