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Bernard Schoenburg

Political collectibles convention coming to Illinois capital

Some 'junkies' can't get enough of buttons, signs

Some 'junkies' can't get enough of buttons, signs

Can people be political paraphernalia junkies?

Some are.

“It’s extremely addictive,” said Mark Evans, membership director of the American Political Items Collectors.

The group’s national convention – a once-every-2-years event – will be in Springfield for the first time July 18-22 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.

The non-profit membership organization is dedicated to promoting the collection, preservation and study of materials relating to political campaigns and the presidency – though the buttons, banners and bandanas can also come from races for governor or other offices.

The convention will include more than 225 dealer tables of political and historical items being bought and sold.

Part of the show – from
9 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 21 and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. July 22 – will be free to the public, who also will be able to get free appraisals of their political items and can have them auctioned at one of several sessions during the day for a commission fee.

Membership in the organization is not required for those public events, but costs $38 and can be purchased at the event. The rate for people 19 and younger is $15.

Evans said that all buttons and other political items at the convention must be originals. And items will span the country’s history – from the time of George Washington through the coming 2020 campaign.

A Springfield member of the organization is Marc Daniels, who got publicity during the 2016 presidential campaign for attending more than 50 rallies combined for President Donald Trump and Democratic challengers Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, and selling yarmulkes with names of candidates spelled out in Hebrew. He has long promoted “weed out hate” events – where people pick weeds, representing expelling hatred.

Daniels says he sold several thousand Trump yarmulkes – due in part to his attending an American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference. And Trump signed one of the skull caps.

But, Daniels said, he found, with attending Democratic and Republican national conventions in 2016, that many Trump supporters were taking “dark jubilation” to “weed out the weak” rhetoric.

And so, Daniels has had anti-Trump buttons made that he will have at the Springfield convention. One shows a picture of a bee, with wording: “2018 BEE Best Impeachment Stinger.”

The pin is a play on words of First Lady Melania Trump’s “Be Best” campaign to teach children, among other things, positive online behavior. Daniels said he hopes those buttons will “sting more Democrats into voting” and help get the president out of office.

Evans, of Avon, New York, said the organization doesn’t pre-approve buttons, but he said that while negative images are part of campaigns, they represent just a “tiny sliver” of political items.

“The anti-stuff is just a very small portion of what we collect,” he said. “We collect all of the artifacts from campaigns, because they tell a story. It’s much more graphic than documents.”

He said, for example, that there are more than 10,000 buttons concerning former President Barack Obama, and “most of them are very pro.”

But he also said there were probably 1,000 buttons critical of former President George W. Bush that came out due to the Iraq War. And he said in 1940, a controversial button attacking the running mate of President Franklin D. Roosevelt that year – Agriculture Secretary Henry Wallace – said: “Phooey on blubberhead Wallace.”

Evans called the most popular and effective slogan of all time was the short and snappy “I Like Ike,” for Republican Dwight Eisenhower, who defeated former Democratic Illinois Gov. Adlai Stevenson II in 1952 and 1956 presidential races.

“When you have a name like that, how do you compete?” Evans asked. He said attempts were made, but didn’t catch on. Examples were, “We need Adlai badly” and “Gladly for Adlai.”

Evans said that when U.S. Sen. Estes Kefauver of Tennessee was Stevenson’s 1956 running mate, a “desperate” attempt at a slogan was “Adlai and Estes are the bestest.”

Evans also will be displaying a nylon stocking – on the leg of a mannequin – with embroidery saying “I like Adlai.” It is held on the leg by a garter advertising Stevenson and his 1952 running mate, U.S. Sen. John Sparkman of Alabama.

Information on the convention is available at or by contacting Atwater at 309-251-6461 or

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