Anyone who has been involved with collections over a certain period of years has usually amassed an impressive combination of resource material, other collectors, dealers, and organizations to help learn more about their area of interest. For me, its no different.
I worked my first political campaign in Cleveland, Ohio for a Common Pleas Judge in 1980 and worked my final campaign in 1996 for a County Board Supervisor in Arlington County, Virginia. In between I either worked for or volunteered for nearly 3 dozen local, county, state and national Democratic campaigns, worked directly as a staff member for the Democratic National Committee, as a volunteer at the White House, managed Political Americana, a memorabilia store specializing in early Americana and political campaign items as well as an old and rare bookstore that specialized in early and contemporary American history.
In between, I have written and had published many unique stories on political collectibles and led historic tours through the White House for the White House Curator and the U.S. Secret Service. My political collection other than my own material for the campaigns I worked for began with items from President Jimmy Carter’s White House and led to evaluating the collections of others as a dealer and now as a Worthologist for WorthPoint.com.
All of these experiences brought me into contact with fellow collectors, organizations, the White House permanent staff, military personnel, auction houses, museums, government agencies, writers, publishers, the U.S. Park Service, foundations, politicians, congressional staff and so many more. They all help build confidence that a question can be answered.
Some of the resources I use to help evaluate items are the following reference books:
“Medals of the United States Mint” published by the Bureau of the Mint, U.S. Department of the Treasury. It is a complete compilation of every U.S. Mint medal being sold to the public as of 1969.
“The President’s Medal 1789-1977″, by Neil MacNeil published in 1977 by the Smithsonian Institution Press and deals with all of the official presidential inaugural medals, buttons, ribbons and items since 1789 up until Jimmy Carter.
“The Eagle and the Shield”, by the American Revolution Bicentennial Administration, Department of State published in 1976 tells the story of the creation of the Great Seal of the United States, the seal of the president, vice president and the Department of State.
“Presidential and Campaign Memorabilia” by Stan Gores and published Wallace-Homestead Book Company in 1988 is only one of so many similar political items price guides available to the collector.
“Official White House China: 1789 to the Present” by Margaret Brown Klapthor published as a second edition in 1999 features the official china for every White House Administration through Bill Clinton.
“Season’s Greetings from the White House: The Collection of Presidential Christmas Cards, Messages and Gifts” by Mary Evans Seeley published by A Presidential Christmas as a fifth edition in 2005. The title really says it all.
A couple of organizations that help me with political and presidential collectables, too:
The American Political Items Collectors at http://www.apic.us
The North American Vexillological Association at
http://www.nava.org for flags, banners, campaign textiles
And don’t forget about attending all local, regional and national collectible shows. Making contacts there is a good place to start.
So collect your own resources or tell us what resources you rely on for your presidential or White House collection.