So you think you know political collectibles? What’s hot. What’s not. And most importantly, what they’re worth.
WorthPoint’s political-collectibles specialists—Jim Warlick, Tom Carrier and John Olsen—are set to test your knowledge. Answer the questions below, and win a round of applause if you do well.
These are great examples of unusual political items offered in the early 20th century. Two glass paperweights
were auctioned, both having photographs of presidents applied and sealed under the base. One is a 3-inch square featuring William McKinley, and the other is a 2.5-inch rectangular example with Warren G. Harding. They are both obviously not campaign related, but commercially produced items sold in gift stores. So, what was the final bid price as sold by Cowan’s Auctions
Harding and McKinley paperweights
American Politics guide
Not everything can be specific to a political campaign. At times, there are equally important collectibles in the pamphlets, newspapers, books and other ephemera that describes a campaign season. This particular item is a pamphlet
titled “American Politics, Campaign Guide for the Presidential Election of 1888,” published by Harkness Bros. of Council Bluffs, Iowa.
This campaign featured Benjamin Harrison and Grover Cleveland. Incumbent president Grover Cleveland won the popular vote that year but lost the electoral vote, something that wouldn’t happen again until 2000. This League of Women Voters-type guide sets up the campaign issues rather well. What was the final bid price for this campaign piece of ephemera as realized by Proxibid in 2006?
Alf Landon pinback
It was the election of 1936, the beginning of the end of the Great Depression. Incumbent president Franklin D. Roosevelt was re-nominated by the Democrats. Gov. Alf Landon of Kansas would be nominated by the Republican Party. He would be soundly defeated, but the sunflower, the state flower of Kansas and a continuing motif of his campaign, would prove to be a popular collectible.
This Young Republican 1-inch pinback button is just one of many different, but distinctive designs that incorporate the sunflower. When it was auctioned by Proxibid in 2007, what was the final hammer price?
Alf Landon pinback button
1908 Yates Republican collection
Political collectors will usually not come across only one item, but an entire box or collection of them all at once. It is up to Worthologists to determine the value of them as a collection right on the spot. This large collection of buttons includes a 1904 Yates Campaign Committee
gilt button on ribbon with metal thread, a 1904 Republican National Convention pin, various buttons, some from the 1890s, plastic elephant pins and compass, and assorted other ribbons, pins and labels” as outlined by the original lot by Ivey-Selkirk Auctioneers
in 2006. If you had to guess the final bid of this lot, what would it be?
1904 Yates campaign collection
John C. Fremont, known as the Great Pathfinder, was the very first candidate for president nominated by the new Republican Party in 1856. He lost to James Buchanan. This lot of three items are from his 1856 presidential campaign—a printed silk ribbon in black on white, a Carte de Visite (CDV) of a uniformed engraving of Fremont with printed signature and an 8-foot brass campaign token of Fremont with the legend “Fremont Born Jan. 21, 1813” on the obverse and a winged eagle atop a globe with “Our Country” surrounded by 13 stars on the reverse. It probably isn’t fair to include all three items, except this is how it was sold as a lot. What is the value of these three items by Cowan’s Auctions in 2005?
Great Pathfinder collectibles
Women’s suffrage button
Issue campaign buttons, like this Votes For Women, are very collectible. While various countries and colonies gave women the vote very early, the United States gave suffrage to women only after the adoption of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution in 1920. This plain green-and-black celluloid pinback button dates from 1918 and is in rather good condition overall. What was the final hammer on this button sold by Proxibid in 2006?
1918 Votes for Women button
Teddy Roosevelt button
Theodore Roosevelt is a highly collectible political figure. This pinback button shows a hand holding five cards. One has a picture of Teddy Roosevelt, and the other four cards have slogans that say “Sound Money,” “Expansion,” “Protection” and “Prosperity.” At the bottom is “Stand Pat!” The reverse shows that the button is “Compliments of ‘The Hub’ Ogden, Utah.” What was the final auction price by Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles in 2008 for this Theodore Roosevelt pinback?
Teddy Roosevelt pinback button
William Jennings Bryan
William Jennings Bryan was a pivotal presidential candidate in 1896, spotlighting the difficulties of the everyman in everyday life. He advocated changing the country to a silver standard where there would be 16 ounces of silver coinage for every ounce of gold. Although he did not succeed, his slogan, “16 to 1,” still resonates as a powerful populist message.
This large 1.75-foot William Jennings Bryan clock-faced button has the clock hands pointed to the time of 16 to 1 to illustrate the main issue of this campaign. What was Cowan’s final auction price in 2004?
Bryan clock-faced button
Nixon Tie Clip
JFK was the first president to wear cufflinks that showed the presidential seal on the obverse and an engraved presidential signature on the reverse. Presidents Nixon and Johnson gave them away as gifts. This tie clip was issued as an official presidential gift by Richard Nixon in the 1970s. What is its value?
Nixon presidential tie clip
In the 19th century, presidential campaigns relied on decorative and elaborate banners to ballyhoo their candidates. They were carried through the streets in large parades, hung on buildings or across broad avenues in big cities. This particular campaign banner is from the 1845 presidential campaign of James K. Polk and George M. Dallas. What is the most recent auction value for this historic memorabilia?
1845 Polk-Dallas campaign banner
Win with Ike
Vari-Vu was a political button maker that used a unique twist. Turn its button one way, and you saw an image. Turn it another way for another image or slogan. This is called a flasher button in the trade. This particular flasher button was used in the 1956 Eisenhower campaign. It shows a grinning Eisenhower and the slogan “Win with Ike.” What is the value of this button?
1956 Eisenhower flasher pin
A. $35 to $45
B. $75 to $95
C. $20 to $30
1908 William Jennings Bryan
One of the easiest ways to commemorate a political event is with a postcard such as this one from the 1908 Democratic National Convention in Denver. The DNC was again held in Denver exactly 100 years later. The 1908 Democratic nominee was William Jennings Bryan, who is shown on this card riding a donkey into Denver with the slogan “Our Turn Next.” What is the value of this colorized postcard?
1908 Bryan campaign postcard
A. $20 to $30
B. $15 to $20
C. $7 to $12
And the answers are:
American Politics guide B. $12.50
Presidential paperweights A. $33 for both
Alf Landon pinback B. $5
1908 Yates Republican collection C. $1,100
Fremont campaign B. $345
Women’s suffrage button C. $15
Teddy Roosevelt button Answer: B. $200
William Jennings Bryan C. $1,380
Nixon Tie Clip C. $225
Polk/Dallas B. $522
Win with Ike Because it is not particularly scarce, it’s C. $20 to $30, when in good condition
1908 William Jennings Bryan Not particularly scarce, but still unusual, the value is: C. $7 to $12
How did you do?
None right. Don’t despair. Visiting WorthPoint will take you to the top of the political-collectibles class in no time.
One right. One’s better than none. Try, try again.
Two right. Good job, but keep learning. WorthPoint is a great resource.
Three right. You’re practically at the top of the class. Aim for a perfect score next time.
Four right. A wow.
Five right. A double wow.
Six right. That’s an impressive score.
Seven right. Excellent.
Eight right. You may be a grandmaster of political-collectibles knowledge.
Nine right. Only one word describes this—UNBELIEVABLE
Ten right. You, my friend, you’re off the charts.
Eleven right. We are in awe.
Twelve right. Is there no stopping you?
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