Presidential campaign collectibles--buttons, bobbleheads, posters, action figures, nutcrackers, coasters, baseball caps, throw pillows --all have their place in the realm of political memorabilia. The images associated with the United States Presidents ranging from early photographic images of President Abraham Lincoln on campaign buttons attached to a coat to sunrise logos suggesting a new era of prosperity for President Barack Obama are of interest to collectors. These campaign images speak volumes about the state of the country, the vision of the candidate, the tone of the campaign. Collectors have been known to keep, trade, and sell all types of Presidential campaign objects as they convey much information about the candidates and ultimately about the American President.
In the collectibles marketplace, the period from October 31 until Election Day is the best time to sell antique vintage political collectibles. After this prime market cycle, one that only occurs once every four years, the next best time to liquidate your collection of campaign stuff is during the two-week cycle before President’s Day in February.
A few items have become more desirable than others when we look back at recent campaign history. For instance, President Donald Trump’s MAGA (Make American Great Again) baseball caps were the collectible of choice during the 2016 Presidential campaign. And, for Democratic supporters and collectors alike, a very popular campaign collectible from the 2016 campaign was Secretary Hillary Clinton’s “A Woman’s Place is in the White House” campaign throw pillows.
President Barack Obama’s campaign imagery spoke of history. Like the MAGA caps and Hillary throw pillows, Obama’s campaign buttons are among the most sought after collectible of its kind in 21st Century American politics. This year’s campaign buttons follow the history of the campaign button as the portrait images of President Trump and former Vice President Biden on buttons harken back to the tradition of sharing a candidate’s likeness on campaign buttons dating back to the 1860 campaign of Abraham Lincoln as well as the 1960 campaign of Senator John F. Kennedy. All of these campaign buttons featured photographic portrait images of the candidates. A candidate’s likeness on a collectible object always wins with collectors.
If campaign imagery can speak to the broader idea of American history, that wins with voters and devoted political collectors. Such as items from President Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign which suggested a devotion to moving forward. The prosperity symbols seen on President Obama’s campaign buttons are obvious including the Americana red, white, and blue colors and prominent landscape design with the “O” as a rising sun. The style of Obama’s button relates to the ideals of mid-19th Century prosperity—moving from a time of turmoil to one of plenty. President Obama’s “sunrise over the American landscape” campaign imagery recalls the broad red and white stripes of the American flag embedded into the fields of the lush American landscape conveying in graphic design popular artistic imagery of the late 1930s and 1940s or social realistic art made famous by Grant Wood, Thomas Hart Benton and others. This is not unlike the way that the Biden campaign has integrated subtle red stripes of the American flag as the letter “E” in the name JoE and BidEn on campaign publicity items.
In art and design, geometric lines show strength and organic lines indicate movement. Both are appropriate for campaign imagery. The logo of our last President’s campaign from 2012 highlighted his “O” monogram and embraced this idea of continual movement with no visual beginning or end to the letter form. Conversely, our current President, Donald Trump, has selected campaign posters that boldly highlight the candidate’s name and use strong geometric linearity in outlining boxes and traditional typeface to attract voters.