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The Most Famous Political Campaign Button

Some people collect stamps or coins, while others invest in baseball cards or Barbie® dolls. But there is also a whole world of collectors whose item of choice is the political campaign button. One appraiser said that political buttons are like a “microcosm of political history for the 20th century”, with many treating them with the same reverence given to the first American flags, the Declaration of Independence, and other artifacts from America’s past. It does not matter if you are a Democrat, Republican, or Independent, campaign buttons are invaluable pieces of American history.

Early Political Campaign Buttons

George Washington wore the first political button, a clothing button made of brass, in 1789 at his first Presidential inauguration with the phrase “G.W.-Long Live the President.” The slogan was based off the British’s Long Live the King cry. An original George Washington cloth button could now easily be worth tens of thousands of dollars.

In 1860, Abraham Lincoln and Hannibal Hamlin ran for the Presidency. Many believe that Lincoln was the first president to use buttons as a true campaign tool. Political button pins during this era started to feature daguerreotypes of the candidates and is the first time portraits ever appeared on campaign buttons. One of these buttons, in perfect condition, would be worth over $1000 to most modern collectors.

Photo of Abraham Lincoln political button
Photo: Library of Congress

The first mass production of metal buttons, the design we are familiar with today for most campaigns, happened during the 1896 William McKinley campaign for president. These campaign buttons were “celluloid” buttons, with one side of a metal disk covered with paper containing the printed message, and protected by a layer of clear plastic.  It’s ironic that campaign button pins haven’t changed much over the years; political buttons are still produced with a metal casing, covered with paper and protected by clear plastic we call mylar. The only difference is that we now have a jewelers safety pin attached to the button back.

One of the most famous uses of campaign buttons occurred during the 1940 U.S. presidential election, when Wendell Willkie’s campaign produced millions of buttons in response to news stories about President Franklin D. Roosevelt. It reads: “That’s right Franklin, Spinach is Spinach”. According to NPR, this button can be traced back to a New Yorker cartoon, where a mother and daughter are sitting around a dinner table. The mother says “It’s broccoli, dear”, while the daughter pushes away the plate and responds, “I say it’s spinach and I say the hell with it.” This is to suggest Willkie’s nature it to “tell it like it is”, while Roosevelt is guilty of spinning the truth.

Political Campaign Button Prices

Aside from the Washington button, the price of past campaign buttons doesn’t always rise in relation to its age. Some of the most popular buttons have sentimental value attached to them, such as buttons created for the Kennedy Presidential campaign. “A Kennedy-Humphrey button can be worth $300-$500. This outranks even Lincoln, Roosevelt and Huey Long memorabilia,” said collectibles writer Joyce Worley. Obviously the more obscure buttons, such as those with spelling errors, are considered more collectible simply because they are harder to come by.

“Since the turn of the century, the political button has just dominated the political advertising, until television came in. Now it’s a dying art.” Political campaign button collectors are hoping to preserve the art and the history that is inherently a part of those buttons for generations to come. Whether it’s for President, Governor, Mayor or local election campaign, button pins will stand the test of time.  

Showing support (or disdain) for presidential candidates through button pins is a practice nearly as old as the office of the 1st U.S. President George Washington, and over time it has evolved with the changing political landscape we are living in today.  Campaign Button Pin history may be hundreds of years old, but still remain wearable signs of the times.  Even today’s COVID-19 themed campaign buttons will become part of a collection one day.

Button pins are now making a comeback as they can be seen from a safe 6 foot distance and can be customized to your needs. Who knows, the buttons we make for you might become collectable 100 years from now!


If you have any questions about your custom button order or the ordering process, you can always give us a call at 623-445-9975, or send us an email at You can also reach us through the chat feature on our website during business hours (8am-5pm Arizona Time). We are here to help in every step of your button ordering process, from beginning your order to shipping your buttons for delivery.

As always, we are in this business because Everyone Loves Buttons®!

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Company Spotlight ELB aka Excellent Limitless Button makers

Company Spotlight ELB aka Excellent Limitless Button makers

What our customers really say about us on Trustpilot:

In our business, the best gift one can receive is a glowing review and our most recent review is just that. This past summer we implemented a customer review component to our business through TrustPilot. We are currently rated 4.9 stars on Google as a direct result of all of the reviews we are received in 2014. Today’s review epitomizes the essence of who we are and what we strive for each and every day. It praised us for our customer service, fast turnaround time, and the quality of the buttons he received. The review can been read below: ELB must mean Excellent Limitless Buttonmakers!!! I cannot speak better for ELB. Maura provided the best customer service, being extremely prompt and professional throughout the whole process from start to finish. Speaking of start to finish, what other company can literally have your order completed and shipped by the next business day in as capable a manner? My organization is raving about the buttons, and I am as well. The colour match is PERFECT. Combine all this with a price-match to ensure you receive the best price, and ELB doesn’t just exceed the competition, it blows it away. Thanks!!! We are constantly striving to provide Legendary Customer Service, Excellent Quality Products, Fast Turnaround Times, as well as our Price Match Guarantee. All of the additional reviews from other satisfied customers can be seen on our website. Just click the Trust Box at the top of our home page at We here at Everyone Loves Buttons® are always trying to make sure that are customers are satisfied with our products from our custom buttons to our zipper pulls. We take great pride in making sure only the highest quality products leave our shop by guaranteeing a 100% USA made product. What sets us apart from other button companies, is to have customer service that is not just the best but LEGENDARY!


