It’s Not Campaign, but It’s Still Collectible

This pinback button shows the Panama Canal route and includes a play on the name of Roosevelt.

Some political collectors, to put it bluntly, can be campaign snobs. They’ll only collect political items that were used in campaigns.

I can honestly say I’m not a campaign snob. I specialize in Theodore Roosevelt, but it doesn’t really matter to me whether an item was produced for any of TR’s campaigns or not. What I do require, however, is that the item be from the era it represents. I don’t want some 1960s button of Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt died in 1919. I’ll collect memorial items for him, but not much after a year or two from the anniversary of his death.

What brought me to this thought was a couple of items I picked up recently that aren’t campaign, but do represent an important event in Theodore Roosevelt’s presidency: The Panama Canal.

Panama Canal service medals were issued to workers who spent two years or more working on the canal construction. Less than 3,000 were made.

I’m not going to blog here about how it came about that the United States got involved in building the canal.  You can read about it elsewhere and scholars can debate the way the Panamanian revolution from Colombia happened and if our part in that was correct. Regardless, however, it happened and it’s part of history.

There aren’t a lot of items related to TR and the canal, so to find two of three such items in my collection in about a month was a treat. I’ve owned a celluloid button tying TR to the canal for about 15 years now, possibly longer. It’s a special pinback that rarely turns up in the collecting hobby.

This trivet was made to show the canal route, and included a calendar of the year 1915 around the edge.

Earlier this summer, I came across a 1915 calendar trivet with a map of the canal on it. I had seen this image on a plate before, but not a trivet.

Finally, through an online auction site, I recently found one of the Panama Canal medals given to those who worked at least two years on the canal. The metal and pinbar show Theodore Roosevelt on the front, with the name of the person getting the award and the years of service. Less than 3,000 of these medals were made and given out. I feel fortunate to have one of these wonderful medals in my collection now.




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Tony Atkiss I have a similar trivet but at the top it says "OLD GLORY" and has picture of the Presidents through Wilson around the map. While TR deserves 99% of the Presidential credit for the canal, it was opened during the Wilson Administration and he pushed the "button" from DC to open it. November 12th, 2012 at 4:00 PM

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