Market Overview

Knowing Presidents' Nicknames can Help Date Political Memorabilia


Antiques expert Terry Kovel says information is key when hunting for bargain prices on political campaign buttons and signs.

Cleveland, OH (PRWEB) October 24, 2012

Willard and Barry are running for President in 2012. Few will recognize these names. Willard is Mitt Romney's first name. Barry is the nickname President Barack Obama used in high school. It pays to learn the nicknames and middle names of presidential candidates because they help identify rare vintage political material that might otherwise be unrecognized.

Terry Kovel, author of “Kovels' Antiques and Collectibles Price Guide 2013,” commented: “If campaign buttons and signs at a flea market have unrecognized names and slogans, they will attract few buyers. If a buyer knows more than the dealer, the button could be a bargain.”

Campaign souvenirs became popular in the mid-19th century, when ribbons and tokens, snuff boxes, posters and plates began to be handed out at parades and rallies to advertise candidates and causes. Pin-back buttons were first used in 1896. Candidates' pictures, caricatures, or catchy slogans and nicknames—forerunners of today's “sound bites”—were meant to encourage familiarity and help voters remember candidates' names.

Many presidents sport now-unfamiliar nicknames that appeared on campaign materials of their times. A campaign button with the initials “TR” refers to President Theodore Roosevelt (president from 1901 to 1909). He was the first president to sign documents with his initials. A savvy collector or history enthusiast might connect a campaign button reading “Silent Cal” with President Calvin Coolidge (1923-1929), who tried hard to avoid the press, gave short answers to questions and talked very little compared with other politicians. A young collector may not know the phrase “Tricky Dick” is on an anti-button that refers to President Richard Nixon (1969-1974). When he ran against Helen Gahagan Douglas in the 1950 California Senate race, she accused him of dirty tricks and ran an ad that said, “Look at Tricky Dick Nixon's Republican record.” The name stuck for the rest of his career. And then there's President Ronald Reagan (1981-1989), who was inadvertently tagged with the nickname “Dutch” soon after his birth when his father said he looked “like a fat little Dutchman.” There are others, and political collectors in the know will find the bargain.

Terry Kovel, author of “Kovels' Antiques and Collectibles Price Guide,” gives information and advice on collecting online at She will discuss antiques and collectibles topics with accredited media. Photographs are available. Contact pr(at)kovels(dot)com.

The online site,, created and managed by Terry Kovel and Kim Kovel, provides collectors and researchers with up-to-date and accurate information on antiques and collectibles. Kovels' Antiques was founded in 1953 by Terry Kovel and her late husband, Ralph. Since then, Kovels' Antiques has continually published some of America's most popular books and articles about antiques, including the best-selling “Kovels' Antiques and Collectibles Price Guide,” now in its 45th edition. The Kovels' website, online since 1998, and free weekly email, “Kovels Komments,” give readers a bird's-eye view of the market through up-to-date news, auction reports, an online Price Guide, a Marks Dictionary, readers' questions with Kovels' answers and much more.

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