Everyone Loves Buttons® has grown a lot since our humble beginnings in 1997 when we first operated from a two bedroom apartment in San Diego, CA moved to a new home and ran the company out of our 2 car garage for about 2 years then into a 1,500 sq. foot facility then to our 5000 square foot facility complete with a loading dock in Phoenix, AZ. It’s been a fascinating journey filled with twists or turns. We almost never know what surprises are in store for us from one week to the next. One week we are invited to become a Facebook vendor, the next week we are pinning 100,000 buttons for a rush order. September was an especially active month with political button season in full swing. October has been also shaping up to be busy due to it being Breast Cancer Awareness month. We are gaining international clientele and serve a wide array of industries which include high tech, food service, health care and top US Colleges. We ship buttons to Australia and Trinidad regularly as well as the UK and Hong Kong. In addition, we have implemented a new customer service review process and have increased our fulfillment capabilities with our special packaging options which we are capable of doing for what ever needs arise by our clients. For large custom buttons orders of one or more palettes, companies can benefit from lower cost freight shipping if there is either a dock or a forklift on the receiving end. Companies can save money by arranging their own freight pickup through their individual shipping departments (they tend to have existing freight contracts with specific carriers) since we have a dock. Also, we extend deep freight discounts to our clients and can also arrange for transport through UPS freight which is an unbelievably reliable system. I cannot think of a time when a palette didn’t deliver on the exact day expected. Indeed, ELB will be entering our 18th year in the buttons business come the end of November. We can serve ALL of your custom buttons needs with our 17 sizes/shapes to choose from. With so many events happening in the next couple of months, give us a call and we’ll be happy to discuss your pinback custom button order.

We are in this business because Everyone Loves Buttons®!

The History of Political Pins and Buttons

Political buttons, or pins, have been used for the larger part of American history to show support for and promote political candidates or other views. Their form has evolved over the years as technology developed. While they originally resembled clothing buttons sewn into jackets, modern versions typically contain photographic images or slogans with a pin built into the back. In a way, these buttons serve a similar purpose to yard signs and bumper stickers that turn up every election year.

The First Political Buttons

Almost every American president had some type of campaign button, or pin, and this tradition started with George Washington. Although presidential candidates did not campaign in the same way they do today, once they were elected their supporters used buttons to celebrate the appointment. Many kinds of brass clothing buttons were made for the inauguration of Washington including some that were engraved with “Long Live the President,” and others that were engraved with just his initials. The buttons sewn into Washington’s jacket featured 13 chain links surrounding the button’s border, which represented the original 13 states.

Buttons as a Political Tool

Andrew Jackson was one of the first people to mass-produce political buttons during his campaign in 1824. He used brass coins to create his buttons and had his image as a military general imprinted on them. He started this as a way to market himself, which is obviously a strategy that continues today.

Buttons were also used to display opinions regarding agendas that were unrelated to presidential elections. During the 1910s buttons were produced with an image of an umbrella and the “Safety First” slogan to show endorsement for banning alcohol in the United States. The prohibition of alcohol was mandated in 1920 and when supporters of the opposing view started wearing slogans such as “We Want Beer.”

The Beginning of the Modern Button

The first photographic images used on campaign pins date back to the mid-nineteenth century. The invention of the tintype and ferrotype enabled the production of small portraits of candidates encircled with metal frames, which supporters could wear as lapel pins. President Abraham Lincoln and his opponents had the first election buttons that were made with tin type or ferrotype photographs.

According to collectors, the first buttons that were similar to the form we see them in today were made during the presidential election of 1896. These buttons were used almost completely for promotional purposes and were made by putting a piece of celluloid protective covering over paper before wrapping it around a section of metal. This technology resulted in the creation of many colorful and artistic pins.

Political Pins Today

Many buttons are still produced today, at an even greater amount than they were in the past, because of less costly production methods and the widespread availability of machines. We are also seeing new forms of political buttons gaining popularity, like the disposable stick-on-badge. These badges can be made more cheaply than buttons and can also be produced in large quantities. Another type of newer campaign button is a web button. These are made by using computer graphics and can be distributed easily with minimal expenditure. Even with these changes, there is nothing quite like wearing your buttons to show your support at an event.