Not every political collector has a collection filled with well-known names. Lots of folks might collect the Roosevelts, Kennedys and Lincoln. But there are those who collect the names that once were household words, but rarely roll off lips today.
Matt Dole would fit that mold. Dole was born in Vermont, but now lives in Granville, Ohio. That helps explain why Dole collects what he does today.
“I’ve collected a little bit of everything over the years, but now I’ve focused almost fully on Ohio locals and Coolidge/Dawes items,” he said recently. “I do keep a Riker mount of presidential items since 1900, but I don’t actively add to it. Coolidge did a post-graduate year of study at my high school and I attended Dawes’ college, so that’s the ticket for me.”
But if he had to list just one candidate to collect, who would that be?
“If I have to list just one, it’s Robert A. Taft,” he said. “There’s a vast array of items from his three senate and three presidential campaigns. The Taft family name makes it interesting, too – there are at least 10 Tafts who sought elective office, including three Robert Tafts, so it can be challenging.”
Besides sharing a last name with the 1996 GOP presidential nominee Bob Dole, there’s another good reason that collecting political is a great hobby for Dole. He’s a political consultant who works with 15-20 candidates a year.
And yes, he collects items that relate to his clients, too.
Dole’s passion for collecting began early.
“I began accumulating stuff about 20 years ago as a teenager volunteering for campaigns,” he said. “About five years ago I decided I had to either start collecting in earnest or get rid of everything and there was clearly only one correct choice there.”
He kept the stuff. He now estimates that he has 1,000-2,000 items in his collection.
“I did recently reach the tipping point where I can no longer display everything that I would normally want to display in my office, so I guess I have to go to a rotating schedule,” he said.
His collection includes more than just buttons — namely posters, photos, letters, bumper stickers and pamphlets. He’s convinced other collectors overlook these items, keeping the price of them reasonable.
Dole, who also has a 1,200-book collection of non-fiction, as well as some sports memorabilia, has a hard time choosing what might be his favorite item in his collection.
“This is an almost impossible question,” Dole said, adding “I think my favorite item is a 1938 poster promoting Robert A. Taft for U.S. Senate. It was his first campaign for Senate, and it predates all the presidential campaign items created in 1940, 1948 and 1952.”
Dole wouldn’t mind owning some Lincoln items some day – his favorite president – but there is another item he’d really like to have.
He’d like to own a Senate race item for Charles Dawes, U.S. Senator from Illinois who ran with Calvin Coolidge as his vice presidential running mate in 1924.
But the hunt is what this contest is all about.