One of my hobbies is collecting political memorabilia. The first item I acquired was an “I Like Ike” button. A friend gave the button to me in 1956 during President Dwight Eisenhower’s campaign for re-election. It wasn’t until the 1960 election that I actually began to collect.
The campaign button, as we know it today, dates back to 1896. At that time, they were celluloid. They were made in three parts: a metal back, a paper with picture and writing and a cover of celluloid on top. Lithograph buttons were made starting in the 1920’s. The method used was to print on the metal without using paper or celluloid.
Until 1896, there were metal buttons with a loop on the back to sew onto clothing. The early items were usually made for a sitting President of the U.S. The 1840 election marks the first mass market campaign when people all over the U.S. were involved in the election. There are many items supporting William Henry Harrison under $100 each.
What to collect is matter of personal preference. Some people collect items about one candidate. Others collect an item from each election. Some collect Third Party items (all parties with the exceptions of Democrats and Republicans). Others collect items about hopeful candidates, those who run for office and fail to be nominated at the convention. In 1945, the American Political Items Collectors (APIC) was formed. APIC has a Web site with collecting information. It has helpful information about “fake” political collectible items. The organization publishes a quarterly magazine, The Keynoter, and a monthly newspaper, The Political Bandwagon. On the Web site, you’ll find a calendar of shows. There’s a national show each year. This year the show is during the last week in July in Nashville, Tennessee.
When one thinks of campaign items, one usually thinks of buttons. However, there are many other items to collect. They include but aren’t limited to the following: campaign posters, postcards, plates, salt and pepper shakers, banks, clocks, watches, matchbooks, lighters, toys, pennants, ribbons, umbrellas, paper weights, license plates and bumper stickers.
Knox County Public Library has many books about collectibles. You’ll find them in the Dewey Decimal Classification of 745. A few popular titles are “Kovel’s Antiques and Collectibles Price List,” “Miller’s Collectibles Handbook and Price Guide” and “Miller’s Collectibles Handbook.”