Why would someone build an entire factory for making abandoned buttons?
January 23, 2020 11:21 AM   Subscribe

A photograph supposedly showing “millions” of colorful buttons littering a dilapidated staircase has been circulating on social media for several years, attached to the claim that the image was taken inside an abandoned button factory. Snopes checked out the claim, tracked down the original Instagram post from an urban explorer, and an extensive Greek article with another explorer's photos (Google auto-translation), and the actual factory in Google streetview. The Greek article names the button company/ factory as Nina, that it started manufacturing buttons in the 1940s, and that buttons produced by this company “were placed on the clothes of half of Greece in the 1960s and 1970s.” [Via Mltshp]
posted by filthy light thief (15 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
 
Post title nicked from a comment by some bloke named joshmillard.

Final note, for posterity: Google currently includes a label for the building as Κλωστουφαντουργία Τρεις Αστέρες (Three Stars Textile), and the building is in Πατήσια (Patisia or Patissia; Wikipedia), a neighbourhood of central Athens, Greece.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:24 AM on January 23


hahaha!

i like those crossover posts...
posted by growabrain at 11:26 AM on January 23 [2 favorites]


The Greek article names the button company/ factory as Niva,

Actually Nina, ν is the Greek lowercase n.
posted by each day we work at 11:48 AM on January 23 [4 favorites]


Thanks! Google auto-translate caught that, but I incorrectly trusted Snopes over Google's auto-translation.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:53 AM on January 23


Post title nicked from a comment by some bloke named joshmillard

i don't know why seeing that dumb joke show up on the front page has me cackling so hard but i am and i think you
posted by cortex at 12:53 PM on January 23 [1 favorite]


[and i fixed that spelling error, good catch each day we work]
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:55 PM on January 23


I'm going to put my bet on staged, at least in the sense that those buttons had a lot of help being spread so evenly across the stairs, and either by the photographer or not long before. There's not visible dust on them, and I'd expect that there would be a path cleared in the middle of the stairs by urbex people going up and down if they had been there for long.
posted by tavella at 1:12 PM on January 23 [1 favorite]


To that point, from Snopes:
Dec_Des also said that the photograph wasn’t staged, and that the buttons were “all over the top floor in plastic bags decayed and opened with that result and all over the stairs.”
If Dec_Des, the original photographer, came from another direction, those could be photographed as found.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:19 PM on January 23 [2 favorites]


growabrain, indeed! I dig the photos you find and share, and I have fun pulling out longer stories.

cortex, happy to lighten your day with your own words ;)
posted by filthy light thief at 1:22 PM on January 23 [1 favorite]


Mmm. A bunch of bags at the top of the stairs would result in heaps and a few scatterings as they slowly fell apart. The scene as photographed says much more "gleefully heaved from the top of the stairs by visitors".
posted by tavella at 1:30 PM on January 23 [1 favorite]


It's much the same at any other popular urban decay locale -- all those carefully posed dolls in Chernobyl apartment blocks, etc. Not staged in the sense of stuff being brought in from the outside, but even before Instagram, photographers were moving stuff around at these sites to get the proper misery porn look, and it's only gotten worse since Instagram.
posted by tavella at 1:33 PM on January 23 [2 favorites]


Photographers during the civil war moved bodies around on the battlefield to punch up their compositions.
posted by octothorpe at 2:02 PM on January 23 [4 favorites]


Greek officials have been contemplating what to do with the land it sits on since at least 2015

They could auction off lots of buttons while they decide. These are internet-famous buttons!

When I see photos of abandoned perfectly usable items, my first instinctive reaction is to feel bad that they're being wasted.
posted by confluency at 2:16 AM on January 24 [2 favorites]


tavella: "A bunch of bags at the top of the stairs would result in heaps and a few scatterings as they slowly fell apart."

It depends on the size of the bags, I would think. A bunch of garbage-bag sized bags, sure, but stacks of ton-sized bags bursting at the seams could cause a pretty effective flood of buttons.
posted by Bugbread at 5:27 PM on January 24


During the 90's I visited the 'Button Factory', a squatted former button factory, that was apparently also full of abandoned buttons when it was first squatted. This does not suprise me. At one point in my squatting career we squatted a bank and there was money eveywhere (including the vault). Not huge sums but you could pretty much guarantee if you opened a drawer and pulled out its contents you could find some small change that had gone astray. It was odd to find but the sums involved where likely less than the cost of paying someone to scrabble around and find it all, so it makes a kind of sense.
posted by tallus at 4:25 AM on January 26 [3 favorites]


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