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RUNNING FOR OFFICE:  The race for the White House has been in full frenzy for months now. Obama and McCain will soon be anointed official presidential candidates and then the fight and fury will really break out, complete with buttons and pins, bumper stickers and T-shirts, hats, ties, scarves, and more. Their purpose:  to advertise political points of view with names and slogans, sneers and bravado. This is the big Campaign 2008, and it is going to be different from every other campaign that has gone before it.


To start with, expect souvenirs and memorabilia to be in hot demand this year.  Not that that is something new, campaign memorabilia has long been the motivation for the start- up and expansion of numerous retail businesses. But this year, interest is expected to soar as the nation considers the possibility of electing its first black President less than 150 years after the repeal of slavery. 


Buttons are the most popular and most collectible electoral paraphernalia. People wear the buttons to show which candidate they plan to vote for. Historically, the most popular was the Eisenhower “I Like Ike” button from 1952.  Going back further, we find that the first buttons to surface in the United States commemorated George Washington’s inauguration and carried the initials GW, with the statement, Long Live The President. Today, these other-era collectibles are much in demand, with an average value of about $1,000. The buyers, like former President Bill Clinton, are usually people who love history.

 Political donkey poendantpolitical elephant pendant

ELEPHANTS AND DONKEYS:  Collectors of election memorabilia usually focus on specific subject matter.  Some collect pins representing the two different political parties, such as elephant and donkey pins.  These can be extremely well crafted and full of personality.  If you are looking for 2008 buyers for these captivating pieces, think about more than just individuals.  Clubs and other organizations often purchase political party pins in bulk! There are also buyers who choose memorabilia about specific presidents.  The most popular are Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, Truman and Kennedy.   Once this year’s election is over, you can expect to see a major uptick in demand for buttons promoting whoever is the winning candidate!


Slogans are always hot for electioneering.  This year, the word CHANGE outruns all others, so look for it on buttons, pins, you name it. Obama started the concept up, Hillary latched on to it, and now even McCain is proclaiming his candidacy in those terms.

 American flag tie with eagle

Patriotic motifs like swords or eagles represent another highly collectible area. Certainly the biggest of these (since 9/11 especially) is the American Flag and wow! Is Campaign 2008 ever big for this pin.  Big and, we might add, wildly controversial. McCain has always worn a flag pin, using it, among other things, as an anti-terrorist symbol. But Obama has only worn the pin on and off.




American flag pins

FLAG PIN FRENZY:  Back in April of this year, a voter asked Obama why he wasn’t wearing a flag pin on his lapel and he said that he had noticed “people wearing lapel pins but not acting very patriotic.”  It was a response that didn’t go down well. Republicans lambasted him, and right-wing voters across the country called him unpatriotic   The upshot of it all:  Obama now wears a flag pin on his lapel every day.

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Monday, July 21st, 2008

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