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Pinning Down the Candidates

The Collecting of Campaign Buttons Has Become "America's Last Great Treasure Hunt"
Neil A. Grauer
From the Print Edition:
Demi Moore, Autumn 96

(continued from page 8)

* Rarity also is a key to value. Some buttons, worth a great deal in a rare size, are worth far less in more common dimensions, even if the design is identical.

* To get a feel for the price range of various buttons, become familiar with useful indicators, such as advertisements for items in such publications as APIC's monthly newspaper, The Political Bandwagon; the prices put on items for sale at collectors' meetings; the prices obtained at APIC meetings and conventions; and the prices obtained in mail and phone auctions. Even among experienced collectors, price estimates vary. It can be a volatile hobby.

* Almost all fakes of antique celluloid buttons are actually acetate-covered. Acetate, developed in the late 1930s, has been used nearly exclusively by button makers since 1952. To check, use an incandescent light and tilt the button so the light is reflected off the surface to your eyes. Celluloid has an irregular surface and absorbs light; acetate is almost 100 percent light-reflective.

* New fakes rarely feature old pins. The difference between
an old pin and a new one is obvious.

* There were no presidential pin-back buttons prior to 1896, celluloid or lithograph.


* The problem of fakes should not be exaggerated. In 99 out of 100 cases, items have not been reproduced, and most reproductions that do exist are of commonplace buttons. High-profile, extremely valuable buttons are rarely faked, since experts would examine them too closely. Usually reproductions were made as commemorative items, often as an advertising gimmick, without any intention to deceive.


Mail auctions are a main source for political
Americana. Among the leading ones:

Al Anderson
P. O. Box 644, Troy, Ohio 45373
phone: 513/339-0850, fax: 513/339-8620
Subscription rate (U.S.): $20 for three issues of catalog,
$37.50 for six issues; overseas: $30 for three issues

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