Today's hottest collectible, as you can well understand, are
items related to America's never-ending WHO'S ON FIRST
presidential election. Like talk-show hosts, comedians and
those making a living in the news business, antique collectors
love hullabaloo. In addition to rarity, age, condition,
historical context, appeal and eye-catching graphics,
controversy can be one of the biggest value determinants in
political souvenirs. For instance: A 1904 button picturing
Teddy Roosevelt having lunch with black educator Booker T.
Washington so outraged bigots it was printed in few numbers.
Today it's worth a hundreds. Recalling the infamous 1948
Chicago Tribune Headline, "Dewey Defeats Truman" brings to
mind a now sought-after button describing under-funded and
underdog Truman's "whistle-stop" (campaigning on a budget from
town to town by train) status: "Confidentially, I'm for
Truman." One the most valuable 1960 Kennedy/Nixon buttons
reads: "Prostitutes Vote for Nixon or Kennedy ... We don't
care who gets in!" In 1976, an ex-Georgia farmer running
against President Gerald Ford poked fun at his own image by
providing walking sticks with a peanut handles to his
supporters. Those canes are more than that Carter nickname
today: $100 plus.
the early 19th century, candidates and causes have been
bolstered and bludgeoned by promotion and
propaganda-especially in the form of today's most popular
collecting category; political buttons. Ferrotypes, the first
generation of buttons, were made by inserting an
office-seeker's photographic tintype into the brass frame of a
small button that could be pinned or tied to a lapel. An
Abraham Lincoln example, and they do appear from time to time,
can fetch over hundred dollars. Mounted paper images protected
by a thin coating of transparent celluloid (early plastic),
were first patented in 1893 and made their political debut
during the McKinley/Bryan elections in 1896 and 1900. Buttons
stamped out of lithographed (printed) tin came into wide use
Keep your eyes open for authentic examples of these political
Non-Button Political Articles: transfer-decorated pottery,
pressed glass, broadsides, clothing, silk banners, ribbons,
message touting flags, parade torches, advertising displays
and other hold-in-your-hand items propagandizing politicians
and political viewpoints. For instance, a circa 1840 cup and
saucer with a transfer decorated image of part of Henry
Harrison's Ohio homestead where he was said to drink sober
apple cider in preference to wine. Although we now equate
the log cabin image to wood-chopping Abraham Lincoln,
William Henry Harrison beat him to the punch 1840 by
successfully campaigning as a humble, log-cabin-livin'
frontiersman. His "Log Cabin and Hard Cider" defeated
incumbent, Martin Van Buren. Bottles, glassware, ironstone
cups and saucers, almanacs and metal disks bearing log cabin
images from the Harrison's campaign are super collectible
Roosevelt and Johnson Jugates from 1912: Side by side
picture buttons of Teddy & his vice-presidential candidate
from the 1912 campaign are very rare.
1896 & 1900 Presidential Campaign Items: Republican William
McKinley favored maintaining a GOLD monetary status.
Democrats and their nominee, William Jennings Bryan argued
for a SILVER status. Resultantly, a great variety of
silverbug and goldbug buttons were produced. Many were cast
in the realistic shapes of gold and silver tinted bugs. Seek
out authentic political objects that are fascinating,
graphically and historically.
1972 Nixon/McGovern Stuff: Although not yet valuable these
collectibles are reflective of an era when America was more
divided than at any time since the Civil War.
McGovern/Shriver promotions geared toward the younger
generation are bursting green with "Peace, Love, Doves and
Trees." A typical Nixon/Agnew button geared toward an older
more conservative audience reads "Nixon, Now More Than
Ever," in traditional red, white and blue.
Anything from the 19th century, or if you're really
optimistic, let's talk 18th century and George Washington,
John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.
Anything to do with this George Bush and Al Gore thing:
Twenty years from now they'll still be talking about it.
That is, if it's resolved by then!
Reprinted with permission
Copyright by Wayne Mattox ©
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