I’ve often held an old campaign button in my hand and wondered where it had been. Was it worn daily during election season, or did it just sit in a box after being picked up at a campaign headquarters? Was it possibly even worn at an event where the presidential candidate appeared? I’m sure other collectors of memorabilia have similar thoughts about items in their collections.
In the past year, I bought a campaign button that’s approaching 100 years old and I have a good idea where it might have been worn. And today’s technology is really bringing it home, so to speak.
A gentleman had seen one of my ads this past year about buying campaign buttons, and contacted me via email. He had a pin for James Cox’s 1920 presidential run. Any Cox items are scarce because the Democrats didn’t have much money in that campaign, so not a lot of items were produced. The gentleman who contacted me had a small brass pin showing two roosters facing each other, with banners between them saying “Cox and Roosevelt.” The rooster was an early symbol of the Democrats, much like the donkey is used today.
The seller said his mother had owned the pin, and had gotten it from a man in Lincoln, Nebraska where she lived. We worked out a deal, and when the pin arrived, it was attached to the back of an old, folded business card with a five-digit phone number, name and address in Lincoln. The seller believed that was the original owner of the pin.
A Google search of the name and address on the business card turned up nothing, but once the name was removed from the search, up popped a Google Streetview photo of the property. A search of this property shows that it is a 4-bedroom, 5-bathroom home of 1,448 square feet, but most importantly, it was built in 1918, just in time for the 1920 election that featured Cox against Warren G. Harding. Is this definitive proof that the owner of this home wore the pin? No, certainly not, but with the information provided from the seller, there’s a good chance he did. Chasing the past of an item you own is a good way to personalize your own piece of history.