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The Case of Boise's Burgled Button Book

George Prentice Sep 4, 2018 13:00 PM
At any given time, Boise Police Department detectives are trying to solve scores of crimes, some more high profile than others. But it’s a fair bet that an Aug. 26 theft at a Boise storage facility is one for the record books. In fact, one of the stolen items is, itself, a book... of buttons. Thieves made off with a cache of high-end electronics, antique firearms and ammunition from the Warm Springs Storage unit, but it’s the loss of the button book that triggers real emotion from owner Douglas Peterson. He teared up on several occasions as he talked about the theft. Yes, the book is extremely valuable—somewhere north of $5,000 according to Antiques Roadshow appraisers when they were in Boise in 2013—but the personal loss, Peterson said, is almost too much to bear.

“My mom had a master’s degree in home economics and started collecting buttons at an early age. She went to a national button show in 1967 where she saw this book,” said Peterson, describing the book as 30 inches tall and about 40 pounds in weight. Inside were nearly 500 buttons. “It was extremely rare, only three in the world, and my mother wanted it desperately. But it was way too much money, and remember, that was back in 1967.”

Steve Peterson
Peterson’s father tasked his children with driving to Vermont in search of the book of buttons, and indeed, the family scrounged up enough money to buy the book as a surprise for Peterson’s mother.


“I’ll never forget that Christmas,” said Peterson, laughing through tears. “My mom spent the whole day apologizing and hugging me, because she thought I had skipped school, when in fact I went on that secret mission to find the button book.”

A BPD detective has been assigned to the case. Peterson added that he’d also contacted an officer with the Idaho State Button Society (yes, that’s a thing) to help spread the word.

“You’ll never know how much that book means to me,” said Peterson.