Political Memorabilia



2015-06-26 10:44:35

Political Memorabilia (also known as campaign memorabilia or political collectibles) is defined as any item related to the campaign of a candidate running for public office. These items may include the campaign (or political) button, the political poster, political jewelry (earrings, cufflinks, broaches), metal coins, badges, plaques, photography items, textiles and clothing, paper ttems (postcards, donation certificates, convention tickets, etc.), kitchenware, handmade items, automotive items (such as vanity plates), and office or school items.

These items can range in value from as little as 10 cents, to millions of dollars, and are therefore among the most collectible items on the market today.

Political buttons

Main article: Pinbacks

Political buttons are arguably the most desired political memorabilia item.

The modern political button was developed during the 1896 Presidential election, when the celluloid button first came to prominence. Among the earliest manufacturers of these celluloid buttons was the Whitehead and Hoag Co. of Newark, New Jersey. It patented the celluloid button-manufacturing process in 1896.

After this process became commonplace, the manufacture of metal tokens and medals decreased significantly. The buttons of this period are renowned for their bright colors, and are considered among the most desirable buttons to collectors.

After World War I, companies began making buttons and pinbacks out of lithographed sheets of metal, which were pressed into button shape. This button manufacturing process is still the norm today.

Other types of buttons included the "flasher buttons", which became popular in the 1950s-60s. These buttons will display different images or messages when rotated. These buttons are also known as "lenticular" pieces. One of the primary creators of these buttons was the Vari-Vue company of New York City.

Political Jewelry

Political jewelry items are a type of campaign item which both endorsed a candidate and functioned as useful dress accessories.

These pieces were particularly popular during the 1950s and 60s, during the campaigns of U.S Presidents such as Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, Adlai Stevenson, and John F. Kennedy.

These campaigns produced such items as: bracelets, earrings, broaches, patches, pendants, rings, tie tacks, cufflinks, money clips, watches, watch fobs, thimbles, pocket mirrors, combs, nail files, powder pompacts, and tie clips.

Political medals, "coins", badges, and plaques

Metal political items are among the earliest mass-produced United States political items. Some of these pieces were used as money. Others were worn on outer garments, carried as pocket tokens, or simply displayed with pride on shelves or walls.

They may have been given away or sold to anyone, or only worn by the party's official campaign delegates. They might even be carried privately and secretly to show or identify fellow supporters. Ultimately, they could be used to criticize and ridicule opponents, or praise candidates and simply display party loyalty.

Among the most collectible of the later metal badges are delegate badges which were worn at Party Conventions to identify them and ensure they have proper voting rights.

Another of the more collectible later metal items are political inauguration medals. These medals honor newly elected Presidents. These medals have become collectible because they were only produced for a short window of time, and had a small production run. The U.S mint also makes inauguration medals, but they have become less collectible, as the Mint offers re-strikes that are difficult to differentiate from originals.


Ribbons were some of the earliest campaign pieces to be worn pinned to clothing. They were clear and immediate expressions of partisan's political support. Even with increased use of photography, ribbons remained popular throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.

Usually, the candidates' pictures and/or campaign slogans were printed directly on the ribbons.

Ribbons often included references to businesses and outside supporters, and these sponsored items are among the most desirable. Another type of ribbon which have become increasingly desireable are the inaugural ribbons, that is ribbons made specifically for the inauguration of a newly-elected President.

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