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Political Collectibles -- History of Campaign Buttons

Guest Author Ron Wade

George Washington ButtonIn a time when people think of a Nixon button as being an antique, you might expect that political campaign buttons or pins are a modern device, conceived by some media representative to boost name recognition. As a result, it comes as a surprise to many that George Washington wore the first political button in 1789 at his first Inauguration in New York. He, and many present, wore buttons, but these custom buttons were clothing buttons made of brass and proudly reading "G.W.-Long Live the President", modeling the phrase "Long live the King." Clothing-type buttons continued to be used by citizens in a very young United States, oftentimes with the name of a hero like Andrew Jackson conservatively placed on the reverse side of the button. Since most campaigns for the Presidency didn't involve active campaigns, as we know them today, political memorabilia for the early Presidents consisted of the buttons and silk ribbons.

Vintage Celluloid ButtonWhat we now know as a campaign button didn't come about until 1896 with the patent by the now famous Whitehead and Hoag Company. The device was made of 4 pieces sandwiched together -- a piece of metal on which was placed a printed image with a slogan or photo of 1896 candidate for President William McKinley or his Democratic opponent, William Jennings Bryan. On top of that printed image was a thin piece of see-through celluloid and all of this was placed together by a machine with a small metal pin attached on the reverse. The 1896 discovery of campaign buttons was so popular that now, some 106 years later, buttons from the McKinley-Bryan race are still fairly common and can be bought for as little as $10, although most buttons are much more than that.

For the rest of this article please see:
http://collectibles.about.com/library/weekly/aa102602a.htm

Political Collectibles -- Lithograph Buttons

Guest Author Ron Wade

Vintage Celluloid ButtonAnother 20 years or so passed before a two-piece custom button was created with just one single piece of metal used with the lithograph printing made directly on the metal piece and the same type pin used on the reverse. These are still in use but the cost of initial setup for production of "litho" pins is such that these pins are produced when a run of thousands of buttons is needed. Celluloid custom buttons can be produced far less expensively when only a small run is needed, such as for a local headquarters.

For the rest of this article please see:
http://collectibles.about.com/library/weekly/aa102602b.htm



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