Political Nerd Alert! Heading to Nashville, and the APIC National Convention!

Getting excited! By this time tomorrow, I’ll be in Nashville.  I’m not going to check the kind of music they have in that town (country and western), I’m going because this year Nashville is hosting the 2021 American Political Items Collectors National Convention!

Here’s me with a couple of things on my wall, including a giant 9 inch Goldwater pin.

The 2021 APIC Convention will feature vendors and collectors, with what I believe will be around 200 tables of people buying and selling. This is my first year going, so I skipped setting up a table to simply go watch and learn.  There are over 1500 active members of the organization who collect political memorabilia to help preserve and expand interest in our nation’s political history.

There will be everything from pins for a dollar or less to items selling up into the tens of thousands of dollars.

Most of what will be at the convention are pinback buttons – which actually are not the first type of political memorabilia.  Early on in our nation’s history saw political clothing buttons (Including for George Washington), and cloth ribbons. Buttons didn’t come on to the scene until later.  In the time of Lincoln, buttons were created by using a tintype or ferrotype photo process and were not terribly common.

One of the better South Dakota pins

The traditional pinback that we still use today was invented around 1892, and became wildly popular starting in 1896 with the campaign of McKinley against Democrat William Jennings Bryan. Here’s where you start seeing colorful designs, pictures of both candidates and slogans that you still see today.

Just like many other events that fell victim to COVID last year, the convention was forced into hiatus, but is now back and set to be the largest gathering of people who collect political buttons and other items in the country.

I’m skipping many of the events this week, which started Monday/Tuesday, but I’ll be there for the big show starting tomorrow through Sunday afternoon before I return home poorer, but richer for my experiences. I do have a few items to take with me to do some horse trading with, but I’m going mainly to look, learn, and see if there are some South Dakota items that I don’t have that I need in my collection.

If you’re interested in the hobby and the history of political advertising, check out the APIC organization’s website here, or the APIC Facebook group.

(Update. Maybe I’m going. Allegiant is starting to cancel flights left and right. Ugh. I should have known better than to use them.)

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