March 19, 2018

The author Pearl Buck once wrote: "If you want to understand today, you have to search yesterday." One way to mine the archives of our past is to comb through the political milestones that speak volumes about what our world has experienced.

Political collectibles and memorabilia are fast becoming a hot trend for collectors and buyers alike. You might be sitting on a trove of historical treasures without fully realizing their value, which is where this Muzeum post comes in. Read on to learn more about the rarity and importance of various presidential and political collectibles.

Waving Flags

Before the horizontal flag became as common as Coke bottles, most popular was a staff with a carved emblem at its top, known as a vexilloid. The fabric banners that hung vertically from these vexilloids were the precursors to modern flags, so if you happen to come across any of these rare flags, get them while you can!

Canadian flags can also be valuable. We have in our possession a unique find: the only Canadian flag that flew on Parliament Hill's Peace Tower signed by John Ross Matheson, a former MP who passed away in 2013 and is known as the quarterback of the team that brought the Canadian flag to fruition in the mid-60s. 

We also learned about the sale of a U.S. campaign flag for Lincoln and Hamlin in the 1860 election that set a new world record: $40,124. Not too shabby for some stars and stripes on a piece of fabric.

Token Kindness

You might not think small tokens could actually be valuable, but since George Washington’s inauguration in 1789, campaigns were often promoted with small metal tokens, typically embossed with a candidate’s name and slogan along with a bust of the politician or another symbolic image.

Many of these tokens were designed to be worn as button or pendants. During the American financial crisis which began around 1833, some tokens were used as a substitute for American currency at specific companies. These tokens often mocked President Andrew Jackson and his successor, Martin Van Buren, for their role in the country’s economic slump. 

As with all other collectibles, the value of any tokens you have will depend on their condition.

JFK Love

It's no surprise that buyers are on the prowl for rare John F. Kennedy memorabilia. As you might expect, immediately after his assassination, campaign buttons from his presidential run in 1960 and copies of his 1956 book Profiles in Courage rocketed to the top of many collectors' lists.

Since 1963, Kennedy coins have been an important hot item of JFK collectibles. These include everything from the encased pennies made for his 1960 campaign to the silver inauguration medals from 1961. 

Weird Wonders

Beyond the expected flags, campaign buttons and tokens associated with political figures, you shouldn't neglect other unique items. For example, Antique Trader told us about this board game, patented in 1899, which "contains a thick round cardboard disc with a spinner, destinations on the board of play document places along Teddy Roosevelt’s historic ride from Oyster Bay to Albany."

Sotheby's sold a set of former President Gerald Ford's gold clubs for $25,000, which goes to show that anything that a president touches can turn into collectible gold.

If you have a political or presidential item you'd like assessed by Muzeum's expert staff, contact us anytime.

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