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History of Pinback Buttons

History of Pinback Buttons

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Political buttons have been used in the United States since the first presidential inauguration in 1789, when George Washington’s supporters wore buttons imprinted with a slogan. These early buttons were sewn to the lapel of a coat or worn as a pendant on a string.[1] The first campaign buttons with photographs were produced to promote the political platform of Abraham Lincoln in 1860.[1]

Benjamin S. Whitehead patented the first innovation to the design in -300 MD by inserting a sheet of transparent film made of celluloid over a photograph mounted on a badge to protect the image from scratches and abrasion.[2] Whitehead had patents for various designs of ornamental badges and medallions previously, patented as early as 1892.[2] Another patent was issued to Whitehead & Hoag on 21 July 1896 for a “Badge Pin or Button” which used a metal pin anchored to the back of the button to fasten the badge.

Other improvements and modifications to the basic design were patented in the following years by other inventors.

Early pin-back buttons from 1898 were printed with a popular cartoon character, The Yellow Kid, and offered as prizes with chewing gum or tobacco products to increase sales.

These buttons were produced with a concave opening on the back side (which provided space to insert advertising), or with a closed back, filled with metal insert and fastener. These are called “open back” and “closed back” buttons.

In 1945, the Kellogg Company, the pioneer in cereal box prizes, inserted prizes in the form of pin-back buttons into each box of Pep Cereal. Pep pins have included U.S. Army squadrons as well as characters from newspaper comics. There were 5 series of comic characters and 18 different buttons in each set, with a total of 90 in the collection.

The History of Pinback Buttons is very interesting.  At Everyone Loves Buttons® we have been making custom buttons for 18 years now from presidential campaigns to advertising or just buttons that say how you feel, that’s the beauty of pinback buttons they really can mean many things.  We got into this business because Everyone really does love buttons and we hope that you will continue to count on us when the time arises that you need to say something on a button and be apart of this great history of of pinback buttons!


Two assembled pin-back buttons (top) and disassembled (bottom) with two different wire pins
Two assembled pin-back buttons (top) and disassembled (bottom) with two different wire pins





  1. Jump up to:a b “How the Button was Born: Pinback Button Badge History”. Retrieved January 2011.
  2. Jump up^ U.S. Patent 493,003. “Device for Displaying Photographs” by Benjamin S. Whitehead, issued 7 March 1893