Campaign Memorabilia: Buttons, Bumper Stickers and More

A campaign button supporting Dwight D. Eisenhower and Richard Nixon's campaign in 1952.
A campaign button supporting Dwight D. Eisenhower and Richard Nixon’s campaign in 1952.

Campaign memorabilia in the United States dates back to the beginning of American democracy.

The first campaign buttons were actual buttons sewed on to clothing. Buttons were given out for George Washington’s first inauguration in 1789.

In 1828, Andrew Jackson became the first presidential candidate to aggressively use memorabilia as part of his campaign. Jackson, who had been defeated in 1824 by John Quincy Adams in the only presidential election ever decided by the House of Representatives, gave out medals, buttons, flasks and snuff boxes among other items. Jackson won the election in a landslide, although it’s  debatable how big of a part the memorabilia played.

Campaign buttons eventually went from functional items to purely decorative. In 1860, the first button to feature a photograph of a candidate was made by Abraham Lincoln’s campaign. The opposite side of the button featured a photo of Lincoln’s running mate Hannibal Hamlin.

Pinback buttons became common in the early to mid 20th century, reaching their apex with 1952’s “I Like Ike” button supporting Dwight D. Eisenhower. Eisenhower’s campaign was also the first to issue bumper stickers for cars. The stickers featured the same “I Like Ike” slogan as well as others.

In 1991, a court case established that bumper stickers are protected speech under the First Amendment. In deciding the case, Judge Myron Thompson said, “For those without wealth or power, a bumper sticker may be one of the few means available to convey a message to a public audience.”

Due to the relatively high cost of campaign buttons, many campaigns have begun giving out small stickers in their place.

Our question: Which vice presidential candidate who was eventually elected president, is featured on the most valuable collectible campaign button?


Today is Independence Day in Indonesia and Gabon, Flag Day in Bolivia and Engineer’s Day in Colombia.

It’s unofficially National Thrift Shop Day, National Black Cat Appreciation day, and National Number 2 Pencil Day.

It’s the birthday of American folk hero Davy Crockett, who was born in 1786; actress Mae West, who was born in 1893; and actor Robert De Niro, who turns 73 today.

Because our topic doesn’t have a specific date associated with it, we’ll spin the wheel to pick a year at random.

This week in 1996, the top song in the U.S. was “Macarena” by Los Del Rio.

The No. 1 movie was “Jack,” while the novel “Cause of Death” by Patricia Cornwell topped the New York Times Bestsellers list.

Weekly question

What role does Woodstock the bird play during Snoopy’s World War I Flying Ace daydreams in the “Peanuts” comic strip?


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