Roland Auctions’ campaign of rare political items rolls on Oct. 14

William Henry Harrison sulphide brooch. Estimate: $400-$600. Roland Auctions image

William Henry Harrison sulphide brooch, 1840. Estimate: $400-$600. Roland Auctions image


NEW YORK – Just in time for the 2016 presidential election, Roland Auctions NY will present a once-in-a-lifetime auction of political and campaign buttons on Oct. 14. This single-owner sale is the fifth auction dedicated to the collection of the late Dr. Alan York, an optometrist from East Hampton, N.Y.

Absentee and Internet live bidding is available through

York’s vast historical holdings tell the story of the United States of America from the young republic’s Federal period through the modern era.

Highlights from the collection include:

  • An 1840 brooch manufactured to promote the presidential campaign of William Henry Harrison (above). This was the first campaign to mass-produce such items advertising candidates to the electorate and general public.
  • A hand-forged brass coat button commemorating the 1789 inauguration of George Washington held at Federal Hall, located in New York City’s present-day Financial District.
  • An 1864 brass shield badge (below) with two photographic ferrotype portraits of Abraham Lincoln and his vice-president/successor Andrew Johnson. This is one of a handful of examples known to still exist outside institutional or museum collections.
  • An 1861 double-sided lapel badge with ferrotype portraits commemorating Jefferson Davis as first President of the Confederacy and P.G.T. Beauregard as its first General.
  • A 1912 celluloid portrait button depicting a young Franklin Delano Roosevelt for his ultimately unsuccessful bid to the New York State Senate, the only election that he ever lost.
Rare Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson shield pin. Estimate: $20,000-$30,000. Roland Auctions image

Rare Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson shield pin, 1864. Estimate: $20,000-$30,000. Roland Auctions image


A wide variety of third party and ‘hopeful’ candidates including many examples of Socialist and Communist party contenders. Highlighting this group is a rare jugate portrait button of perennial candidate Eugene V. Debs, who famously ran for president in 1920 while serving time as a political prisoner at the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary.


George Washington inaugural button. Estimate: $1,500-$2,000. Roland Auctions image

George Washington inaugural brass button, 1789. Estimate: $1,500-$2,000. Roland Auctions image


This collection spans the late 18th century through the 1960s and contains both common and rare examples from nearly every election held in the nation’s history.

The Dr. Alan York Collection of political buttons and pinbacks is but part of a massive curated historical archive assembled over the course of more than a half century.


View the fully illustrated catalog and register to bid absentee or live via the Internet as the sale is taking place by logging on to