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Phooey Smileys Button Museum
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Phooey button back Smileys Button Museum
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Image Description: 

Yellow button with a smiley face that has its tongue sticking out. The illustration and lettering are in black.

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(union bug)

Curl Text: 

Green Duck Div. of ERO Hernando, Miss.

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The classic yellow smiley face is comprised of a yellow circle, two black dots for eyes, and a black arc ending in serifs for a mouth. It was designed in 1963 by commercial artist, Harvey Ross Ball. Ball was commissioned by The State Mutual Life Insurance Company to create a happy face to raise the morale of their employees. His version was created in 10 minutes. The design was printed onto more than 50 million buttons. Neither Ball nor the company copyrighted this smiley, so it was continually used by other businesses in their promotions.
The design and concept is quite simple and was definitely used before Ball’s 1963 version. However, his has become the most iconic. Variations have been used for advertising campaigns and in popular culture ever since.

“Phooey” is an expression used to show disapproval, disdain, or disbelief. Although it has weaned in popularity lately, it is still used by cartoon character, Donald Duck.


About Harvey Ball. (n.d.). Retrieved September 12, 2020, from

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