Previously, I blogged about how it’s possible to collect old political items on a budget. I looked at a couple national political auctions for presidential campaign buttons that were at least 100 years old in good to excellent condition and sold for $25 or less. It didn’t take that long to find five items.
Today, I thought we’d try the opposite search. Could I find five items for presidents in the past 20 years that sold for $100 or more each? The answer is “yes,” and without too much trouble.
The first pin I found was for John Kerry’s 2004 presidential race with John Edwards as his running mate, which sold in October 2010. What makes this 2 ¼ inch pin worth more is that it’s a coattail pin for two other candidates as well – one is Barack Obama for senator and a “McHugh” running for state attorney in Mercer County, Illinois. This “Irish Americans for…” pin was actually put out for McHugh, who was trying to ride the popularity of Kerry, Edwards and Obama into office. Because it was made for a small group in one county, the number of pins made would be small. On a $50 minimum, this pin sold for $215.60.
Next, the oldest pin of the five found was from the 1996 election of Bill Clinton and Al Gore running against Bob Dole. This pin is 3 ½ inches and is from the state of Alaska. It’s considered a classic pin for Bill Clinton’s campaign among collectors. It had a minimum bid of $165, and two bidders, plus the buyer’s premium, pushed it to $200.20 in this October 2010 auction.
The third pin we’ll look at is another classic among newer pins. It’s a 2 1/8 inch pin for Al Gore’s 2000 presidential race from Huntsville, Ala. Known in the hobby as the “Stars fell on Alabama” pin, it’s high on the list of Gore collectors. It had a $100 minimum in an April 2010 auction. There was only one bidder willing to go that amount, and with buyer’s premium it sold for $110.
The last two pins can be somewhat controversial in the hobby. They are known to some as “artist’s pins” because they are created in limited numbers to be sold to the collectors market, and they are considered pieces of art for their elaborate designs.
The first of these (and the fourth pin we’ll look at) was created by Guardfrog Designs for Barack Obama’s 2012 race. This pin has the signature of the designer on the back of the pin. It’s a limited production of only 12 pins, and went to auction with a $35-$50 estimate. It sold for $146 just last month.
Our fifth pin from the past 20 years to sell for more than $100 is a 2 ¼ inch pin created in 2002 by artist David Russell featuring George W. Bush in the midst of a carnival background. It was listed as a one-of-a-kind pin when it sold in a February 2008 auction for $124.30 against a minimum of $50. Seven bidders pushed it to that amount.
It’s hard for some collectors to believe that an Obama pin could sell for $100 or more, but a pin more than 100 years old can be had for less than $25. But it’s really quite simple, and sometimes it’s not all because of rarity. It’s supply and demand. If the demand for a pin outpaces the supply, the price goes up. That economic rule holds true in political collecting as well.