What Makes A Presidential Political Collection Valuable?
Type of Object
Pinbacks and buttons are an inexpensive, durable purchase which can grow into a wonderful collection. Since Abraham Lincoln, presidential candidates have been putting their faces on pins. Unlike paper objects, buttons and other hard objects typically hold up well even after extensive use or exposure.
Authenticity & Age:
An older item is typically rarer, and thus, more valuable. Authenticated signed objects are always worth more than unsigned, especially if they are not “secretarial,” auto-penned or personalized “to Larry.”
The historical importance of a president is the most important factor in the value of their memorabilia. What did the president do? How did they change America? And equally important: How does the object pertain to them and their historical legacy?
Andrew Jackson was one of America’s most notorious presidents for his controversial decisions & fiery personality, but he is also known for his achievements on the battlefield before he became president.
It is not surprising that a “Pay Requisition” from War of 1812, signed by Jackson, sold for $10,000.00 in 2014. That’s a lot of paper! But consider, Jackson’s signed letter written while preparing for The Battle of New Orleans, which sold for $65,725.00. Why the huge difference in price? While both documents are from the same period, the Battle of New Orleans changed the tide of the war against the British. It was one of Jackson’s greatest victories on the battlefield, so having a glimpse into his thoughts on the eve of this fight is of greater value than his mere signature on a pay bill.
There’s a hierarchy based on popularity: Kennedy, Obama, Reagan, Washington, Lincoln…followed by the rest. The remaining 38 are most popular in their home states.
Fame can apply to the general public’s awareness or certain historical collecting circles, or to both. For instance, Lincoln & Washington are iconic to, not only history buffs, but pretty much every American in general. In contrast, few Americans know President Grover Cleveland, but his memorabilia has value in historical circles. P.S. He’s a Jersey guy!
Snapshot of a Moment In Time
What defines 2016? Twitter is news. News is twitter. Media outlets constantly reference Twitter polls, Twitter fights, and social movements that gain momentum from the Tweet outlet. Accordingly, a “#Build The Wall” pin from the Donald Trump campaign reflects the way political ideas spread today & Trump’s social media presence. Likewise, a Hillary Clinton pillow speaks to the possibility of the 1st woman president, home décor, and the longstanding debate about “a woman’s place.”
When to sell
The best time to sell a political collection is now: during the election. Start thinking about marketing your memorabilia two weeks to a month before the campaign season officially begins.
The 2016 Presidential Election just might be a very historically important one. A woman or a non-politician will win. If you are hoping your collection of Hillary & Donald bobble heads will fund your retirement, beware: You might have to wait a long time to retire. Remember, if it’s sold as a “collectible,” it isn’t. Popular mass-produced items are less likely to retain value in the short-term.
Co-Authors: Lynn Magnusson, ASA, AAA and Becky Lipnick, Communications Coordinator