US political history on parade at Heritage Auctions Feb. 24

This rare George Washington portrait inaugural buttons is expected to sell for close to $50,000. Heritage Auctions image

DALLAS – The only inaugural button referring to George Washington as the “Father of His Country” (perhaps the earliest instance of the use of the phrase) will open for bidding at $20,000 when Heritage Auctions presents Part II of the David and Janice Frent Collection of Political & Presidential Memorabilia Feb. 24. The auction offers 658 lots of extraordinary pin backs, banners, campaign flags and assorted campaign paraphernalia. Absentee and Internet live bidding is available through LiveAuctioneers.

“The record-setting debut of the Frent Collection realized a stunning $911,538 last October,” said Tom Slater, director of Americana Auctions at Heritage, “and Part II is every bit as exciting.”

The landmark Frent collection – widely regarded as the largest and most comprehensive collection of its kind ever assembled – will span eight dedicated auctions with everything from buttons to banners dating from the founding of the republic up through recent elections.

The collection’s extraordinary Washington inaugural button (above) is stamped with the words “Pater Patriæ” (Father of his Country) and is the only portrait button in the accepted canon of Washington inaugural buttons. The Frent collection specimen is superior to one recently acquired by Washington’s Mount Vernon historic site.

An outstanding example of the iconic “Ship of State” silk campaign flag (below) for Henry Clay’s 1844 campaign also opens with a $20,000 bid. Considered the most desirable Clay flag variety, the rarity has fine display presence and offers a very special opportunity for the advanced specialist in political textiles.

Outstanding example of the rare 1844 Henry Clay ‘Ship of State’ silk campaign flag. Estimate: $32,000-$48,000. Heritage Auctions image

Several photographic campaign items will cross the block, and a stunning 1860 brooch featuring an ambrotype portrait of Abraham Lincoln known as the “Cooper Union” pose will open at $12,000. The nation’s leading portrait photographer, Mathew Brady, took the image while Lincoln was in New York to give a speech at Cooper Union Institute in February 1860. “Although Lincoln photographic items produced for the 1860 election were widely distributed, almost every example of the George Clark ambrotype suffers condition problems. The marvelous Frent example is essentially in mint condition and is the finest known example to exist,” Slater said.

Front and back views of the iconic George Clark ambrotype, which is in near-mint condition. The brooch measures 2.125 in. x 2.5 in. Estimate: $19,200-$28,800. Heritage Auctions image

A dramatic 1868 Ulysses S. Grant silk campaign flag will open at $7,500. Measuring 33 inches by 24 inches, the example is likely one of just three others known.

Additional highlights include:

–An Abraham Lincoln Pennsylvania Campaign Broadside from 1864.

–An Important 1864 Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson jugate silk campaign ribbon (in near mint condition and considered the top ribbon in the Frent Collection).

–An Exceptional 1828 Andrew Jackson New York Broadside from 1828.

–A Folk art parade banner for Horatio Seymour, the Democratic Party nominee for president in the 1868 presidential election.

Folk art parade banner for Horatio Seymour, Democratic Party nominee for president in the 1868 presidential election, 31 in. x 19 in. Estimate: $16,000-$24,000. Heritage Auctions image

For more information, contact Tom Slater at 214-409-1441 or