Before the election in 2008, WorthPoint Worthologist and presidential memorabilia expert Jim Warlick’s Button Poll predicted that Barack Obama would become the 44th president of the United States based on sales of the candidate’s collectibles.
On Jan. 20, Warlick’s forecast—as well as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s dream of racial unity and reconciliation—will come to fruition as the inauguration of America’s first president of African-American descent is held on the Capitol steps before the eyes of the world. Obama’s unprecedented presidency will resonate throughout history, and undoubtedly, the material evidence of his victory, swearing-in and presidency will be treasured for generations to come.
As the owner, producer and curator of the American Presidential Experience’s InauguralFest and with his store, Political Americana, located literally just down the street from the White House, rest assured that Warlick will be at the center of Tuesday’s events (and the inevitable flood of “Obamabilia”) as an estimated crowd of two to five million will be in Washington, D.C., as Obama takes the oath of office.
Crystal paperweight with 2009 inaugural seal
Presidential memorabilia, like many collectibles, can serve as social barometers and indicators of an ongoing narrative describing the times we lived in, are living in and will live in as the future approaches. It is little wonder, then, that “Obamabilia” speaks to messages of hope and change in a dark economic and geopolitical climate.
Jim Warlick’s work in the political-collectibles field as a retailer and an acknowledged authority has helped to preserve this ongoing narrative. From saving campaign literature in childhood to selling buttons at the 1980 Democratic National Convention and on through the opening of his Political Americana store, Warlick’s involvement with political collecting has been lifelong. He has parlayed his keen understanding of the presidency’s significance into a success measured more in the preservation of America’s political heritage and the extension of the presidential experience to everyday Americans than in sales or personal gratification.
Autographed Obama picture
“I’ve always been a student of American political history,” says Warlick. “Being a part of political campaigns and collecting early American political memorabilia, I’ve learned more about American history than I ever did in school. Collecting and documenting political memorabilia is a great way to preserve American history for future generations to share and learn from.”
Those visiting D.C. next week will have an opportunity to share in Warlick’s passion as part of the larger festivities that will be occurring throughout the nation’s capital not only at his Political Americana and five official souvenir store locations selling inauguration memorabilia, but also at the American Presidential Experience’s InauguralFest. As did visitors to the American Presidential Experience in Denver last August during the Democratic National Convention, those attending InauguralFest will get a hands-on look at three centuries worth of presidential memorabilia and collectibles including scale-model replicas of Air Force One and the Oval Office.
A John-John pose in the Oval Office replica
From an exhibit of First Ladies’ gowns to one of the infamous Florida voting machines that introduced the phrase “hanging chads” to the world, the range of exhibits that Warlick has curated tells not only the story of the American presidency but also of the nation itself—a story that will reach one of its defining climaxes as the son of a white Kansas woman and a black Kenyan man accedes to the most powerful office in the world.
First Ladies' gowns
It is a historic moment in American history, and Jim Warlick will be there as it happens to collect, identify and share the significant artifacts that will capture the spirit of this turning point in our national, cultural and social narrative.
The American Presidential Experience’s InauguralFest is located at the old Washington Convention Site at 1001 H. St. NW Washington, DC (Metro Center subway stop). It is open every day from 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Jan. 16 through Jan. 23 and from 9 a.m.-5.p.m. Jan. 24. For tickets and further information, visit the InauguralFest Web site.
The Political Americana store is located at 1331 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20004. Four other locations selling official inauguration memorabilia are in Washington, Virginia and Maryland. Visit www.officialsouvenirs.com, www.politicalamericana.com , email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 202-737-7730 for more information.
Other articles about Jim Warlick and political collectibles:
Jim’s WorthPoint Worthologist profile
Jim’s WorthPoint blogs
Warlick profile by Mark Jaffe
Top Obama collectibles
The American Presidential Experience
WorthPoint at the American Presidential Experience (video)
Jim Warlick’s Political Americana (video)
WorthPoint—Get the Most from Your Antiques & Collectibles