Collecting Political Items During the 1800's
The collecting of political Americana probably started in 1789 when the very first George Washington "GW" inaugural item was struck. Over the years, as political opposition grew, these American political items not only advertised one's favorite candidate, but left a vast array of tangible political history for all of us to enjoy.
The only common bonds among the early collectors of the 19th century were the various medal catalogs, starting with a collector named Bushnell in 1856 and another collector Satterlee in 1862. While the early collectors most likely had some interest in coins and other medals, the felling of the time could best be summed up from the opening paragraph of Satterlee's catalog preface which stated "The object of this compilation is simply to invite the attention of American Numismatists to a class of medals that has hitherto been greatly neglected--a class that is inferior to none in variety and interest, and that has a more immediate bearing on the history than any other."
The APIC was Born
The need for a group of collectors to band together was met in 1945 when five collectors organized the American Political Items Collectors. For a period of fifteen years, Joe Fuld (#1) served as President and Monroe D. Ray (#3) served as Secretary/Treasurer. The letterhead of the organization read "An organization devoted to the dissemination of authoritative information helpful to collectors of political items". In 1959, the organization has grown to 75 members. Monroe D. Ray tried for many years to get the members together for a meeting, to draw up by-laws and elect officers. With little cooperatiion amongh the membership, and failing health of Mr. Ray, it was decided to disband the APIC as of May 1st, 1960. Both Mr. Ray and Mr. Fuld had done a big and oftentimes thankless job during the fifteen years that they served as officers.
With no one willng to take over the responsibility of running the organization, the APIC nearly came to an end. Early in May of 1960, U.I. "Chick" Harris took the initiative, and wrote a letter to all APIC members mentioning that there was more nationwide interest in political Americana than there had been for years, and asked for every member to voice their opinion regarding a re-organization. This resulted in a meeting of the APIC, held at William's Restaurant in Chicago on July 24th, 1960 just prior to the Republican Convention. This meeting was attended by some 20 members and lasted six hours. It was a true business meeting since not a single button was sold or traded!
From this meeting, the APIC was revitalized into the active organization that is is today. The changes which took place included expanding the number of officers, forming a board of directors, voting by ballot, new by-laws and a constitution, a coded roster, auctions, national conventions every two years, price guides, control of fakes, encouraging local groups and, best of all--news bulletins to members. These news bulletins grew into what we have today, the APIC Keynoter.
The APIC Today
Many changes have occurred since those early days including the growth of our membership to over 2000 members. The organization serves the entire field of political memorabilia collecting and many other associated fields. There are many publications and auction catalogs being produced that serve the hobby, plus reference books and internet sites dedicated to the field of political memorabilia. The APIC played a dominant role in the passage of the Hobby Protection Act of 1973, and we continue to work hard with the Federal Trade Commission enforcing this law. The APIC works with presidential libraries and other institutions, researching and studying the various facets of the hobby. The APIC also sponsors a summer internship program in cooperation with the Smithsonian Institution.