The 2008 election cycle is upon us and the caucuses and primaries will help choose the next president of the United States. This is an historic event and there will be many opportunities for collecting political memorabilia. But to have the best chance of collecting worthwhile long term collectibles with real value, here are a few hints to observe:
- collect a campaign button for every candidate and try to get the candidate to sign it for you in magic marker, including the third party candidates,
- find the campaign button that is specific to region, state, or local, i.e., “New Hampshire Supports Hillary Clinton” is a local button made in limited numbers and more scarce,
- get the button with the candidates photo
- find the “fantasy” button that lists the front runner with a possible VP candidate,
- collect the candidates that also list a local or state candidate, known as “coattail” buttons
- always pick up third party candidates, particularly with their name and photo
What to Sign:
- Get a candidate to sign items that provide immediate provenance such as an event ticket, program, a bumper sticker, postcard of the area they are appearing, small campaign signs, newspapers of the day of their appearance, press release, etc.
- If they have published a book, a signature in the book is helpful.
- Stay away from outsized items that won’t display well such as very large convention signs, huge event props, very large posters. If you can’t carry it, it shouldn’t be signed.
- If you are collecting for resale, have them sign without an inscription, only their signature.
When having something signed for you, do this:
- Prepare. Attach a yellow ‘stickie’ to your item that says: To Tom’ and have a pen ready.
- When the candidate approaches, give them the item and a pen and say “Good to see you. Hope everything is going well.” They will know what to do and will hand it back when they are finished.
- Keep focused, though. With a crush of people, you could lose your item if you are not concentrating.
Winners and losers:
Real value comes from items signed by the eventual winners, not the runners-up. That is why it is important to get as much signed by as many candidates as possible. Even the candidate that goes on to be vice president has a higher value than those candidates who have failed to make the cut.
Still, a complete collection of all the candidate signed buttons makes for a great collectible later on, because at least one of the candidate has won.
Unless it is really unusual, a glass bowl, a sterling silver something, inaugural items have little collectible value. There are too many made. However, only the official Inaugural Seal items become more collectible than the commemorative items produced and sold by gift companies. The official Congressional Inaugural packets and programs are the most desirable inaugural collectible, except for photos of the new president-elect from on top of the West Front of the Capitol.
Good hunting. Getting good political memorabilia is hard work, but the payoffs can last for years.