Collector Stories



Exploring the past through political campaigns can lead you on a fascinating journey to understand how  our nation developed and provide keys to what the future may hold.

You may be visiting this site because you inherited a box of political pins, or perhaps you purchased a few that looked interesting at a local flea market or antique shop. That is how many of us got started in this wonderful pastime.  So if you have an interest in connecting with the past, collecting political memorabilia is a perfect hobby for you.  

We are the American Political Items Collectors (APIC). All of our members have a passion for history. We feel a responsibility to ensure that items created for American political campaigns through the years are preserved and protected so that they can be studied and enjoyed by future generations.

We are also driven by the “thrill of the hunt,” since searching for political items  can be a powerful force few of us can resist. Most members enjoy the pride of ownership no matter the size of their collecting budget, and may even discover that their collections appreciate as an investment over time.  

Collecting also gives us an outlet for pleasure and relaxation that can divert us from the stresses of everyday life. For example, President Franklin D. Roosevelt was an avid stamp collector, which no doubt provided him a healthy distraction from the Great Depression and World War II.

Become part of our community that shares your interests by joining the APIC. Your membership can help you make lifelong connections and friendships that could enhance your collecting as you gain knowledge and experience.

 Collecting is a very personal experience. What follows are stories from some of our APIC Members  on “Why I Collect.”

Cary Jung

Cary Jung

I came across my first political button when I was 10 years old that my kid brain thought was so cool. If you held it in one direction, it showed one picture; and if you held it in another way, it flashed a different image. That flasher button was the best 25 cents I ever plunked down at the county fair. Even at that young age in 1964, I liked history and the artifacts that defined it. The button was for President Lyndon Johnson. I still have it. That pin launched my lifelong passion for collecting—now thousands of items—that has just gotten stronger over the years.

Later in college when I discovered the American Political Items Collectors, it was like finding a second family. Its members are like a community of shared interests, where I have developed lifelong friendships and treasured memories. Over the years, I have had the privilege and honor of serving the organization in a variety of capacities, most recently as APIC President. I love the thrill of the hunt for items. I am very proud of the collection I have assembled. It gives me a lot of satisfaction and joy. Also, as a person of color, my collecting interests reflect the diversity of our great country. It has been a fun journey.

Cary Jung Sacramento, CA

Tony Lee

Tony Lee

When I was freshman in high school in Dallas, I’d built a small collection of political pins, mostly from the 1968 presidential campaigns. My older brother was in college then, and every time he came home he brought me more pins. Then one day in my history class, we discussed politics and I explained what I collected. My teacher, Mr. Byrd, asked me to bring in my pinbacks to show the class the next day, which I did. After class, he called me over to his desk and handed me a cigar box full of much older political pins. He said they had belonged to his grandfather and that since I was “a collector,” he thought I’d appreciate them more than he did. My collecting habit was born, and I’ve been adding to my holdings ever since.

While many collectors say the thrill of the hunt is what drives them to collect (and I agree that finding an amazing item “in the wild” of flea markets and antique stores is addictive), I truly enjoy learning the history behind each item. It’s also fun to bring together a group of political items that are all related to help tell a story of what happened in a specific campaign. What’s also great is that collecting political items can quickly expand into other genres, some related and others less so. For example, I truly enjoy my collections of civil rights items, media credentials, newspaper and magazine advertising memorabilia and rock concert flyers, posters, tickets and handbills, especially those held in support of political candidates. By expanding what I collect, I’m virtually guaranteed to find something new for my collection every time I attend (or host) an APIC local meeting or convention.

It’s also important to note that in addition to adding thousands of great items to my collection through the years, I’ve also collected a wide range of friends through APIC, some very close. It’s really wonderful to gather together with people who have similar interests to have discussions about what we collect, and many of those discussions have evolved into lifelong friendships. APIC members come from every walk of life, and when we’re together sharing stories about our collections, no one cares how old they are, what they do for a living or even what political party they belong to. Everyone respects what others collect and supports them in their efforts to help preserve U.S. political history, which is what APIC is all about.

Tony Lee, Titusville, N.J.

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