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Tips for Presidential Campaign Collectors

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Bryan/Kern 1908 Jugate pin. 

McGovern pin showing celebrity supporters Barbra Streisand, Carol King and James Taylor. PHOTO CREDIT: Hake’s Americana, Geppi’s Entertainment Auctions, 3679  Corncord Road, York, PA .17402

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Tips For Presidential Campaign Collectors

As seen in The Antique Shoppe Newspaper, March 2008

Just as there are winners and losers in campaigns you may be surprised to learn that collectibles depicting the losers are often winners. One example is multicolor jugate, c. 1908 button depicting William Jennings Bryan, democratic presidential candidate and his running mate John W. Kern. It could sell at auction for $500 or more. Another winning-loser would be a button showing James M. Cox , the democratic nominee for President, with Franklin D. Roosevelt for Vice President. While they both lost the election a button with their likenesses can sell for $10,000 to $150,000.

According to Ted Hake, who specializes in political item auctions can tell you, “an election year creates an interest in our political history and in collecting.”

Political items can be a serious investment. Hake’s first purchase was a McKinley “Protection To American Industry” papier mach’e parade horn, c. 1896. He didn’t pay much but today it could sell for $2,000, if you could find one.

CLUES: Items were made in so many categories that even a beginner can specialize. However, this doesn’t apply to 19th and early 20th century items. A good beginners category would be buttons. Winners, losers, slogans, third party, jug ate(with two candidate likenesses) and specific event buttons are affordable. The specific event buttons, made in a small quantity, can be rare and costly. These would be for a one day appearance while on a tour. Among the most valuable of these are the ones with a date and place.

Least expensive are name buttons that have a name, nickname, initials. Slogan buttons can show the humorous aspects of politics. One example, “Mondale Eats Quiche” or during the Franklin Roosevelt-Wendell Wilkie campaign, one pin referring to Eleanore Roosevelt stated “We Don’t Want Eleanore Either”

There is nothing new about celebrities supporting their favorite candidates. When Thomas McGovern ran for President in 1972, Barbra Streisand, James Taylor and Carol King’s likenesses were on a pin supporting him. It could sell for $200 or more these days.

Posters and banners have always played an important role in political campagins since the mid-19th century. Made to be disposable when all the shouting was over, they were of paper and cloth. Few early examples have survived. Some from the 19th to early 20th century can sell for over a thousand dollars. However if the candidate is still popular with collectors, such as John F. Kennedy, it could sell for sever hundred dollars. Or, controversial, like Richard Nixon, the price range could be from $50 to several hundred.

According to Hake the “big five”, most popular, Presidential subjects, still available,are Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy.

Best advice, start scooping up anything and everything relating to the coming Presidential election and stash it away. It could send your grandchildren to college in another 20 years.


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