I recently saw a comment online from a woman named Kathryn who posted that a gardening and meditating friend of hers started using "zentomologist" in Berkeley in the 60s or 70s. She posted that it and "zentomology" were "coined by Gene Jackson (an amateur entomologist, passionate gardener, meditation enthusiast, and inveterate punster) in Berkeley in the 70s. Gene passed away in 84, I think."

She also posted "His definition of zentomology was learning to be one with insects instead of trying to kill them. Learn about them, plant catch plants, encourage lady beetles, and have a good time in the garden. I still have the little enamel lapel pin he gave me with "Zentomologist" and a fat yellow and black bumblebee on it." As soon as I read her post I knew I had to find and go thru my old button stash, because I could remember a bunch of buttons with insects on them that I was sure had the "zentomologist" pun on them that I'd loved -- and I was right.

I don't know if these were inspired or made by the same man; they were sold on College Ave when I was in highschool in the late 70s. The seller was a youngish woman with long straight hair who had a small table with a lot of different buttons, and the zentomology ones came with a lot of different insects. I'm certain I got a bee and a ladybug at one time, but the only ones I could find going thru my old button stash are these.

The butterfly has peace signs on its lower wings. Both the butterfly and snail have some bad rust spots showing on the front, and the ant looks pretty good on the front, but the pinback is badly rusted.

They don't have a date or name printed on. The backs are just plain silver backs with pins and no numbers or company name. The buttons are 1" rounds. They're the kind of buttons that are clear plastic over a printed image rather than a painted image, imo.

If anyone else has any of these or knows anything about the seller, I'd love to find out more -- and I'd love to a see a photo of the lapel pin Kathryn mentioned.

My email is the name carys at this domain name.

Kathryn, if you're out there and find this, thank you for sharing your story! I was born in Berkeley and wish I'd known your friend.


UPDATE 30 Jan 2012: I got a lovely note from Gene Jackson's granddaughter who found this site. It was lovely to hear from you, Ann, and THANK YOU!

UPDATE 18 Mar 2012: Ann just mailed me an incredible packet with photos of more of her old button designs, a photo of her grandfather, and an offer of permission to recreate and sell her Zentomologist buttons, if I'd like to! I'll scan the button photos when I'm up to it; I think it would be fun to recreate them. There's some other wonderful stuff, too, and I've written to thank you. And I'm still squeeing!!