Presidential election seasons pique the interest or stimulate the collecting compulsion of political junkies and history buffs. Such was the case in 1972 when I purchased my first political campaign item at a flea market. By fall 1975, as unknown Jimmy Carter rose in curiosity and popularity, I was determined to acquire as many of his buttons as possible. Discouraged by the proliferation of pins from innumerable sources, I realized my goal was unattainable. This was the beginning of several shifts in collecting interests over the next four decades.
In the 1980s, Teddy Roosevelt captured my attention, as his dynamic persona left an imprint during my school days. This interest was buttressed by the colorful array of items from his campaigns for Governor and President offered at political memorabilia shows. Then, after reading The Women of Seneca Falls, I began adding “Votes for Women” badges, posters and ephemera to my collections. This was followed by Abraham Lincoln (although the higher values limited my acquisitions) and presidential autographs.
So how does one with budget limitations manage to build a collection of increasing rarity and value? During the í80s, I started selling my Jimmy Carters, duplicates and other candidates of less interest in order to afford my expensive tastes. Many advanced collectors follow this path.
And the question arises, “Where do you find all this stuff?” In the pre-internet days, political memorabilia was more available at antique shows, shops, and flea markets. These days, the internet rules. But the best source for adding to my collection is from others who belong to the American Political Items Collectors (www.apic.us) at shows where I can touch, bargain, trade and bicker with knowledgeable and ethical dealers/collectors. In addition, more than 1200 active collectors buy, sell and share information with each other on APIC Facebook pages.
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